We let Grant know the weather and told him we would be continuing east before the easterly winds set in for a few days. We would be retracing our steps going west again so didn’t need to explore ashore that time. On our way out to Rose Cut, we dropped the anchor near the first red buoy to snorkel the reef for an hour before continuing out in the very wide and well-marked channel, seeing only 3.6 metres least depth of water. Then in the calm seas we had to motor east another 24 miles to Cayo Largo, a port of entry into Cuba. Too many hours on the engine lately! We passed loads of pretty cays and coral reefs to visit in settled weather.
The entrance into Cayo Largo is between a set of cays with the Los Ballenatos lighthouse on to the west and is marked by red and green buoys, red to starboard. Then we proceeded toward the channel into the marina, again well marked but didn’t need to go into the dock as we were already cleared into Cuba and just took the dinghy in with our papers once we had anchored. Once we left the channel, the water shallowed until we were seeing just 0.4 under us, 2.5 metres in total. We managed to find a space big enough to swing right around in the coming higher easterly winds but only had 0.7 under us.
It was the first time in well over 2 weeks that we had seen more than 5 people at once and more than 6 boats! Ashore was a quaint resort of hotels, souvenir shops, a museum, bank, dive shop, Guarda Frontera office for clearing in and an airport. The hotels are all-inclusive but there is one independent bar/restaurant where cruisers can purchase food and drink. The marina is small but had plenty of empty slips in 4 metres of water, a rubbish dump and non-potable water. There isn’t a laundry but it can be sent out. Diesel can be bought at the tourist/marina office and the voucher taken to the fuel dock later. The whole area is just a resort and we didn’t find a proper supermarket as all the staff are on the island to work at the hotels, presumably getting their food included. A ‘Ship’s Chandler’ had lots of rum, eggs and catering size tins of some products. The few tomatoes had seen better days but the huge loaves of white bread were tasty enough for 3 CUC/$.
There is a dive centre, busy with holidaymakers going out to the reefs, a souvenir shop, buses between hotels and a passenger road train to tour around in. We haven’t yet visited the museum, bowling alley nor the turtle farm but are having a buffet meal tonight at the Marina Hotel, which is open to non-residents. We got our WiFi voucher there as well, an hour for 2 CUC.
Jeff and Di spent a couple of nights in the marina, then joined us in the anchorage for the view and breeze. We played dominoes, BBQ’d more of our frozen food and Rob and I had a romantic sunset walk on one of the many nearby white sand beaches, watching the conch dragging themselves along in the shallows.
‘Epona’ arrived 4 days after us, so we got the chance to say farewell to Olaf who was flying to Havana. We too hope to get to the capital city by plane; having decided it is safer to leave the boat in the marina, rather than at anchor in Cienfuegos. I would just spend the time worrying about her. If you are not aboard, the marina price drops by over half. Pire, the very helpful marina manager, can arrange a last minute seat on the hotel charter planes if there is space, so we are currently waiting to see if we can go tomorrow or within a few days. Our time is getting increasingly constrained by needing to fly home from Washington on May 9th and we have a long way to sail before reaching the Chesapeake Bay, so it makes sense to go west again from here and only sail on to Cienfuegos if we have time and a good weather window next week.