December 28, 2002 to January 14, 2003
Santiago de Cuba to Cienfuegos

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On island time

(Click on a photo for a larger version)

Our first stop after Santiago was in the bay at Chivirico. The approach to the lagoon was complicated, but as the weather was calm we did not have any real problems. It is impossible to read the water as in the Bahamas, because it is not as clear as there. The following day we continued westwards along the Sierra Maestra mountain chain. It is easy to understand why Castro and his companions avoided being caught when hiding there. One of the peaks, Pico Turquino, is Cuba's highest at almost 2.000 meters. The bottom drops steeply to over 7.000 meters in places and, according to the Cruising Guide, the elevation here from the tops of the mountains to the depth of the ocean is the greatest, in relation to the horisontal distance, on the surface of the earth.


The Guarda arrives

At Cabo Cruz, the westernmost cape of the south coast, we anchored outside a small village. Three young Guarda boys rowed the long way out to Scorpio to inspect us. It is shallow and we therefore had to anchor far from shore. The settlement was off limits for foreigners, so we had to stay on board. The next morning they rowed out again to stamp our cruising permit before our departure.

Catch of the day

The Big One

The following weeks we visited several of the Cayos in the Golfos Guacanayabo and Ana Maria and in the Archipelago Jardin de la Reina (the Gardens of the Queen). We have never before had as much lobster as during this period. It is probably difficult to believe, but I suspect that one really can get fed up even with this delicacy.

Beach party at Cayo Cuervo

Robert and Juli were expert lobster catchers

Most of the keys are made up of mangroves and we did not find many beaches. Only once did we meet other cruisers, at Cayo Algodon Grande, and we only saw a few fishing boats. All the keys are uninhabited.

One of the few beaches, Cayo Guinea

Cuban fishing boat

The end of our guests' vacation was approaching. We therefore headed for the city of Cienfuegos on the main land, 250 kilometers southeast of Havana. It was time for the youngsters to return to civilization; a period of snorkeling, lobstering, rum drinking, cigar smoking and reading revolutionary literature was coming to an end.

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