January 30 to February 14, 2003
Cienfuegos to Isla Juventud and Mexico

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From Cienfuegos to Cayo Largo del Sur Scorpio was manned only by its regular crew. It felt strange to be only two aboard after almost two months with several guests. The first night we anchored in the minimal shelter west of Cayo Guana del Este.


The Guarda post at the entrance to Cienfuegos

The Cayo Guana del Este lighthouse


The wind was a little bit too much in the north and the captain decided to remain on anchor watch in the cockpit until 2 in the morning. There were two other sailing vessels and one of them, a chartered bare boat, started to drag its anchor at midnight. Fortunately it passed well away from us (which has not always been the case) and I could see that the crew appeared to be in control. Probably saved their vacation.

Barbeque on the beach

Life is good!

Tomas, an old friend who flew in through Havana, joined us in Cayo Largo. He had just celebrated his semi centennial birthday and decided to reward himself for that achievement with a week aboard Scorpio. We then continued along the cays to the west of Cayo Largo, feeding mostly on lobster and each evening pondering, in the cockpit under a starry sky, about many things between heaven and earth.

Nuova Gerona, accross the river from the dock

The fence and 2 of our security guards

At Nuova Gerona, the Capital and only city on Isla Juventud we tied up alongside the dock in the center of the town. The area was fenced and guarded by security forces. As we did not experience any crime during our stay there, we assume that the real purpose was to prevent us from inviting locals aboard - which was forbidden. We were only 4-5 foreign cruising vessels, one of them a British owned Swan 57 crewed by two Finnish guys. Christian and Pekka had taken a sabbatical sailing the boat over from Europe to Caribbean at the end of last year. Next summer they would sail it back across again. All locals we met were very friendly, some to the extreme, and seemed genuinely interested in our well being and our journey. The highlight of the stay in Nuova Gerona was a dinner party, which we managed to arrange in a local home.

3 Finnish guys a long way from home

Dinner party with locals at Nuova Gerona

Soon it was, however, time for our guest to fly back to Havana and further home to Scandinavia, and for the crew of Scorpio to return to normal life. After clearing out of Nuova Gerona we stoped over night at the Ensenda de los Barcos an spent a few days anchored at Caleta Puerto Frances. Then we set sail for Isla Mujeres in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. We arrived in the "Isla" after a pretty rough passage 36 hours later. The seas and current in the Yucatan Channel were confused and unfavorable, respectively. Despite 30 knots of winds on the beam, 3 sails and the propulsion engaged, our speed over ground was for hours only between 2 and 3 knots.

We did not have a decent chart of the Isla Mujeres area, where we arrived after nightfall. Thanks to some very helpful cruisers in the anchorage we made it safely anyway. Kurt aboard s/y Wild Blue even came out in his dinghy to guide us in. As so many times before, we were reminded of the privilege of being part of the cruising community.

More photos from our cruise in Cuba can be browsed as a Slide Show HERE. This link opens in a new window.

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