The Cruising Adventures of Joan & Ben Schuetz aboard
Part 7: At the western tip of Cuba
Fri., 10 December 1999
Well, here we are with more damn electronics aboard than you could wish for at Christmas and we can't get weather, Satellite TV, nada, nix, phooey. There must be more than a commercial embargo against Cuba here. Radio signals can't even get through.
OK, so we left Puerto Esparanza a few days ago, cruised the slightly green waters west to Cayo Jutias and anchored in a quiet spot up amongst the mangroves. Gosh, we can't believe it, no Guarda folks. We were all alone and loving it.
But, there's nothing special about this spot. Using the dinks and a glass bottom bucket we cruised all over the area looking for the “abundant” lobster. Nada. And unfortunately, for the next couple of days this scene was repeated. I am beginning to think that such critters just don't exist.
Leaving the memorable Jutias, we next went 35 miles west to the small town of La Fe. This place would break your heart. The main dock, built by the Russians eons ago, was in such bad shape that even the concrete pilings were dissolved half in two. We were of course visited by the local Guarda. They rowed out to our boats about a quarter mile in a small boat with only one oar to pull them ahead. The Guarda warned that we could not obtain anything in town except at the Mercado (market). We used our dinghy to pilot them around to the Heide.
The Mercado is where the citizens obtain, free of charge, one loaf of bread per person per day, coffee, a little rum, and a few veggies. The only fruit available was oranges.
The folks in town were a bit guarded on our arrival, but friendly when engaged. The whole of the fishing boats at the various docks, dinghies and up to a couple ancient 30 footers, wouldn't add up to a hundred bucks. One man was trying to start his diesel engine by heating the engine head with a blow torch.
There were two cars in town, a 50s vintage Buick and an beat up something or other that blew exhaust smoke of unbelievable proportions. Also a WW2 motorcycle with side car. So sad, yet the town was clean, the homes cared for, and the people well enough dressed. We felt very self conscious with our new dinghy and electric start outboard, etc. etc.
In the morning, at the appointed hour of 8 o'clock I went to the dock and picked up the Cuban Defense Force folks (Guarda) for our check out. All went fine and we were soon underway for the western extreme of Cuba.
Arriving at Cayo La Lena around 2 PM we anchored in the lee and dinghied over to the fishing shack and dock where the cruising guide said the fisherman would be friendly and helpful. Well, things have definitely changed since the guide was printed. We were coolly received and certainly not welcome. We can take a hint.
Heide near the western tip of Cuba.
In the morning, we will round the cape at Punta Cajon whose waters have a bad reputation and make for our Cuban check out at Maria de la Gorda (fat Marie). With luck and good weather we will be on our way to Mexico in the next 24 to 36 hours where maybe, just maybe there are some lobsters with our name on them.