January, 2022

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Sunday January 16, 2022 in Havana

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

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But I had a pretty decent ride back, after a lot of asking and getting contradictory directions, for the grand sum of 15 pesos= sixty dollar cents. Now I know my directions for the next visit to Havana. But it is not door to door, from the highway to the boat is a 10 minute walk. I am part way, but I sure hope, the storm will calm down. A huge downpour started while I was having coffee and a long chat with Bernard Nielsen an ex-pat Dane. He pointed me in the right directions to the “wawa” bus.

Havana once had to be a magnificent city. And much of it is left. A beautiful setting on the edge of the Caribbean Sea. It has a lot in common with San Juan P.R. and Santo Domingo, but is much larger. It does not have the elevations and vistas that San Juan has.

I have made a You Tube of the visit, most of it is the mass at the Cathedral. https://youtu.be/HfObem4EsJQ

I am sure I’ll be visiting the city again before I depart, the vists to Hemmingway’s Finca Vigía.

Havana, Jan 15, 2022 Damage update and rubbing elbows with the spirits of Ernie and El Comandante

Saturday, January 15th, 2022

Buenas Tardes. I had a diver check the damage to Thursday’s Reef Rocking. He took a video. I was afraid that there might be some damage to the hull. None, just the keel. There is a slight crack between the keel and the deadwood. This has happened before. The port forward keel bolt is weeping some water. I managed to crank it a ¾ turn tighter. I’ll have to keep an eye on it.

The internet access is a whole lot easier than the 16 km round trip to Santa Lucia from Pto. de Vita. It is an a.c. lobby of the nearby hotel with my name on it, “El Viejo del Mar”. I can use my Etecsa prepaid cards there. Since I prewrote this on the boat, to save on the Internet time, I ended up, this evening, at the Club Nautico Internacional Hemmingway de Cuba. These pictures on the facade of the club say it all. Fidel is encouraging the youth to appreciate the connection with my favorite hangout, the salt water. Ernie must have had some influence on the young rebel.  The other pictures show Ernie and Fidel and Che Guevera on a Marlin fishing trip, the rod they used is displayed here above the pictures. So, what is the lesson? This ass hole, who dumped Cuba into a 3/4 century of misery can’t be all bad.

Castro preaching the sea to the Cuban youth

 

 

 

 

The fishing trip. Che in the lower row 2nd from left. The rod on top of tableau.    

blow up from tableau. Ernie with Fidel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope to visit Ernie’s digs in Havana tomorrow; the legend of the tumultuous times from the year I was born and when I started my life in the New World. My old friend, Howard Richardson, claims to have rubbed elbows with Ernie in Havana.

The driver of the 1949 Chevy Fleetline made me a deal, I could not refuse, for a ride into Havana, tomorrow morning. I am very much looking forward to spend the day in Havana and go to mass at the cathedral of San Cristobal.

Check this real Traditional Salty yacht out, the “Monara” from Antwerp, Belgium. She caught my eyes on sailing into Beaufort, N.C. on December 9, I wanted to know more about this gorgeous lady. Belgium, where Rose Marie was born in 1968 and Jeannine in 1969. But they were gone a couple days before I left Beaufort on December 13. Now I got my chance. She was right here a few boats ahead in the Hemmingway marina. She was built in Delft, Holland. http://monara.be/about.html Based on a traditional Dutch fishing trawler. Jan, the owner, sailed it with his wife and daughter, in July from Antwerp by way of the New Hebrides, Iceland, Newfoundland, down the Atlantic Coast to Beaufort and Havana. They left this morning at 7 am, for Varedero. I am sure that many of the sea-going condo yacht owners look with envy at this “real” salty version.

Monara

Monara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This picture is dinner on January 10. I bought this Butternut Squash before I left Beaufort, N.C. on December 13. Today it is still good for three dinners.

Ode to Squasha choice between tasteless canned vegetables.

 

Last night, I had my first tasty meal on Cuba. I had spent too much time taking care of entertaining you in publishing yesterday’s blog and the government store was closed. I was told I could buy my adult beverage at the Chinese restaurant, a stone throw from “Fleetwood”. No menu, no prices. I was aghast when I got the bill $60. The bottle of Santiago de Cuba rum was half of it. In the government store it is about $5 for a lesser quality.  But my meal could have fed 3 people and was as good as you can get in a decent US Chinese restaurant. I took part to the boat and donated part to the man who watched my bicycle.

Hasta manana de Habana, with more news about this historic city. Wishing all a good Sunday.

 

vO On the Rocks again. December 14, Havana.

Friday, January 14th, 2022

Well, I did it again. But what appeared to be my third shipwreck, to be, was not to happen. Thank God, for the intervention of my prayer circle.

I managed to reach my handheld VHF and sent out a Mayday and I set off the alarm on the Garmin “In Reach”, the surf was slamming the boat and I was hitting the reef hard. I tried to back off on the engine but I could not get off, against the strong wind, but then, suddenly I am floating free. It must have been a big wave in the outgoing tide that set me free.

After clearing in and getting moored at the Hemmingway Marina, I checked for any leaks. Nothing.

This morning, I took a closer look. There is some damage but that can be fixed again. There has to be some scratches and nicks on the bottom of the cast iron keel. But I had already planned my annual spring haul out in Northern Florida. It will be a bit earlier this year.

How did it happen? I left Puerto de Vita on Saturday the 8th, had some of my best sailing that day, just using the 90% Jib reaching in a 15 knot North-Easterly. The mainsail cover did not come off until the next afternoon. Monday nigh was nasty, the wind went further north and strengthened, thunder storm on early Tuesday morning. By the time I got to the narrow entrance to the canal into the Darsena Marina at Valedero, it turned out that I was no longer in a storm squall, but in the predicted cold front from the North. The 75 ft entrance did not look good with huge surf battering the beaches on both sides of the entry. It was still early in the morning and I decided to skip the Varedero and keep going to Havana. I got there by late Wednesday morning. But when I came close, I realized that I may have to make an other plan. I could not raise the marina on the radio. There appears to be a problem with my reception. They can hear me but I cannot hear them.

The only safe/deep enough anchorage is Bahia de Hunda, 38 miles further west. That turned out to a very nice sail. I arrived in the dark, but the moon as had good instruction in the Cuba Waterway Guide.

I had a good rest after the three nights constantly waking up to check the track and traffic.

Since it was also a reach back in the North wind, I tried Havana anew. The wind was less than on Wednesday and also more from the N.W. than the North. But it turned still out to be a rough entry, with the strong wind on the stern, I had a heck of a time steering a straight line. And suddenly, my worst nightmare, had me on that reef. The instructions in the guide are very specific but the channel markers are very misleading and I must have a strong set to the starboard side of the channel. Now that is history and another lease on my vagabondery.

I sent Lisa an e-mail on the Garmin In-Reach satellite tracker. Most likely she would have been the first to be contacted by the emergency services.

 

After the hundred signatures in the Customs/Health/Border Security and the Marina office I went searching for a bottle of rum, with Rubin am employee at the Marina, at the Yacht Club and ended up at the “El Viejo de Mar (Old Man and the Sea) Hotel”. There I ran into Rigo and Gino from my next-door neighbors, “Shalom”, a 30 ft Catalina, the pair had sailed from Tampa loaded to 1 foot below the waterline with gifts for the locals here. Rigo is an American-Cuban from here. Apparently, this was his third attempt. This time he managed to pay off the right people. He does this for a church group, but there appears to be more to the enterprise. His younger brother and sister-in-law joined us later, they still live here, as is the rest of is family. A handsome dude with a fabulous attitude and does not take no for answers. He treated the entire table of seven, it was their farewell dinner. They left this morning for Key West at 4 a.m.

Gino, in his forties, also a real fine dude, is living a very full and busy life. I tried to determine his origins, he speaks flawless Spanish, he lived in Bogota and Medellin and his next destination is Bali. He told me that he is a Hebrew, we tried real hard to convert each other. He did his home- work.

There was a second couple at the table who live nearby and are good friends of Rigo. He is a wood worker artist. I saw fabulous pictures of his art and plan to visit their home and work shop. His stepfather, a Colombian-American, is the largest diesel engine dealer in Ft. Lauderdale. I suspect that he is also his beneficiary to be able to practice his art, since there is a very limited access to customers at this time. We were the only dinner guests at the hotel. There are only a couple visiting boats here and a couple more regulars in this 600m plus berths marina. I learned much from my new friends about the street savvy and how to exchange your Euros and Dollars. Apparently, the 24.50 pesos the bank pays for my Dollar gets as much as 65 on the street and Euros a much as 90 instead of the bank 27.50

So, I wished I had brought more cash. I figured that with my Dutch ATM card I was all set. That was the way in 2017.

 

I am going to try get an inspection of the underwater damage. There is a very slight weeping through the port forward keel bolt and some flexing of the back bone and an old crack opened slightly. Nothing in the main repair of the hull I did for the 2017 for the hull opening. The starboard rod of the two steel pressure rods I added between the mast step and bulkhead cabin roof top has flexed. I will consult with the previous owner/builder and George Whisstock the creator of the NAJA kit.

 

I just had to get this picture of the 1949 Chevrolet Fleetline. My 1951 two door Fleetline was the first car I ever owned. I was not 21 yet in 1957 and I needed to be an emancipated minor because I had no parents or family in California to co-sign the registration and insurance. So, I got a jump on growing up over my little twin brothers…

1949 Chevy at emmingway Marina

1957 in Yoshemite

1949 Chevy was the current owner’s grandpa’s vehicle.

Tuesday January 4th. Frustrations with the backward communist sysyem.

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

 

I have been here in Puerto de Vito for a week. And it will be a few more days until I can use my Euro credit card. Today the bank and the prepaid internet facilities re-opened since the 29th of December. There were long lines for both. I needed to buy 5 more one-hour cards for the internet. Yesterday I had a little over a half hour left but the Dutch Bank left me on hold until the card ran out. Back at it today. I barely made it because with all the waiting for the cards I ran almost into their siesta from 11 am until 1.30 pm. And by that time the Dutch bank service would have closed with the 6-hour time difference. Thank God, that I have become such a patient person in this totally relaxed world.

What I found out is that my Dutch debit card seldom is accepted but that they will take the credit cards. I remember that in 2017, when I was on the south side of Cuba, I had no problem with the debit card for paying and taking money out of the walls. I offered the marina to pay them by telegraphic transfer from my Dutch account. But they do not have that possibility.

So, the new plan is that the Credit Card company will mail a new code for my (never yet used card) to my sister and she will then e-mail me the instructions so that I can pay my marina bills and get some cash and be on my way further west.

The people here are very nice but it is difficult to spent nearly two hours per day on the rough roads here to get on the internet. There are no mosquitos but, boy, the no-seeums have no mercy. They have little respect for bug spray and I have to wrap myself from neck to toe. And even though this is supposed to be the cooler season, it gets blistering hot in the boat. Once I get to a more permanent spot, in or near Havana, I’ll put the cover over the boat and might invest in a 220-volt fan. I have a small 12 volt going now.

 

The other problem I have is with my Avionics Caribbean charts. I have another good set but it does not cover Cuba. It turns out that I cannot access the Charts I paid for on line. Garmin web site (owner of Avionics) has no connection to Cuba. I swear that it was all working before I left Beaufort. But then discovered, that it was not. This port of entry is very easy to enter from where my American charts stop and I have a very good Cruising guide. That gives the harbor chart for the Marina here. Now, I discovered that I do have a good Navionics chart for this part of Cuba. But Not for where I am going. So, what to do.

Here is a short you tube video of the potholed roads in Pto de Vita and Santa Lucia and the colorful traffic: https://youtu.be/WPvH36cyrW0

New Year’s Eve Traditions on Cuba. Friday December 31, 2021

Saturday, January 1st, 2022

New Year’s Day 2022 in Puerto de Vita, Cuba

I slept right through it. But woke up to the sound of the roosting Egrets getting ready for the first day of the New Year.

Roosting Egrets

Yesterday I explored the opposite direction of Santa Lucia. I was told that I should find an internet connection in Mellia. None there. I went further down to the beach where the resort hotels are at Pesquero, no luck there. Next to the closer resort at Faro, same story. I got plenty of exercise. Uphill was mostly on foot because I only have one of the eight speeds of my derailleur working. The cables are all rusted again. Only front brake works. I hope to find a repair shop here. And with my luck I had the strong trade wind in the face on the way there and on the way back the wind had slowed into a whisper.

But I enjoyed the landscape of rolling hills and wide vistas.

But the human aspect is what keeps me on this unending discovery. I heard some music from below and saw smoke rising from a small farm house.

It happened to be a family gathering for the traditional New Year’s Eve pig roast. This was Tito’s place. I asked if I might take a few pictures. The immediately presented me with roasted potato and tomato chips and a taste of their home Rum.

It reminded me of the hospitality and generosity I encountered in the South Pacific. These people know how to be grateful with next to nothing. Look at the video.

A 5-year-old offered me a beautiful seashell and his little sister also presented me with her smaller version.

Sea shells

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check the You tube video with the colorful spectacle of this happy gathering: https://youtu.be/TuKmEUEk2Jw

I am sending this from Sta. Lucia. I still have to try and reach my Amsterdam bank and deblock my Euro account. This will now have to wait until Monday.

After I sent my previous blog from Sta. Lucia, I managed to find some vegetables and bread. The vegetable man spoke fluent German. And the baker had also worked in East Germany and lived in Genk, Belgium, he knew some Dutch. I remember on my first visit to Berlin after the wall had come down to meet Vietnamese who spoke perfect German. These were guest workers who were farmed out to the Russians in exchange for military assistance. And later in Vietnam I ran into more of these German speaking Vietnamese. It became dark on the way back. I was deadly afraid that my rechargeable headlamp might run out, which it seems to do at the most inappropriate occasions. There are no street lights and the potholes are deathtraps. The opposing traffic on the main highway blind me. Then I discovered that I had missed my turn off and had to go back two kms. But my praying guardian angels kept the light burning. I was totally exhausted, many of the hills have to be walked because of the high gear limit and then on the way down I must slow down with the one working brake, in the dark.

One difference I noticed in this part of Cuba, there are fewer African Latinos than I saw in 017 on the South Coast.

I just found this real restaurant here in Sta. Lucia, with cold beer and air conditioning. These Christmas decorations here in the restaurant are not meant for other than Chinese markets. So, very Lunar New Year like.

Christmas Chinese Style