The Cruising Adventures of Joan & Ben Schuetz aboard
Part 2A: Preparing to cross the stream
Sunday, 21 November 1999
Just a quick note.
Heide has arrived and we are ready to move toward the Caribbean. After tomorrow, if the weather is right, we will head for Key West where we will get the requisite permission to leave the Security Zone. ( A Presidential state of emergency, embargo, is in effect for Cuba. This emergency has been effective since forever, but does not restrict private vessels from visiting the country. It does restrict American citizens from spending money there.) It takes about 48 hours to get permission to leave and during that time we will wait on the hook hoping the weather will be cooperative soon after for the 90 mile crossing.
The crossing will take about 18 to 20 hours because we will be bucking the Gulf Stream current of anywhere from 2 to 4.5 knots. Therefore, we will leave Key West in the late afternoon, cruise all night, and arrive at Marina Hemingway in good daylight. Hemingway is something like 20 miles west of Havana and it is the best port of entry for cruisers.
(As it turned out, we were able to get the Permit to Leave the Security Zone from the Coast Guard Station at Marathon. So we didn't need to put in at Key West.)
Everyone that we have talked to that has been to Cuba has said it is a terrific place to go with very friendly folks. As you have probably seen on TV, the cities are essentially frozen in the time of the early fifties. We have two cruising guides for Cuba and Cuban charts of the local waters. Everything looks pretty straightforward. Our cruise west on the NW coast of Cuba will be inside of the barrier reef most of the way with lots of small Cays to tuck into the lee (get on the downwind side) for the night.
With good weather, the next part of The Adventures will be coming to you from Marina Hemingway.
Joan, Ben & Maggie