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Cayo Macho de Fuera

Cayo Macho de Fuera
aka Cayo Iguana (by the locals)

Today was an easy sailing day. We only had to sail about 18 miles Northeast to the anchorage by the small island of Cayo Macho de Fuera. On Garmin Blue charts this anchorage only looks like marsh land, but there is a note added by a cruiser that says, “there is a small beach bar.” ….. and, we ran out of beer on board three days ago, so the search for beer is on the top of our list of needs.

As we approached the anchorage we saw what looked to be a small tiki hut, a white Sandy beach lined with beach chairs and one person walking around. This looked promising, and I could almost taste a cold beer!!!

We flew the drone to get a birds eye view and then dropped the dingy and headed in. A nice man greeted us on the beach and explained, that there is a beach bar but it is only open when a party boat from the mainland comes to the island. The day boat brings all the beer and food, so there is not any beer or food on the island right now. Bummer!!!

But, what we did find was pretty sweet. We found a wide, white sand beach lined with empty beach chairs, walking paths, a ton of huge iguanas, and rodent like creatures who would eat cucumbers out of the kids hands.

The three boats met and had happy hour on the beach and the kids gathered hermit crabs for each of us. We had hermit crab races on the beach and watched the sunset from the empty lawn chairs. It was another wonderful day in paradise!!!

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Leaving La Jardines de la Reina

Cayo Cinco Balas and Cayo Zaza

These two Cayo’s were short one night stops as we make our way out of La Jardine’s de la Reina and back to the main land of Cuba.

Cayo Cinco Balas was a calm protected anchorage completely surrounded by Mangroves with a small beach on the outside facing the reef. The beach was pretty creepy. All the vegetation was dead, there were animal bones and the only sign of any life were huge iguana tracks. We took a short walk and then left. There really was not much here, so we only stayed for one night.

The next day we sailed 30 miles on the outside of the reef to Cayo Zaza. Fishing was good!! We caught a nice Yellow Fin Tuna and had sashimi for dinner. We played in the mangroves and had a nice relaxing evening on board.

As we are leaving La Jardine’s de la Reina we look back and are amazing at the amount of marine life we have seen here verses other areas of the Caribbean. We are also shocked that we were the only cruiser boats around and that for 3 weeks we barely saw any other people except for the few local fishermen.

Unfortunately, the snorkeling was not as good as we hoped because the clear water was on the outside of the reefs where the water was deep. Also, where we did snorkel we saw a lot of Lionfish, which are a huge threat to the reefs on this side of the world. Conch and lobster were plentiful.

After sailing around other islands and witnessing the pollution and damage generated by tourism and human population it is a pleasant surprise to explore this small part of the Caribbean that has remained untouched and preserved. Aside from a few ship wrecks, La Jardines de la Reina is pretty much the exact same today as it was when Columbus sailed through it 600+ years ago.

Leaving La Jardines de la Reina

Cayo Cinco Balas and Cayo Zaza

These two Cayo’s were short one night stops as we make our way out of La Jardine’s de la Reina and back to the main land of Cuba.

Cayo Cinco Balas was a calm protected anchorage completely surrounded by Mangroves with a small beach on the outside facing the reef. The beach was pretty creepy. All the vegetation was dead, there were animal bones and the only sign of any life were huge iguana tracks. We took a short walk and then left. There really was not much here, so we only stayed for one night.

The next day we sailed 30 miles on the outside of the reef to Cayo Zaza. Fishing was good!! We caught a nice Yellow Fin Tuna and had sashimi for dinner. We played in the mangroves and had a nice relaxing evening on board.

As we are leaving La Jardine’s de la Reina we look back and are amazing at the amount of marine life we have seen here verses other areas of the Caribbean. We are also shocked that we were the only cruiser boats around and that for 3 weeks we barely saw any other people except for the few local fishermen.

Unfortunately, the snorkeling was not as good as we hoped because the clear water was on the outside of the reefs where the water was deep. Also, where we did snorkel we saw a lot of Lionfish, which are a huge threat to the reefs on this side of the world. Conch and lobster were plentiful.

After sailing around other islands and witnessing the pollution generated by tourism and human population it is a pleasant surprise to explore this small part of the Caribbean that has remained untouched and preserved. Aside from a few ship wrecks, La Jardines de la Reina is pretty much the exact same today as it was when Columbus sailed through it 600+ years ago.

Leaving La Jardines de la Reina

Cayo Cinco Balas and Cayo Zaza

These two Cayo’s were short one night stops as we make our way out of La Jardine’s de la Reina and back to the main land of Cuba.

Cayo Cinco Balas was a calm protected anchorage completely surrounded by Mangroves with a small beach on the outside facing the reef. The beach was pretty creepy. All the vegetation was dead, there were animal bones and the only sign of any life were huge iguana tracks. We took a short walk and then left. There really was not much here, so we only stayed for one night.

The next day we sailed 30 miles on the outside of the reef to Cayo Zaza. Fishing was good!! We caught a nice Yellow Fin Tuna and had sashimi for dinner. We played in the mangroves and had a nice relaxing evening on board.

As we are leaving La Jardine’s de la Reina we look back and are amazing at the amount of marine life we have seen here verses other areas of the Caribbean. We are also shocked that we were the only cruiser boats around and that for 3 weeks we barely saw any other people except for the few local fishermen.

Unfortunately, the snorkeling was not as good as we hoped because the clear water was on the outside of the reefs where the water was deep. Also, where we did snorkel we saw a lot of Lionfish, which are a huge threat to the reefs on this side of the world. Conch and lobster were plentiful.

After sailing around other islands and witnessing the pollution generated by tourism and human population it is a pleasant surprise to explore this small part of the Caribbean that is so untouched and preserved. Aside from a few ship wrecks, La Jardines de la Reina is pretty much the exact same today as it was when Columbus sailed through it 600+ years ago.

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.

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.

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