Friday, April 20, 2018

Cuba South Coast Cayos & Diving

So we got up at 6.30am after a big night out in Cienfuegos but I forgot to mention a Cuban thing that happened as we planned to leave - they closed the port! Well, what actually happened was we had cleared out, had our cruising permit on board and were just going ashore when the dock master appeared, in his very unseaworthy speed boat! He told us the port was about to be closed so we had to leave immediately or wait until it reopened. Why was it closing? When would it re-open? He didn't know either..... One yacht quickly upped their anchor but we had plans.... so handed over our cruising permit reluctantly and went ashore. An hour later the dock master comes over to the bar with our cruising permit - the port is open and actually it wasn't closed, it was another port that was closed and the harbour master misunderstood... hilarious!

We motored out of the harbour and at the entrance passed a swarm of local fishing boats bobbing and rolling in the swell but no wind on a glorious day. Rhapsody followed us and we both set a course for Cayo Sal. The wind finally came in about 10am at 15-17knots and we had a fantastic sail all the way past the Bay of Pigs. We came onto the bank where the depth came up from hundreds of metres to 6 within a mile. The swell was still rolling in but we managed to get pretty close to the island and get enough protection for a comfortable night in this pretty open anchorage. We jumped in the water to check the state of Askari's bottom....

The anchorage at Cayo Largo

Oh my goodness, we have never had such a dirty boat. We spent a few hours trying to clean off as much as we could but it was just so thick with worm, it needed a second and third attempt finally with dive gear later. Cienfuegos is a great town but the water must be thick with sewage! Next morning we sailed on the inside of the reef down to Cayo Largo in 15-20 knots and we were much faster. We got permission to anchor in the bay in a truly spectacular spot. Rhapsody, Hummel and Tara all arrived and we had quite a crowd at Cayo Largo. We moved into the marina as rain was due for a few days and air-conditioning was calling.....

Wow - South Coast of Cayo Largo

Swimming pool

I can't get enough of this

It really doesn't look real

We had lobster lunch

Cayo Largo is completely a tourist island and the all inclusive resorts are dotted all around the island. No Cubans live on the island permanently they just come for work 4 weeks at a time - the lovely lady in the Marina Office had done this for 29 years. She shared her office with her ex-husband, the harbour master, who had a similar term. He said they were best of friends, her face told a different story. So when I gave her a bag of beauty treats, so she could always look her best, she gave me the biggest hug and almost a tear. I guess when you have a good job in Cuba you don't give it up whatever the personal circumstances - we have heard stories of people paying to get jobs that give exposure to tourist tips especially. The good news is that the marina is overrun by tourists during the day but not in the evening when it's just the yachties and the locals, who have accommodations in the area near the marina. On a Wednesday they have a big party that starts at 10.30 - it's alot of fun!

Selfie of course

The birds are not afraid here
Tree on our long walk
We walked to the beach - a round trip of nearly 20kms and found one of the best beaches I have ever seen (yes a big call), even if you have to be subjected to the clothes optional areas. Despite the lack of Cuban culture we actually really liked Cayo Largo - it was so beautiful and the sea around the island is so special. We had a fantastic day diving on the reef just off the marina area where there are small islands. 

I loved this sign - very trusting at the airport
We finally said our goodbyes to Rhapsody - Ada gave us a stone she had painted to remember them - it's a bit heavy (ha ha) but we love it. It has the words 'We remember the moments! We do not remember the days....' We hope to meet up again in the Pacific next year - we miss you guys!

Saying goodbye to the Rhapsody crew

So much laughter with Ada and John

And finally here's a few diving shots - the water was just so clear. We even got to see mating loggerhead turtles but no pictures sadly.

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