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Our Sail to Cuba
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Sail to Cuba and Check-In
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Trip Home and U.S. Arrival
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Trip home and U.S. arrival

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 uneventful.

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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