Fantastic Bareboat charter.
My crew of 4 and i have now all disembarked and returned to our various homes and tasks in western Canada after our 7 day Eastwards Bareboat charter from Ceinfuegos Cuba.
We left the dock at the Yachtcharter Base which is at the very beautiful and historic Club Ceinfuegos on the south coast of Cuba and motored the 2005 Lavezzi 40 Cat through the deep and well marked channel and out of the harbor.
Quickly after plotting for our first destination which for most boats in the fleet here would need to be the lighthouse at Cayo Guano del Este. (Bareboat Charters here are restricted to daylight hours due to the many reefs) i turned to look at the quickly diminishing coastline and realized how little elevation this island Nation has which is not a problem unless you have 4 people trying to get a visual fix in the daytime on a lighthouse 48 miles out perched on a rock of about 10 feet elevation the size of a few football fields.I put my faith in my new friend the B and G plotter at the helm and seven hours later it proved itself to me and from then on with just a bit of awareness of the deviation between what was showing on the Instrument and what i was actually seeing we got along fine. As usual the instruments accuracy is what i refer to as Dummied Down a bit,Something about National security i presume. It seemed to be off by about 25 Meters which is close enough but requires lots of vigilance from any available crew when spotting one of the many reefs to snorkel or dive that we encountered.
Our boat included another plotter at the navigation station which was Galaxy tablet based however it was off about the same in the other direction.The electronic charts were great and in these Cuban waters show lots of reefs and rocks but it is easy to stay away from these obstacles unless and until you need to be in those areas then just keep watch and all will be well in your world.
It was a bit choppy at anchor overnight there so early in morning we went the 8 nautical miles to Cayo Sol which we hoped and in fact was calmer and cooked breakfast before we left for Cayo Largo which is 28 nm east from there. We arrived before dusk and called the Harbourmaster for clearance onto the dock and into the Cayos (keys) which is a requirement when entering and leaving the Cayos. Cayo Largo is quite nice and you can get water dockside and minimal supplies can be found at the one small store there. Be sure to provision according to your requirements prior to departing Ceinfuegos as truly there isnt much available anywhere in the keys.
We stayed an extra day and spent New years eve in Key Largo and had quite a good time there. The next day we just sailed around and went snorkeling ect but stayed at anchor near the harbour that night. The next day we beached the bows of onto the lee side of a sandy shore and set the anchor into the beach and spent that day exploring the beach which is quite safe since the twice daily tides there are at only about 1.5 feet,the winds stay constant where they are and the beach is steep enough to ensure the important parts like the rudders and saildrives stay wet.
One of our only two issues was our Dinghy engine was very problematic and would only run reliably when tied to the stern of the boat so i had to swim for almost an hour into the wind and tow it back to the catamaran twice during the week.
I did call the charter master who quickly sent a skipper and engineer from another yacht they were operating in the keys to perform some maintenance on the dinghy and while they were there i had them check the belts of the two Yanmar diesels which were crazy loose and the adjustment bolts were rounded off presumably caused by previous charterers using the wrong size wrenches as the tools supplied did not have the correct wrenches for the task nor did it include a vice grips or an adjustable Cresent wrench. The engineer that came to assist did manage to round the bolt off a bit more on the starboard engine and get the belt a bit tighter but he advised the port engine was sufficiently adjusted and performed no maintenance to that side. Normally i would not complain but since i was able to spin both the alternator and water pump pulleys on both engines with the belts on i knew they were to loose... On our return to Ceinfuegos the Port belt shredded and came off causing an overheat complete with the shutdown of that engine and i anticipated some additional concerns docking without it but all went well and after i texted the chartermaster he had staff dockside to assist.
All things considered i am always up for a few mechanical challenges. It was a great adventure and i was glad to be fortunate enough to do it
As always i am ready to seek out the next destination and when i consider where to charter a 14 year old boat i will remember that it is very difficult to get the proper replacements or any replacement parts in Cuba and may look to book a newer boat on my next charter.
December 2018, Cienfuegos with Lavezzi 40
Short taster trip
A very enjoyable 5 day cruise for two of us.
Magnificent scenery and helpful locals. Anchorages a plenty, with good breezes for half of our trip
We had some bad luck with stormy weather in first two days. In first night we had some issue with couple of windows which were unfortunatelly leaky and our skipper needed to stick some tapes and plastic sheet as recommended by charter
crew. We could reach on Sunday Skrandin which was without wind and wawes. Next technical issue on sunday was engine throttle trouble on the way from Skrandin, which was luckilly detected by our skipper and that is why we needed to go back to Marina Vodice and there it was analysed and some tiny engine rope and engine throttle were replaced by marina crew. Starting from Monday until Friday everything went fine. Because of scuba diver checks was required to be back in Vodice until friday 17:00 and thats why our sailing trip was a little bit shorter on that day. We stayed on boat until Saturday. We are already looking forward to next sailing trip.