The Cruising Adventures of Joan & Ben Schuetz aboard
Part 4a: Interesting weather
Thursday, December 2, 1999
On Tuesday, Novmeber 30, I listened to the weather on WLO 8,788 kHz at 7:00 AM and the forecast was for winds 20 knots N-NE, seas 7 to 9 feet, but for Wednesday through Thursday, the winds were to pick up greater than 25 knots with considerably greater seas.
In our snug little harbor off of the Bahia Honda we are so well protected that only if the wind achieves gale force will we even notice it. But, there's not too much to do here and we want to get inside of the barrier reef only 20 miles further west for good fishing, snorkeling, island exploring and protection from the weather for cruising the length of western Cuba. So, we decided to poke our noses out of the Bahia Honda and try to run for it.
Well, the seas were easily 9 feet with a short enough period that we were dropping off of them with a bang and then burying the bow in the next one occasionally having up to a foot of water on the forward deck. Even Heide, with her high prow, was taking water over the bow. After about an hour of slogging, the wind began picking up and it was obvious that not only would be continue to have a bad time of it, but when we got to the cut in the reef, it would be too dangerous to pass.
Once we made the turn back to Bahia Honda our ride improved greatly and the return was uneventful. After checking in with the Guarda (again) with tail between our legs, we returned to Ensenada Santa Teresa to anchor.
Around midnight, the wind began to howl. Radar showed a large squall moving through with some ferocity. It was nice to be snug and warm that night.
Wednesday, December 1st, we just stayed hunkered down. The wind continued at 20 to 25 knots and the weather forecast was pretty glum. Around Midnight, contrary to the forecasts which called for high wind through Sunday, the wind died down. It stayed down until around 8 AM on Thursday, when we checked out with the Guarda again. Heide led through the channel to the outside. The sailboat “Sundancer” behind them. We used our dink to return the Cuban official to his hut, so we made up the rear.
On the outside, we found ourselves back in 7 to 9 foot seas, with an occasional really big guy. The seas were out of the E - NE so after we made the turn to the west, it was an OK ride. Just had to mind our Ps and Qs. Getting to the next stop as soon as possible would get us on the inside of the barrier reef for the rest of the trip to the west end of Cuba. We only had a couple of hours in bad water before we made the entry through the reef at Quebrada de la Mulata. The reef was very well marked and it was indeed a good all weather entry point.
Once inside, we were in 1 to 2 foot waves and lots of pretty scenery with shallow coral gardens, lots of small islands and great protection from the wind. We cruised about an hour to Cayo Levisa and found a beautiful anchorage tucked in between mangroves. Beautiful mountains to the south with an upside down W that resembles a butt crack. It was easy to use that for navigation purposes.
The countryside is very pretty and only very sparsely populated. What a surprise. Not a fisherman, lobster pot or boat to be seen. We understand the lobsters are abundant and can't wait to get into the water tomorrow to have a look see.
All for today. We are safe, the boats are working great and the adventure continues.
Joan, Ben, Marg, Marv & Maggie