Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Wotcha Fidel!

It looks as though we may be able to spend up to three months cruising Cuba, that should be enough to get a decent look at the country.

Research is getting in to top gear now. We have had a copy of Nigel Calders' cruising guide for some time and have recently acquired an old copy of Simon Charles' guide.

The bit that was concerning me were the charts. When we got to examining our pile of them that live under our berth I found that I had been mistaken. I thought, and had cataloged, that we had at least one chart of the whole island. Well I was wrong - the only decent chart we have is of Guantanamo Bay! Oh dear! Somehow I think that is one we really won't be needing..

It is difficult to get things sent here to Guatemala. An extremely zealous customs office in the City have a tendency to hold you to ransom over any package sent in to the country. My copy of the latest Harry Potter book was held for 3 weeks and a fine of 100 dollars threatened...took the combined muscle of three of us badgering the DHL offices in London and Guatemala to get it released. So I am not eager to repeat that experience.

I contacted two of the major chart sellers in the USA. Curiously, despite a ban on their nationals visiting Cuba, they supply charts for the country, work that one out.

Yes they had the charts we wanted but would only send them via a carrier like Fedex. Damnation. I had wanted then sent by US mail as that stuff seems to get through no problem. Oh well back to the drawing board.

Then yesterday evening in the bar a fellow cruiser, hearing me moaning, said he had all the charts of the south coast and that we were welcome to have them! How wonderful! He is American and cannot visit, much to his intense disgust..

That now solves the charts and pilot books problem so no more excuses, its definitely Cuba for the summer. Buena Vista Social Club, Fidel, Che Guevara... I am getting more excited by the day.

The boat jobs are coming along well. TBH replaced the packing in the stern gland yesterday. We had put in some of this new 'drip-free' stuff when we hauled out but it has been a disaster. After our first trip down the river the product just span out of the box and plastered the compartment with nasty black sludge.

I hadn't really understood why we had to change from the good old fashioned flax in the first place. It worked very well. Still, $75 poorer, we are back to where we started and all is well. Probably we got the pressure wrong when we did it up or something but no matter, all's well that ends well.

Next major event is to mend one of the two autopilots that are both currently non-functioning. Although we use our Monitor as first choice for some coastal passages the auto-helm is much easier and more practical. Sudden wind shifts and navigational dangers are not conducive to leaving the Monitor to do it's thing!

The hydraulic version has never really functioned and when one of the display headers failed a few thousand miles ago we cannibalized it and kept the electric version working. On our passage here from Roatan that too failed and kept turning itself off line so TBH's next task is to try and get one of the units working again.

It never stops does it! I have also decided that we need to renew our passports before heading north so that means a couple of trips in to the City to visit the British Embassy. Hopefully that will go smoothly and we may also try and acquire American visa's if we have the time....

In the meantime I am listening to Cuban music, watching the film 'Motorcycle diaries' a great movie about the early life of Che Guevara, and reading anything I can get my hands on about the country, it's history and people. Looks like it could be a fascinating cruise.

The video is of the Bueno Vista Social Club in action:

...and this is the trailer for Motorcyle Diaries, a great film :

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