Friday, May 20, 2016

Out and about in Bermuda

We went to visit Fort St. Catherine, that was built on the northeast coast of Bermuda. It was built right next to the beach where the first settlers came ashore in 1609 when their boat was shipwrecked.  The settlers were bound for Jamestown, Virginia, the leader Sir George Somers claimed the island for Britain and it was settled permanently three years later. 
There are lots of forts built around the island to ward off the Spanish and French. The guns at St. Catherine's were never fired in anger! Throughout the centuries regiments of British soldiers toiled endlessly, doing drills, firing, cleaning and moving cannons, eating very bad food. At one time the island was known for yellow fever and many died of dysentery. 
Walking around in the keep, where the munitions were stored was quite the experience. In this dark place one small spark could set off and explosion.  There were special lanterns constructed so that no one would get blown up and the floors were covered in wood so that no sparks would be set off by boots on the stone floor. 

Barry lined up this fast ferry in his sights!!
    This battery guards the main entrance into St. George's Harbour, where we are anchored. 

Yesterday we took the bus down to the other end of the island to "The Dockyard". This is where the British navy worked to repair it's warships through the centuries. The Dockyard was built first by slaves and then by prisoners. Once the jails in England were full in the 19th century, (you could be jailed for minor thefts, such as stealing a loaf of bread, or just for being Irish), they shipped the prisoners out of the country and one of the places they ended up was Bermuda. It was often a stopping place before being sent to Australia. ANYWAY, these prisoners constructed the Dockyard. They lived on rotting hulks of old slavers. These boats were no longer seaworthy but sat in the harbour with no masts or sails on them and were used to house the prisoners. 
It is quite an impressive place, and where 200 years ago the wooden caravels would have been docked the cruise ship stop. The Governor General's house stood atop the hill overlooking the yard and it now houses a very comprenhensive museum. 
I just loved some of the beautiful furniture that remains in the house. The tables are made out of mahogany and the richness of the wood just shone. Notice the watercolours of ships hung around the room, the beautiful chandelier, and the wonderful carpet. 
Today we are staying put on the boat.  There is a big blow out there and it is raining off and on. There was a near miss this morning as a boat dragged her anchor and got very close to one of our neighbours, always very worrying. Another boat came in from the ocean with their yellow quarantine flag flying, being pushed around by a tow boat, obviously their motor was out of commssion. There was a boat that came in yesterday in the same condition, no motor, but because of the different wind conditions, she was able to sail in and set anchor while under sail, always a pleasure to watch that being done well.  In the last few days we have met two groups of people and invited them onboard, it is always great to hear other's stories and share our home with them. 

Monday, May 16, 2016


We arrived safe and sound in Bermuda, motoring the last two days to get here. That was not so much fun but way better than getting beat up with big winds and waves. It is lovely here, warm and sunny and a gorgeous little town with winding lanes and everything clean and tidy. We have not had much of a chance to explore as we have decided to have new sails made and have been waiting around for the sail maker.  Our fridge has also decided it did not want to work anymore so we have been anxiously awaiting a technician, but have been unable to get a time frame from them so we are stuck hanging about close to the boat in case they call. We will be here for over a month waiting for the sails, there are worse places to wait, I guess. The only thing is that it will put our timing for crossing the Atlantic about 4 weeks behind. We wanted to spend some time in the Azores as they are supposed to be wonderful but I guess we will have to see.  It will be hard sitting here watching all the other boats leave, but on the positive side, we will get to know this area quite well. 
Yesterday I balked at the enforced wait and headed off on my own.  I discovered this wonderful little beach of the northern part of this island.  Bermuda is a series of small islands connected by bridges, it is about 20 miles long and only about a mile and a half wide at any point.  We are. In St. George's Harbour which is where the custom's and immigration is and where most sailing vessels seem to hang out.  There is a bigger, deeper harbour down at the main town, Hamilton, where the cruise ships dock. We have not been down there yet so I will leave that for a different blog. 
The graveyard at one of the churches, notice how neat it is and the different types of markers. There re quite a few that were for people that had died aboard ships. 
The first night we got in we headed down to the main dock here and the were two tall ships in town, one from France and the other from the Netherlands. 
A view of the harbour, notice all the whitewashed roofs. 
There was a house like this on one side of the street and on the other this is what I saw. 
Strange they would let this place remain on such a nice property.  I wonder if it was just never finished or what??  

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

At sea

30 degrees 22 minutes north
072 degrees 46 minutes west
If you draw a line directly south of the tip of Long Island NY that intersects with one from the northern border of Florida, that is approx. where we are. 434nm to go to Bermuda. 
Yesterday, I was a very proud sailor! We had overcome a calamity, something  that probably would have made us turn around and limp back to port ten years ago.  
When we left the United States, Barry and I had a discussion about whether or not our sails would get us across the Atlantic.  The genoa was made in New Zealand and we had the main made in Australia. That was approximate twenty five thousand nautical miles ago. Barry uncharacteristically thought they should last while I had my doubts.  There have been numerous rips and tears lately which indicates they are becoming brittle, the sun and the wind have worn them out. 
We had some very squally weather as we left the Bahamas, thunderstorms with big winds, which after their passage left us with big seas and very little wind.  That meant the sails were slatting about ( that is a very salty term which means banging back and forth, inflating as the boat rises over a wave and then deflating with a big slap on the downside of the wave). Well, the main just could not take it and it tore right across the sail about 2 feet from the top. We managed to get it down, luckily the line that runs up the back of the sail was still in one piece so I could pull the detached bit of sail down by the very thin line!  It was at dusk when this happened so we had no chance to repair it right away. We sailed under genoa  alone and at some point we tacked it and Barry noticed a big horizontal rip in it.  OH NO, both of our major sails out of commission at once, YIKES.  The genoa was rolled in and we fired up the iron jenny and motored on. We talked about going back to the States and ordering a new sail, we were about two hundred miles away, and while we were waiting for a new sail our weather window for crossing the Atlantic would slip away, June is hurricane season and we have no desire to tangle with one of those. 
At dawn I rustled Barry out of bed and as we had very little wind we were able to drop the genoa  without a problem. I washed both sides of the sail around the tear to get the salt off and let it dry.  Then we taped it up with our newish sail tape which sticks really well and put the genoa back up.  Sail tape held and we were able to turn off the motor and sail again while we contemplated our decimated main. 
It had separated on a seam across most of the sail, not bad, easily fixed, but then there was a tear which included a part right where one of the slugs was sewed on.  The slugs attach the sail to the track on the mast and are a point of great strain, NOT GOOD! 
We both problem solved for about ten minutes and came up with a good repair plan.  Remember that we are still sailing, the boat is heaving around and we are sitting on the cabin top underneath the boom, with a huge mass of sail jammed around us as we try to maintain our seats while we get tossed back and forth. We taped one side of the vertical seam and Barry sewed it for additional strength, I taped the slug back onto the sail and then reinforced it with 2 inch wide webbing on both sides so that it would not tear off again. We taped the foot long rip and reinforced it with sail material on one side and sewed it as well. 
Sewing by hand through tape, two piece of thick webbing and sail material is a real pain.  There is something called a palm which is a round piece of indented steel which is attached to leather strapping which goes around your hand that is used to push the needle through the material.  I had to push with all my strength to get the needle though all this.  This great force can lead to broken needles if you are not careful so we have a good assortment of various shapes and sizes of needles on hand. 
We finished all this at sunset, we had worked all day on it only taking breaks while two thunderstorms had passed over us. When the threatening clouds got close, we would stop sewing, gather up all our tools and put sail ties in three places on the sail and lash it down to the boom or whatever ropes we could. The first storm was vicious with driving wind and rain, soaking us to the bone, it lasted for well over an hour, living the dream indeed! 
We tussled with raising the main, getting it halfway on and figuring out there was a twist in it. Down she came, we flaked it on the deck and raised it again. When we had it almost up Barry was unable to get it any higher and we discovered the halyard was caught around the stair at the top of the mast.  We had to lower the whole thing for the second time, untangle the halyard and haul it back up.  Barry got his workout for the day. I was so proud and happy when I felt the boat leap ahead as the wind once again filled the main, that I shouted with pure joy. It is 36 hours later and the fix is still holding, YIPPEE! 
Combined, our knowledge gleaned from a sail repair class taken eleven years ago through the Bluewater Cruising Association and our experience in fixing numerous other rips and tears made it possible to turn a calamity into a proud moment. I remember buddies of ours, David and Linda from Toketie, BCA members of the fleet of 2006, described a similar situation, when they crossed from Tonga to New Zealand. Now I truly understand and appreciate their accomplishment in repairing their torn main.  All I can say is YEAH US, sail on!!! 

Sydney the Swallow

Sydney came to visit us our first night at sea on our way to Bermuda. Isn't he lovely. I figure he is a he because of his brightl colours; his lovely russet brown head and hs gleaming almost irredescent back.  We were over a hundred and fifty miles from any land when Sydney decided to have a sojourn aboard Cat's-Paw IV. I was down below sleeping and It was almost shift change time when Barry whispered that a bird was on the main winch and that I had to be careful of him. PARDON! Next I was informed that the netting to cover the entryway was down to prevent Sydney's re-entry below. WHAT!!  Good thing I didn't wake up with a bird fluttering about my face, mayhem would have ensued!
Later as I was about to wind in the winch Sydney had claimed for his perch, I had to touch his tail feathers in order for him to move. After the second light tap he fluttered off to the other side of the dodger where he took up residence on a line. He was still with us at daylight when Barry was once again on deck and we were doing a sail change.  Barry actually lifted him up and deposited him ( with the barest of peeps from Sydney) in the back of the cockpit in hopes that he would fly off and continue on his journey. He continued to perch head tucked under a wing when we were done taking in the sail so Barry moved him back under cover in the cockpit. 
He finally decided to leave mid morning and I was sure we had seen the last of him as he beat up into the sky. Last evening he arrived once again. I had actually seen two or three swallows winging their way across the sky an hour earlier but I was very surprised to see Sydney once again.  I knew it was him by the cock of his head and the proprietary air he assumed as he once again took possession of the main winch. 
                              Out of focus, but shows his colours better. 
Why, who, where, how come?? Where is he headed? Perhaps to his summer quarters in Canada. Who is he? I looked in my bird book and I think he must be a southwest cliff swallow, they summer in Canada to Mexico and winter in south Brazil to central Argentina. Why did he stop? Any port in a storm. How come he allowed us to handle him? At first I thought he must be injured but once he flew away I cannot figure out why he would allow us to touch him.  Any bird experts out there please e-mail me at to let me know the answers to my questions, PLEASE. 


A manatee in the marina where we checked into the Bahamas. Barry first saw it when we tied the boat up on the way to take a taxi to get enough money to clear into the country.  I knew we had to pay some funds to get into the Bahamas but I did not realize there would not be an ATM or that the Marina would not be able to advance us the money on our Visa card so we had to take an expensive taxi ride to visit an ATM and pay for a night at the Marina.  We were planning on just checking in and continuing on our merry way until we could find a free anchorage. That one was a lesson learned the hard way.  Once we were in Internet range I very carefully figured out the regulations for checking into Bermuda and the Azores!! ANYWAY, manatees need fresh water and I believe she/he was hanging out under a dripping tap getting her fresh water fix. When Barry first saw her he figured she was dead, but later she proved she was very much alive by swimming about. 
Apparently the Bahamas are just a limestone shelf that was all under water before the last ice age so everything is quite flat and most of the land we walked was made of limestone and was very jaggedy.  We have been slowly sailing across the top of the Bahamas in what is known as the Little Bahamas bank just north of Grand Bahama Island. This area was not hit by the most recent hurricane so there is no damage here. When we left West End, where we checked in we had to wait until high tide to transit Indian Cay Channel. This whole area is very shallow and a lot of the time we are sailing in less than one meter of water and sometimes that is very difficult on the nerves. The charting is very good though so we managed to leave without any damage although we did come to a gentle stop one time when it was just too shallow ( we were gong very slowly and Barry just reversed and we easily back out😳).
The water is such an amazing colour. I wanted to go snorkelling here so we took the dinghy through this narrow pass between very small rocky islands. I got in the water and held on to the dinghy as we were pushed around by the current. There were lots of fish moving about, I saw a skip jack darting about looking for a meal and then on the way back in the dinghy a beautiful spotted eagle ray glided by. A day later Barry pointed out a turtle lolling about in the water with one flipper sticking up, how appropriate, we were headed for Green Turtle Cay. 
The keel of some poor soul's boat! We saw a whole hull high and dry on a reef about 10 feet above the water line. 
We spent five days exploring some unihabited cays, having no contact with other cruisers, making short day hops from place to place.  We had an ear glued to the weather reports, as always, and once we heard that thunderstorms were forecast with possible gust up to 50 knots we headed for shelter.  We managed to get the last available mooring at Green Turtle Cay and are we glad we did.  The predicted thunderstorms appeared with an impressive display of lightening and the boat right in front of us, who had anchored close to a mooring field and whose owner left the boat, dragged her anchor about 50 meters and rehooked right next to us. The owner finally reappeared back at his boat and managed to get his anchor reset, once again directly in front of us. Luckily no other boats dragged during the very windy gusts.

Green Turtle Cay is about 25 miles west of where we left the Bahamas, two years ago.  We sailed up to the Chesapeake that year, this year our goal is somewhat further to the east.  We are going to brave the infamous triangle and head for Bermuda. We were able to check out of the Bahamas in Green Turtle Cay and we found some fresh fruit, veggies and yogurt to top up our provisions for the voyage. 
New Plymouth the main town on GT Cay was a joy to explore. The streets were extremely narrow and everyone drove around in golf carts, I did not see a car. The older homes were very well kept and I loved the gabled windows painted with bright tropical colours and the frangipani and wisteria growing in the yards. We planned to spend more time in the Bahamas but there was a good weather window for our crossing to Bermuda so we left. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Fort Lauderdale

It is hard to see but we are moored right next to the dark blue boat which belongs to our friends Dick and Anita from Kind of Blue, they are from the Netherlands. 

We arrived in Fort Lauderdale after a decent sail from Cuba.  We motored the last 30 miles into port as the wind had died and the sails were slating about although we were still making decent progress due to the Gulf Stream.  Our check in to the country was seamless, we did it all by phone and just had to show up at the Immigration office the next day to show our passports. We found a mooring ball about 3 miles north of the entrance and we are still on it.  We are awaiting some parts prior to our departure to the Bahamas. 
My mother decided she wanted to move so a frantic 24 hours after we landed once I spoke to her and my brother and arranged flights, I flew to Winnipeg to help her, my brother and his wife pack up her place.  She was really happy that I came and we all had some good times while stuffing boxes to the brim with her belongings. 
We sorted as we packed, Mom took what she wanted, Barb and Bob chose what they liked and I took some gems that we put into a storage locker in Winnipeg. My Mom is moving into a smaller place so I gladly took some of her fine furniture off her hands for use when we establish a home once again. 
I was sorry that I could not help out at the other end of the move but the logistics of getting to Calgary and back and where to stay was beyond me. It was great to be able to share the farewell they had at the church for her, a dinner with my cousin and his wife and a goodbye dinner arranged by the family of her good friend Bill McGowan. 
Meanwhile back on the boat, Barry was hopping on and off those rental bikes that some cities have that have stands all over the place, ordering parts and arranging for new chain to be delivered to the boat.  How he got it in the dinghy and on the boat and the old chain off the boat defies the imagination.  He said he was pretty tired afterwards!! 
Fort Lauderdale is one of the places where lots of cruise ships leave from. 
Here we are motoring past one of the monsters when we entered the port. There are lots of deals you can get on the water taxis, if you are in town pre or post cruise.  The beach is just too blocks from where we are moored and stretches for miles in either direction.  The waterfront is crowded with bars, restaurants and shops selling beach paraphernalia. The stores selling boat parts are about 5 km away across the big high bridge so getting there and back by bicycle is a good aerobic workout. 
Cat's-Paw IV is the sailboat on the right and the blue boat on the left is another boat from the Bluewater Cruising Association in Victoria. Neil and Peggy sailed her down the west coast and through the Panama Canal and are heading up to the Chesapeake where they will leave her for the summer. 
The shot is taken from the smaller bridge which is not so difficult to cycle over!!  Last night they had thought they had lost their wallets and in their panic to find them they did not secure their dinghy properly.  Friends had arrived for a visit and they came out to go shore to pick them up and their dinghy was gone. We lent them ours and after getting their friends the two men went on a dinghy hunt.  They went up the ICW and down the ICW and finally toured around the small mooring field.  They found it behind the powerboat on the extreme right of the picture under a dock.  A big cheer went up in the anchorage when they appeared towing it.  Yeah!! That is truly one of a cruisers nightmares losing your dinghy, we are so glad they found it. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Adios to Cuba

              The restaurant at Marina Cabo San Antonio, our last official stop in Cuba. 

We are on our way back to the U.S. having departed on Monday morning, April 11 from the west end of Cuba. The winds are not co-operating and insist on being in our faces so we are having to tack back and forth in the Gulf Stream. The weather is not ideal for making this passage, there is a big low up in Eastern Canada, no doubt whomping Jennifer, Mark and the kids in Nova Scotia with a late season snow storm. As a result, down here we are not getting our usual SE trade winds (which would be much more ideal winds for us, giving us a lovely beam reach) instead these rather annoying NE to ENE winds are making our ride bumpy and much longer than it should be because we have to tack back and forth rather than going in a straight line. 
We finished off our visit to Cuba with a spectacular dive near Maria la Gorda, near the south west corner of the country.  This spot is an international dive site and I can certainly understand why.  About 200 meters from shore there is an awesome wall. We were swimming along in the coral and then all of a sudden the bottom just dropped. Looking over the edge, the coral just went down out of sight. It was spectacular, I had to stop myself from hyperventilating as I experienced some vertigo. The sensation that your could fall into the abyss and just keep going forever took a bit to overcome.  Swimming along the canyons on the wall face, enjoying the unusual coral formations made for a very memorable dive. 
Checking out of the country in Marina Cabo San Antonio on the northwest corner of Cuba went very smoothly.  We waited three nights before making our crossing, making our way slowly up the coast, hoping the winds would turn in our favour. There was no break in sight,with a series of lows along the eastern seaboard causing havoc down here, so we left with the possibility of sailing instead of motoring. We hope to land in Fort Lauderdale. It is 370nm on the route we plotted, it will be interesting to see how much further the tacking will cause us to go. 
There are sand bars all over the place in Cuba and if the light is right, i.e. the sun is high and behind you, there usually no problem seeing the low spots.  Sometimes it is not so easy. 
The boat on the right could not see the low spot, note the cloudy sky. They were lucky and their buddy was able to get them off of it by pulling a halyard ( a line that goes to the top of your mast)  to tip them over so their keel could slide off the sand bar.  Look closely and your can see the halyard running from mast of the boat on the right to the back of the boat on the left. 
Even the locals are not immune to the effects of trying to cross a sand bar at low tide.  After selling us a lovely snapper, these fellows pushed and shoved their boat to deeper water.  We watched the man who is pushing the boat, snorkelling around for an hour with a spear gun and we decided that he could really use Barry's wet suit and so we traded it for the snapper. 
Barry said to tell you that this was his latest catch and if you believe that, there is some swamp land just up the coast that I could sell you. It was delicious by the way. 
It is almost midnight, the waning moon is glimmering off the waves, as we charge along into the night.  I am bundled up with a long sleeved shirt, a hoodie and a wind proof jacket on to ward off the effects of the NE wind and the cooler temperatures it is blowing in.  I stop typing every ten minutes or so and glance at the chart plotter and instruments to make sure we are still going the direction we should be,  (Bob, our windvane is faithfully doing all our steering) and then I do a slow 360 stare into the darkness to make sure we are not going to run into anything any time soon.  It's a great life if you don't weaken!! 

Sailing Info.

We are using the "Cruisng Guide to Cuba" written by Capt. Cheryl Barr,  Volume 1, Varadero to Trinidad, published by Yacht Pilot in Nova Scotia.  It has lots of great information, with way points to help you transit narrow passes and lots of information on what is available in the small towns covered by the book, as well as the flora and fauna in the area.  We have heard the Nigel Calder's book is very good as well. 

Maria la Gorda  21*49.3'N  X  084*29.9'W
Anchored in sand in 9m of water. Good holding, protection from the south and east.
No mooring available contrary to what the guide says. Very bouncy in a north wind.
Great spot for diving, equipment available, efficient diving staff. 
Restaurants available, small shop with limited groceries, no fresh food. Wifi supposed to be available, did not work when we were there. 
Anchor caught on coral patch so had to delay departure until daylight.

Cayos de la Lena  21*55.3'N  X  084*49.1'W
Anchored in 4m in sand and grass, Good holding, open to the east
Good spot to wait for a weather window east or west
No services, fishermen come through so keep a light on, sandflies galore 

Friday, April 01, 2016

Cayo Rosario

At Cayo Rosario we were lucky enough to see a whole crocodillo! There are wardens on this key as well and there is a small pond about five minutes walk from their dwelling. The warden threaded a line through a fish head and enticed the crocodile out to snatch at it. He threw it over a branch and then splashed it about in the water until the croc made his appearance, 
The warden and the croc played tug a war for awhile and then he positioned the fish head just at the edge of the pond and the crocodile came up out of the water for his photo op. After he had made his walk down the brownish carpet, we left him to devour the head and went on down the path. 
It was not easy walking, I am not sure you can tell from the pictures but the ground is covered in old coral and was very uneven and jagged to walk on. I thought our warden had something wrong with his foot, when I inquired about it he showed me his rubber boots, the bottom was detached from the sole and he was limping as a result.  The next day we went back to visit and took him Barry's rubber boots that he tromped around Cape Breton in last winter. We figured he needed them more than we did! 
We had a nice visit with them, I had seen an osprey and I took my bird book in to try and identify it. The fellow on the end was very interested in the book and looked at all the pictures, he produced a Cuban bird book and I was able to spot the osprey I had seen in it, it was not in my Peterson's Field Guide of Western North American birds. 
The guys were all busy when we arrived, the gentleman in the greenish shirt was sorting through the rice, removing the bugs, which he later fed to the chickens. The fellow with the machete was sharpening it. 
Shortly after they were absorbed in the delicate task of designing a new gasket for their outboard engine. When we left, after presenting them with Barry's boots and some spare coffee, we were given   three lobster tails as a thank you, a mutually beneficial exchange.
I snorkelled on a wreck on the reef just at the entrance to Cayo Rosario. Barry did not come in as he had cut his thumb while cleaning a fish and was taking good care of it, not wanting a reoccurrence of the ugly infection he had in Indonesia. 
We found the matching pair to the red one we saw on Cayo Campos. I wonder if that wreck on the reef was a result of a lack of one of these. I rather doubt it because that wreck looked like it had been there for quite some time!
Adding a blue flip flop to the driftwood sculpture on the beach. 
We spotted an elusive iguana. We have been seeing their trails on the beaches and the paths we have been hiking around for the past week. It was great to see one, he/she was about 60 to 70 cm long. 

Sailing Info.

We are using the "Cruisng Guide to Cuba" written by Capt. Cheryl Barr,  Volume 1, Varadero to Trinidad, published by Yacht Pilot in Nova Scotia.  It has lots of great information, with way points to help you transit narrow passes and lots of information on what is available in the small towns covered by the book, as well as the flora and fauna in the area.  We have heard the Nigel Calder's book is very good as well. 

Cayo Rosario  21*37.6' N  X  081*56.4' W 
We anchored in 5m of water in sand, very good holding
Reef protects anchorage from waves fro trade winds and the breeze keeps the bugs away
Lots of day anchorages  to snorkel and fish and great beach walking

Cayo Cantiles   21*37.3' N  X  081*57.9' W 
We anchored in 3m of water in sand, very good holding
Anchorage open to ocean swell as it comes in the pass, settled weather anchorage only
Visited the warden cabin from here, very helpful and interesting spot

Cayo Largo   21*36.9' N  X  081*34.6' W
We anchored in 3m of water in sand with very good holding
Great protection from sand spit, open to the west
Gasoline and diesel available at the resort, no propane, laundry services, restaurant/bar, small groceries store, limited goods, everything very expensive except restaurant food. 

Just east of Nueva Gerona

We have had an eventful few days, we have been escorted in an army jeep back to our dinghy and dragged anchor in an isolated key, where we were very alone! 
We had read there was a very unusual prison near Neuva Gerona and since we did not have time to visit on our shopping trip we decided to stop on our way as we sailed past and see if we could find it. Another cruiser told us that we could drop our anchor in the bay just to the east of town and walk to the prison. After a lovely sail along the north coast of Isla Juventud we saw a large building in the general area and anchored about 500 meters from the beach. I felt a bit funny about it because there was no Gaurda hut about and there were people on the beach. Oh well, the Presido Model is the spot where Fidel and Raul Castro were imprisoned after a failed attempt to take one of Batista's army bases, pre-revolution, and we really were interested in visiting it. 

Barry is up at the top in a white shirt just left of the stairwell.
The gorgeous building where they ate their meals. We figured there were 450 cells in one building with two to a cell and five buildings, that is a lot of prisoners, they must of cooked and fed them all day. 

We had a great time exploring the prison complex, it was quite something. We headed back and about 200m from the entrance we noticed an army jeep coming toward us. It slowed down and then stopped and an officer indicated to us we should halt as he got out of the vehicle, while talking on his phone. Damn, I knew we should not have stopped there. He asked if we spoke Spanish and we told him, a little, so once he had us ensconced in the jeep he very slowly explained that we should not have anchored where we did. He said, or at least, we think he said, that an alarm went out when they saw our dinghy on the beach. He did not yell at us but we knew we were getting a scolding. He told us we were too close to the beach and would have to move the boat and that we should have anchored back at Nueva Gerona, which was about 4 miles away and has a convenient Gaurda hut where guys can hang out on the roof and make sure we behave and that, heaven forbid, no Cuban's come to visit our boat.
He drove us back to the beach and we walked back to the dinghy. Standing guard over it was a Gaurda officer with a white shirt and stripes (a dead give away he is someone important) and a fellow in the normal green fatigues. The important guy got a call on his phone as we walked up (hmm do ya think it was the guy from the jeep), and then indicated we were to go back to the boat and leave. He got very excited when we were starting the dinghy motor and the dinghy turned and started to go sideways instead of straight back to the boat.  We hauled anchor and set sail under the watchful eye of all three of the officials, Cuba was once again safe from the dreaded foreigners on boats!!! 
We sailed about seven miles away and anchored at one of the isolated mangrove keys to the east of Isla Juventud. A Norther was scheduled to come through, the trade winds blow from the south east here so when a cold front comes, the winds clock around to the south, west and then blow a houlie out of the north. We were protected from the southeasterlies, and the norther but the anchorage was open to the west.  We got a good hold on the anchor when we set it while the wind was blowing from the southeast. We had the anchor alarm set, but Barry turned it off about 0300 when the wind had dropped and nothing had happened. I woke up and was listening to the shortwave radio just after 0700 when I figured the boat was not head to wind as it should be, we were tilting.  Barry looked out and we were very close to the mangroves, YIKES, we had dragged our anchor and were bumping on the bottom.  Fortunately there was enough water under us or the bottom was soft enough that we powered out of there as Barry hauled the anchor chain in. That was not good, there was not another soul around and we would have really had to work to get ourselves out of there if we had been any shallower, phew, dodged a bullet I'd say. 
We reanchored in another spot, the winds were northwesterly by then so we did have to worry about more than a 90 degree shift in the next 24 hours.  Barry had a hard time sleeping that night but the anchor held.  We are on our way further east towards Cayo Largo, a resort island. We will stop at least once or twice before we get there. Once we have explored that area we will turn back and head towards the west tip of Cuba. 

Sailing Info.

We are using the "Cruisng Guide to Cuba" written by Capt. Cheryl Barr,  Volume 1, Varadero to Trinidad, published by Yacht Pilot in Nova Scotia.  It has lots of great information, with way points to help you transit narrow passes and lots of information on what is available in the small towns covered by the book, as well as the flora and fauna in the area.  We have heard the Nigel Calder's book is very good as well. 

Cayo el Navio  21*52.9' N  X  082*36.0' W 
Anchored in 3m of water with sea grass bottom, anchor held in the SE and S wind
We dragged into the mangroves when the wind switched to the W 
Managed to power ourselves out of the area leaving big light spots where we had churned up the bottom. 
Reanchored at   21*53.2' N  X  082*36.3' W in 3m. Anchor held in winds NW through E. 
Protection from NW to SE.  No services 

Cayo Campos   21*33.7' N  X  082*20.6' W
Anchored in 4m in sand, anchor dug in well 
Good protection, reef to stop waves where open to the south 
Nice beaches and great swimming and snorkelling, 5 boats in anchorage, most we've seen yet
Great walking trails ashore