May 3, 2009.
We’ve been sitting here in Vero Beach for a few days. We’ve taken advantage of the bus system to do a little food and clothes shopping.
On Friday I went for the ride to Fort Lauderdale with Jay and Greg from Far Niente and My Destiny. Jay’s wind generator had died just before they departed for the Bahamas and there hadn’t been time to deal with it beforehand. Now that they’re back in the states he had dropped it off at an approved repair facility down in Lauderdale.
It’s about an 85 mile drive to Fort Lauderdale but I also had a reason for wanting to go. Blue Water Books is the largest retailer of nautical publications in the country. Since my buddy Barrack is going to do his best to allow me to visit Cuba I thought that perhaps we should get a few charts before the rush.
Picking up Jays newly repaired wind generator was easy and went quickly. Best of all that it was free, they honored the 3 year warrantee. After that we headed over to Blue Water Books. I was a little disappointed at first when I realized that the most relevant cruising guide to Cuba had been written by Nigel Calder almost 10 years ago. That part was a little disappointing. The big disappointment was when I looked at the price and the thing was 70 freaking dollars. Considering that there’s probably been 2 dozen major hurricanes since it was written most of the crap has probably been blown away. I figured I could get it used on the internet through Amazon for a lot less, so I took a pass on the cruising guide.
Things went just a bit better when I got to the charts themselves. Cuba has about 2000 miles of coastline. As a result the coastline has been divided up into a series of 7 chart books. A single chartbook was 80 dollars. Similar chartbooks dealing with the US or Bahamas run between 50 and 60 dollars and are extremely detailed. These charts of Cuba could best be described as “a little vague”.
These chartbooks are also fairly rare so Blue Water Books has been selling full sized photo copies of the book. The good part is that the black and white copies are 50 bucks apiece. I can always get Christy some colored pencils and have her color in the land to make it easier to avoid.
So I got 2 of the chartbooks that deal with the section of the north shore of Cuba as that would probably be the extent of our first foray into the country. I also picked up a single chart that covers the entire Cay Sal Bank and another single page that shows the entire country of Cuba.
The single page of Cuba will be good for planning as it puts everything into perspective with the chartbooks providing somewhat more detail. The chart of the Cay Sal Bank will enable us to do some “dream cruising” as if all the cruising we’ve done hasn’t been already dream cruising.
The Cay Sal Bank is actually a part of the Bahamas. The lobsters there are plentiful. So once checked into the Bahamas you are able to do all the spearfishing you want. The Cay Sal Bank is right under our nose but still way off the beaten path. It’s located in the triangle between Florida, Andros in the Bahamas and the north shore of Cuba. There’s no settlement or people living there so there is no place to check into the country on the Cay Sal Bank. So “technically” the easiest thing to do would be to check into the Bahamas in Bimini and then head south for 120 miles along the edge of the Gulf Stream. Shallows to the east and the northward bound Gulf Stream to the west makes this route less than an attractive option. We wouldn’t take the chance of stopping there without being checked in but we are considering a more “creative” route.
So, we now have the charts for Cuba and the Cay Sal. This adds a whole new option for this falls cruising season. In the meantime we’ll just have to wait and see what happens on the world stage.
Far Niente is on the hard in a local yard for hurricane season. The boat has been blocked up and tied down to huge cement blocks to keep it from blowing over if a storm strikes the area.
It’s the only yard I’ve ever been in where chaining the stands together wasn’t routine procedure. Most of the boat owners are aware of this shortcoming and lash the stands together themselves. I can’t believe this place operates this way. Heck, they don't even tie your boat down unless you specifically arrange for it.
Oh, and the joke is on me. When I checked the price of the used cruising guide on Amazon they were even more expensive then the brand new ones at Blue Water Books.