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Sail on Sail Pending

Follow along as we visit some of the most remote places on this planet!

Cayo Cuervo

Cayo Cuervo

This is a very protected anchorage where the Cuban shrimp boats anchor and process the shrimp. The processing boat travels back and forth to Cienfuegos, while the shrimp boats go out fishing. We spent 4 rainy, windy days here trading Rum for Shrimp and Lobster!!

In Santiago de Cuba we purchased 4 gallons of 15 year old aged Cuban Rum from Pedro who has a cousin who works in the factory. It was delivered to us in big 2 gallon plastic water jugs, so as we used up wine and other glass bottles we recycled them and filled them with the Rum, for trading with the fishermen.

Every trade was a little different. Our first trade was about 5 pounds of cleaned and deveined shrimp for 1 bottle of Rum and another trade was 15 pounds of shrimp with the heads and tails still on and 7 lobsters for 3 bottles or Rum. Every day we traded until all of our freezers were full!! All in all we spent about 7 bottles of Rum in 4 days, but have enough Shrimp and Lobster for weeks worth of meals. The fishermen even gave us some cucumbers, tomatoes and cabbage, since we were getting low on fresh stuff.

We all ate Lobster and Shrimp for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day that we were anchored there. We kept impersonating Bubba, from the movie Forest Gump, over the VHF saying what we ate that day.

On the third day the fishermen invited us into the boat for a tour. They just returned from a night of fishing and proudly showed us their catch. Unfortunately, we learned that the shrimp boats keep EVERYTHING that gets caught in their nets, no matter what it is; even if it is an endangered animals. In the back of the boat was a giant Hawksbill Turtle that was still alive. We asked how many bottles of rum to trade for the turtle because we wanted to release it, but they told us they couldn’t trade Rum for the turtle because the turtle was for the “jefe” or for their boss. So, we asked them how much money did the boss want for the turtle. Everything has a price, right? It took a couple hours of negotiating, but finally the guys negotiated a price and we were able to purchase the turtle.

Laura and Andy estimated that the turtle was between 80 and 90 years old. Today was its lucky day!!! We purchased the turtle brought it to the beach and released it back into the ocean. Hopefully, it lives many more years.

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Cayo Cuervo

Cayo Cuervo

This is a very protected anchorage where the Cuban shrimp boats anchor and process the shrimp. The processing boat travels back and forth to Cienfuegos, while the shrimp boats go out fishing. We spent 4 rainy, windy days here trading Rum for Shrimp and Lobster!!

In Santiago de Cuba we purchased 4 gallons of 15 year old aged Cuban Rum from Pedro who has a cousin who works in the factory. It was delivered to us in big 2 gallon plastic water jugs, so as we used up wine and other glass bottles we recycled them and filled them with the Rum, for trading with the fishermen.

Every trade was a little different. Our first trade was about 5 pounds of cleaned and deveined shrimp for 1 bottle of Rum and another trade was 15 pounds of shrimp with the heads and tails still on and 7 lobsters for 3 bottles or Rum. Every day we traded until all of our freezers were full!! All in all we spent about 7 bottles of Rum in 4 days, but have enough Shrimp and Lobster for weeks worth of meals. The fishermen even gave us some cucumbers, tomatoes and cabbage, since we were getting low on fresh stuff.

We all ate Lobster and Shrimp for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day that we were anchored there. We kept impersonating Bubba, from the movie Forest Gump, over the VHF saying what we ate that day.

On the third day the fishermen invited us into the boat for a tour. They just returned from a night of fishing and proudly showed us their catch. Unfortunately, we learned that the shrimp boats keep EVERYTHING that gets caught in their nets, no matter what it is; even if it is an endangered animals. In the back of the boat was a giant Hawksbill Turtle that was still alive. We asked how many bottles of rum to trade for the turtle because we wanted to release it, but they told us they couldn’t trade Rum for the turtle because the turtle was for the “jefe” or for their boss. So, we asked them how much money did the boss want for the turtle. Everything has a price, right? It took a couple hours of negotiating, but finally the guys negotiated a price and we were able to purchase the turtle.

Laura and Andy estimated that the turtle was between 80 and 90 years old. Today was its lucky day!!! We purchased the turtle brought it to the beach and released it back into the ocean. Hopefully, it lives many more years.

We are in Trinidad, Cuba!

So, I’ve gotten a little behind on the blog and have to catch up….. but, we just arrived in Trinidad, Cuba and this is the first little bit civilization we’ve had in about 2.5 weeks!!! We are completely out of fresh fruits, veggies and BEER!!! I thought we were going to have to send out an SOS for Beer, but we made it through because we had plenty of Rum.

Here’s a pic of our taxi into town today.

17 May, 2017 14:47

Cayo Caballones

This is the largest and most popular anchorage in La Jardines de la Reina. This is where the Liveaboard Dive boats are anchored and close to where the floating hotel is located.

We spent two nights in this anchorage. The first day we arrived pretty late in the afternoon and just did a quick snorkel around our boat. There were giant lobsters just walking under the boat that we could pick up with our bare hands…..Rich was having a very difficult time with this!!! I kept saying Communist Prison and that would help for a few minutes, until he stuck his head back under the water. Then, I would have to say it again.

The next day we all hopped aboard Sandy Feet as they went looking for the sharks that this area is famous for. While Andy was chumming for sharks, Laura was giving us a presentation about sharks and what to look for while swimming with them. One of the most important things was how to tell a happy shark, from a not so happy shark. Within minutes of chumming, a 10′ Silky Shark appeared and soon after that 2 other smaller silky sharks approached. Andy and Laura got in the water first to observe the sharks and make sure they would be calm with others in the water too. We all got a chance to get in the water and swim with the sharks and swam with them for about 2 hours. It’s was pretty amazing and we got a ton of video and drone footage from the day. We can’t wait to share it.

After we all got out of the water Andy fed the sharks a couple cans of Mackerel and they were so calm he was practically hand feeding it to them.

I am so thankful to the crew of Sandy Feet for giving us the opportunity to observe and swim with sharks in their natural environment and for teaching us that sharks are not as aggressive and as dangerous as the media makes them out to be. They are beautiful and curious creatures and an important part of a healthy reef and ocean environment.

Also, If you want to see some amazing photos make sure to follow our amazing friends, from s/v Sandy Feet, @andycorb and @lauracorbe on Instagram.

Cayo Piedra Chiquita

Cayo Piedra Chiquita

From Cayo Granda we sailed about 50 miles Northwest to Cayo Piedra Chiquita. Most of the way we followed a deep, well marked channel, but to get from the marked channel to the anchorage we had to weave through an unmarked shallow area of sandbars and coral heads. We were having a hard time finding our way through with our depth reading “0” many times. We almost gave up but then decided to launch the drone to have a overhead view of the water. It worked!!! We found the unmarked and uncharted channel and carefully made our way into the anchorage.

We were told by another cruiser that crocodiles lived in the mangroves here and we ventured in to find them. Our friends, Andy and Laura from s/v Sandy Feet didn’t just want to see the crocodiles they wanted to get in and swim with them and photograph them. While Andy and Laura were in the water with the croc, the rest of us safely watched from our dinghies and drank rum!!! We finished the evening with a sunset dinghy drift through the mangroves spotting birds and other wildlife.

The water at this anchorage was crystal clear and there was a ton of life under our boat. A huge, spotted eagle ray kept making appearances by jumping completely out of the water between our boats and a couple nurse sharks could be seen resting in the bottom on the way into the anchorage. The snorkeling was amazing!!!

This was our first anchorage in the marine sanctuary part of La Jardines de la Reina and it did not disappoint.

La Jardines de la Reina

La Jardines de la Reina

La Jardines de la Reina, (English; Garden of the Queen) is a group of over 600 Cays and reefs about 50 miles off the Southeastern Coast of Cuba. Christopher Columbus named this area in honor of the Queen of Spain. Sailing this remote archipelago was one of our main reasons for wanting to visit Cuba.

This area is considered one of the words best perserved marine parks for several reasons.

1.) There is not easy access for your normal vacation tourist. There are not ferries running to the area every day because it is located so far off of the coast of Cuba.

2.) There is only 1 floating hotel in the area and from what we were told, the cost to stay at this hotel is over $10,000 a week, per person.

3.) No taking of any species, except for Lionfish, is allowed in the marina park area.

The lack of tourism can clearly be seen because of how healthy the reefs are and the abundance of sea life everywhere!!! The water on the outside of the reef is some of the clearest water we have ever seen. You can clearly see the bottom in water over 60′ deep. In anchorages, 10+ pound lobsters are literally walking around under our boat!!! Anyone who knows Rich knows how difficult this is for him not to take them. I keep reminding him that he does not want to end up in a communist prison.

People can sail here on their own vessels, but surprisingly in over a week, we have seen only one other cruising boat and it was from New Zealand. It’s unbelievable that more people are not sailing here. Yes, the area may be remote and uncharted, and that may keep some people away, but for those who like pure untouched nature, the beauty here is unlike any place else in the Caribbean.

The drone footage we are getting of the area is incredible, we can not wait to share our videos.

Cayo Luna and Cayo Grande

Cays Media Luna and Cayo Grande

When navigating into La Jardines de la Reina you have two options. First option is easy sailing through deep water on the outside of the reef; or the second option of sailing through unsurveyed and uncharted Cays and Reefs in the inside…… Sailing on the outside sounds boring and this is what most people do. We opted to sail through the beautiful uncharted Cayos and Reefs on the inside and we were rewarded for our decision!! It was beautiful sailing with decent winds and calm waters.

Our first stop was Cayo Media Luna. This was a small protected anchorage of mangroves shaped like a crescent moon. We anchored here one night and were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow right at sunset.

The next morning we left at sunrise and had a wonderful sail to Cayo Grande. Cayo Grande is a large mangrove that is totally surrounded by a reef. There is a small channel into a large protected bay where you can anchor in 10 feet of water. There is an uncharted ship wreck just off the middle shoreline that you should watch out for, but a small portion is above the waterline so it is easy to see in low light. We took our dinghies to the North side of the mangroves where there is a wide open beach with decent snorkeling. There were several small stingrays hiding in the sand and nice shells were washed up on the beach. Large Conch were everywhere!!! Krista and I made conch salad and grilled conch for dinner and everyone ate on Sail Pending.

These two islands are outside of the marine park but are absolutely stunning anchorages. We sailed for 2 days and have not seen another boat and had both anchorages completely to ourselves. These are some of the most beautiful anchorages we have visited in the past 19 months of sailing and we are shocked that there are no other boats around. If this is a taste of what’s to come, we can not wait to get into La Jardines de la Reina!!!

Cabo Cruz

Cabo Cruz

Cabo Cruz was a two night stop on our way to La Jarden de la Reina. We anchored behind a large protective reef.

There was not much to this small fishing village except a lighthouse and a military base.

We were greeted by the Guarda as soon as we set our anchored. They were friendly and courteous. They removed their shoes before coming aboard, asked the exact same questions as the previous stops and did not request any bribes or tips.

Our first morning, we explored the mangroves and the Sandy Feet crew taught us about the Cassiopeia Jellyfish, which were everywhere on the bottom of the mangroves.

The next day we headed North and anchored at Cayo Luna, which is a small Cay just outside of La Jardines de la Reina, which means Garden of the Queen.

Sun High Overhead

The days are getting longer and the middle of the day is brutally hot, when the sun is out.

It’s neat to watch for the time of the day when there are no shadows….. like right now.

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