Archive by Author
24. Dec, 2010

Cruising Cuba

Cruising Cuba

(Dodgy internet so more pics to follow shortly when we can upload!)

We had never been so happy to see a sheltered bay as we did when arriving in Baracoa. The 14hr overnight sail down the windward passage was definitely the worst conditions so far… howling winds, lightening and steep breaking waves, not fun at all! To top it all off in the early hours of the morning there was an amazing meteor shower in the night sky… felt like end of the world, apocalypse stuff!

We were happy to see that the human race (and ourselves!) had survived when arriving in Baracoa and were greeted by the usual Cuban welcome party of stern faced officials and drug-sniffing Spaniel in tow. We have learnt that cruising Cuba can be frustrating with certain ports being ‘prohibito‘ and while you can anchor you are not allowed on shore! We held our breath not knowing what to expect but as it turned out we were warmly welcomed and given a helping hand onto the dock.

Anyway, after the hectic voyage we had a great few days in Baracoa, a typical old run-down colonial town (the oldest in Cuba est. 1511). Baracoa is the home of cocoa and coconuts and has breathtakingly beautiful lush green mountainous surroundings. There were endless exploring opportunities… boat exploration up the exquisite Yumuri Canyon, hiking up to the top of the El Yunque (the dramatic anvil shaped mountain and landmark of Baracoa), swimming in crystal clear rivers and more scooter exploration of this amazing area.

15. Dec, 2010

Last of the Bahamas

Last of the Bahamas

Last few days in the Bahamas were spent checking out Long Island (yes, they are very original with their names…) Some beautiful scenery and old churches. Highlight was definately the ‘blue hole’, deepest in the world at 600ft. Its the spot for freedivers trying to break diving records… each to their own! Check out www.verticalblue.net

We waited for weather period to travel down the Ragged Islands, which unfortunately never came, so it turned out to be a straight overnight run to Duncan Town for the crossing to Cuba!

06. Dec, 2010

All is well…

All is well…

Finally we can use the classic Bahamian saying… ‘all is well, mon’. Last couple days have been spent fixing ‘the shroud’, so we can get the sails back up and head for Cuba. Turned out to be quite a mission as we had to take off the shroud, cut out the dodgy old rotten section and replace and fiberglass in new support and chain plate. Looks to be solid now and ready for the high seas.

We have had a good couple days in George Town enjoying the mellow town vibe and took a ‘day out’ to explore Great Exuma Island on a scooter. Couple of beautiful beaches and views of surrounding cays.

George Town is a typical island town, everyting happens sooowly but amazingly you can get just about everything you need here. We anchored off neighboring Stocking Island which has a classic beach bar but only one music playlist blasting away three songs on rotation so its definitely time to float on down the islands and out of the playlist range!

Next stop is Long Island where we need to wait for a weather window for crossing to Ragged Islands and Cuba.

03. Dec, 2010

Underwater Exumas

Underwater Exumas

Magical cave diving in Exuma Islands, Bahamas… the video

25. Nov, 2010

The Blues – the good & the bad!

The Blues – the good & the bad!

This is a post about the blues…. both the good type and bad!  We spent a couple days in bustling Nassau (capital of Bahamas) where we stocked up on the last provisions and experienced the local cuisine… conch (pronounced konk!) salads and fritas are the local delicacy. Nassau is not the most beautiful place but has everything you could need, including the lost city of Atlantis… yup, ol Sol Kerzner’s ‘creation’.

Once the weather was looking good we made the crossing to the first island in the Exuma’s island chain in a good 15-20 knot breeze. Unfortunately on arrival we noticed a major flaw with Pako. The port shroud bracket had started lifting off the deck, an important part of the rigging that holds up the mast! So it was a nerve-racking night worrying about every creak and groan. Morning inspection put things a bit more in perspective but unfortunately it was no more sailing until we can get the rigging sorted out in George Town (about 90 miles away).

The rigging blues were fairly quickly replaced though by the magical scenes of the Exumas as we island limped our way down the chain (using the donk/engine!). The water colors here are incredible and unfortunately photo’s don’t seem to do justice to the dramatic shades of blue. The last few days have been spent in the beautiful national park and we have got into the island rhythm with days spent exploring, swimming, snorkeling and of course evening ‘happy hour’ sundowners on the beach!

So we’ll continue to soak up the island paradise until we reach George Town where decisions will need to be made about ‘where to next’ for little yacht Pako! Fingers crossed!

16. Nov, 2010

The Sea Trials

The Sea Trials

So the Pako sailing machine has been put through the paces over the last week as we gingerly ventured into the open ocean on our first proper sail from Palm Beach to Miami, down the east coat of the US. Seas and winds were fairly heavy but downwind so we rolled along at a mellow pace.

Nice change of scenery from the murky swamps and gators inland, to the tropical waters, flying fish and dolphins!

The biggest challenge was coming in and out of the large ports of Fort Lauderdale & Miami, as we got dwarfed by gyronormously large cruise ships, US navy gun ships and the moerse megayachts. Wee little Pako held her own but the crew needed a very stiff drink at the end of the day, nerves properly wrecked! We may return alcoholics at this rate

We have been hanging out in Miami for a couple days waiting for favorable conditions for the gulf stream crossing to Bahamas. Tomorrow looks like the day so its an early 3am start… on that note, time to get some rest, adios for now!

13. Nov, 2010

Introducing Pako – the video…

Introducing Pako – the video…

09. Nov, 2010

Setting off across Florida

Setting off across Florida

Well, the last week has been ‘challenging’ to say the least! Due to unforeseen circumstances we were not able to spend any time with Pako’s owner George, so have had to figure out the boat and all its quirks on our own.  Diesel engine service… check, plumbing & water system… check, working of the head…check, battery/electrics…. ummh, not quite check! Still fighting with a faulty windlass (anchor) but more or less figured all else out.

So yesterday was the maiden voyage from La Belle heading east across Lake Okeechobee to Indian town, on our way to the Atlantic. Beautiful waterways (although alligator infested so no swimming!), and some locks to negotiate on way. The Okeechobee waterway connects the gulf coast with the Atlantic but has to deal with about 20ft inland elevation so there are a series of locks.

Carefully studied the charts but apparently you also need to read the fine print! We managed to take a channel that was not maintained since 1967 so needless to say there were some heart stopping moments when our depth gauge alarm was freaking out and we very nearly ran aground!

But we made it, with only a slightly bruised confidence!

31. Oct, 2010

Life in the swamp

Life in the swamp

We have spent the last few days in the swamps of south Florida… paradise found, definitely not! We are in outside a tiny town called La Belle which is famous for the annual swamp cabbage festival and armadillo race! Yup, for true, how awesome!

We met our boat Pako which is moored on a local river. First impressions were mixed… great, solid boat but as it had been left for almost a year with food on board it was not a pretty picture inside! Basically the last 5 days have been spent waging war on cockroaches. The battle has been won though and the boat is starting to take shape.

The other battle which unfortunately we have NOT won is with the swarms of mosquitos which descend every evening. Photographic proof below of Nicky’s mauled left foot!

Unfortunately there have been a few unexpected delays so our departure will only be late next week (probably a good thing since there is a hurricane brewing in the south!) We are currently busy prepping and stocking the boat for the voyage ahead.

A more detailed introduction to Pako will follow shortly, we promise…

20. Oct, 2010

Viking country

Viking country

Our flight to New York took us via Iceland where we had to change planes at the capital city of Reykjavik. Really interesting flying in over this dramatic, barren landscape. We landed only to be told we didn’t have required Schengen visa to transit so were ‘frog-marched’ through customs by some strangely apologetic customs officials.

Iceland looks like a fascinating place to explore (if you have the mula, its expensive!) – crazy natural beauty – and apparently even some good (cold) surf spots!

Unfortunately our brief visit only involved exploring the airport and tasting some of the fine local ‘viking’ cuisine – apparently the beer is made from ‘glacial water’! Check out the video below for more on Iceland…

Make like a viking