was leading the way as we motored on calm waters out of the channel. One interesting thing that happened on this
trip was we motored past a fishing boat that was anchored in the channel. The current was pushing us toward him and we
came a little closer than I planned – maybe 200 feet away. As we passed, one of the two fishermen on the
boat ran to the middle and picked up a 2-3 foot fish that looked something like
a Mutton Snapper. He held it up with a
big smile on his face and said, “Cuatro!” which means 4 in Spanish. Because I was fighting the tide and trying to
stay in the channel, I assumed he was happily saying he had caught 4 of these
fish. After thinking through this later,
I believe he wanted to sell me the 10-15 pound fish for $4. At the time, I didn’t know that fishing and
farming were nationalized in Cuba. The
fishermen and farmers work for the government.
The government pays their expenses (very limited I think) and the workers
have to give 90% of their output back to the government. They only get to keep 10%. When the fisherman goes back to the dock,
government officials are there to take their 90% of his catch. So, selling me this fish for $4 would have
been a great deal for him – money directly into his pocket – plus would have
fed us for several meals. I screwed that
We motored on a flat ocean down the coast of Varadero to
Darsena. This is a resort area with lots
of beautiful sand beaches and tourist.
Later, we found out that Varadero has a population of about 10,000
Cubans and 27,000 tourists. This was not
really the Cuba we were looking for.
As we approached the protected harbor in Darsena, I heard
Southern Cross call the marina on the VHF radio. No answer.
We entered the harbor right behind them and both of us called the marina
on the radio. No answer. Not until we were in visual sight of the
marina could we see officials on the dock pointing to where we would tie
up. Seems only the manager Ismale (sp?)
spoke English well and he was off doing something else when we arrived. The other workers just pointed to the slips
and helped us tie up.
Within 10 minutes of tying up, we were visited by the
dockmaster (“sign contract please”) and the harbormaster (“papers
please….”). The marina contract for
staying there was 6 pages – all in Spanish.
I had to sign every page (in triplicate) to show that I agreed with
something I couldn’t read. Too funny.
The Harbormaster asked for our cruising permit and we had
to fill out another form which was the same as one we had filled out in
Gaviota. Does your boat have an
engine? What manufacturer? What horsepower? Do you have a dinghy? Does it have an engine…..
A short while later the harbormaster returned with our
approval for staying in the marina.
Yea! We planned to stay here
Here are Second Wind and Southern Cross tied up next to each other at Marina Darsena, Cuba
Laura and I decided to take a walk around the marina and
ended up across the main highway walking down a palm tree lined small
road. At the end of the road we found a
small neighborhood. Not sure where we
should go or were allowed to go, we kept walking slowly saying, “Hola!” to
people we saw. Everybody seemed very
friendly and several horse-drawn buggies tried to sell us rides. The neighborhood was very.. let’s call it rustic. Houses (shacks?) were very close with loose
chickens and dogs all over the place.
Many houses had pigpens in their front yard. A short while later we came to the old,
unused runway that is between the marina and Santa Marta. We walked a short way then headed back to the
marina. Our first jaunt alone in
Our friends on Southern Cross had been emailing a
Canadian who lived on the dock here, Debbie.
About an hour after we were “legal”, Debbie came over with welcome
packets that included maps of the local area.
She was a great help in planning our next few days. Tomorrow (Saturday) she would give us a tour
of Santa Marta and her favorite places.
On Sunday we would go to the big meat / veggie market (only on
Sunday). Monday, Debbie was going to see
about having a local tour bus (Taxi?) drive us to Havana and Tuesday we would
try to get on a 2-day bus tour of Cuba.
This seemed like rushing things a lot but we were not sure when we would
sail west to Marina Hemmingway, our next stop.
But, before all that, we had to have a welcome-to-Cuba
party! We invited Debbie and Southern
Cross over to Second Wind for cocktails and munchies. Everyone had a great time. Debbie was easy to talk to and we learned a
lot about the local area.
Please use the menu on the left to browse our trip. Or, click HERE for the next page.