There was a little helping wind as we motored north from Varadero
so we raised our big sails and lowered he engine RPM. Our goal was to average 5 knots which would
put us in Key West around 9am. This was our last view of Cuba as we motor-sailed north.
It was a colorful sunset over Cuba and we prepared for a
night at sea by rearranging cockpit cushions, turning on the radar and
adjusting lights. This is one of the
busiest waterways in the world and we saw probably 20 large freights / tankers
going east and west while we were traveling north. Nobody came close and the night was
Both Laura and I were able to get a little sleep while
the other ran the boat. Engine noise is
always a little loud downstairs but the boat was barely moving around which
made for comfortable sleeping.
Laura took this sunrise picture (I was off-watch sleeping) as we were approaching the Florida Keys
We arrived at the Key West off-shore buoy around 9am and
were in the harbor about an hour later.
Now we had to decide what to do next!
Our first thought was to check-in with Customs then head to
Marathon. There we would put our name on
the list for a mooring which would probably take a couple weeks so we would
either come back to Key West or anchor out somewhere in The Keys. Seeing that there was a big storm coming in
on Sunday (two days from now), we decided to just stay in Key West and pick up
a mooring at the City Marina.
After tying to a mooring I called the number for
Customs. They took all of our
information then told me we needed to report to CBP (Customs and Border
Protection) in Key West within 24 hours.
We lowered our dinghy and put the motor on which had been
stored on deck while we were in Cuba. I
forgot to mention that we were not allowed to drop our dinghy while in Cuban
marinas. They didn’t want us going
anywhere to pick up Cubans for the ride back to Florida. If we had anchored out near an uninhabited
island, we could have used our dinghy to getting to the beach.
A short time later we checked in with the marina and paid
for 3 nights on the mooring. It was 1 ½
miles to the CBP office on a hot, calm-wind day. We finally found the office and were met with
the U.S. version of officialdom.
There was an armed officer outside the building who
stopped us and asked our business. Then
we were escorted to the security desk inside the building. All our paperwork was in order so I was
allowed inside for my interview but Laura had to stay outside with our
cellphones. My paperwork was x-rayed and
I walked through a metal-detector before heading to my interview. The interviewing officer was polite but very
serious. He seemed upset and didn’t
believe me when I told him we had been in Cuba for 8 days and were not bringing
anything back. I guess everyone brings
back Cuban cigars and rum. We don’t
smoke and don’t drink rum.
Eventually, he was satisfied we were not terrorist or
rum-runners and walked with me outside to interview Laura. He just looked at her then at her passport
before saying, “Looks like Laura” and that was it. We were officially back in the U.S.A.
Note that Southern Cross stayed in Cuba until the
following Tuesday and made it back safely to Key West on Wednesday morning.
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