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Cuba day 3 and bits of forgotten days 1-2

Well, we had a lovely if, at times, hot day yesterday sailing to Chivirico which has a challenging entrance with leading marks to take one past coral reefs and rocks on the way in. We have 3 sets of cruising guides, the most up to date being an American publication. There is also one written by Nigel Calder in the mid 90’s and he has very helpful comments and drawings. Marks are very difficult to pick out but he suggests using a helpfully placed  palm tree. Now as it’s nearly 30 years since this was written and numerous hurricanes have beaten the shore since then, not to mention the fact that the whole island is covered with both palm and bushy topped trees we weren’t too sure about this as a helpful comment for 2024. The modern American guide has copy and pasted the whole instructions from Nigel’s work. There is also reference to an old concrete pier which now appears to be a beach bar. Minimum depths were quite close to our limits. In any event we  came in carefully, with a lot of discussion as to the whereabouts of the front leading mark, a lot of bearings being taken and, most helpfully, Colin at the first spreader up the mast looking down and seeing, beautifully clearly, the shallow spots.

We came in and anchored in about 3.5 m of water in a lovely peaceful lagoon tucked away behind coral reefs, surrounded by trees and mangroves. We weren’t sure if we were allowed to go ashore here, Lionel had said no but the cruising guides had thought it would be fine. However we were feeling like an evening on the boat and spent the remainder of the afternoon (we’d anchored at about half past 3) fishing, swimming whilst delivering pencils, rubbers and sharpeners to a pair of children fishing off an old concrete construction 50 m from the boat.

Having arrived, a fishing boat set a net across the entrance which we’re hoping won’t be there when we come to leave. There were also children standing up to their waists in the water, seemingly in the channel but, luckily, not actually but it was disconcerting at times. A boat came from the beach bar, keen for our custom but we had decided to eat aboard. 

The freezer had been hard - no impossible, to get into, the door doesn’t quite seal so it frosts up around the lid and we had to turn it off for a few hours to get into it and to chip some ice away from the appropriate bits. Ive now turned it up to minus 7 degrees in the hope that it’ll be easier to get into. I’ll have to get a better seal for it.  I cooked my Moroccan chicken dish and, remarkably, remembered all of the ingredients this time which leads to a tastier outcome. I had found another packet of almonds which was a bonus because the previous packet ran out. Colin spent some of the day fishing and getting burned by the sun, the fishing being less successful than one might have hoped for, particularly as all the locals seemed to be reeling them in like mackerel.

The French couple never reappeared having headed off to the Southish when we were going more Westish. Presumably they have changed their plans a little. I’d be surprised should we not run into them again at some point.

Colin and I had opted to try a cigar during the dancing on the second night, partly for the experience  and not deliberately but it was a very good excuse to not dance! I’d not tried a cigar before and, as you’ll mostly know, am not a smoker.  We borrowed a light from neighbouring table, an impressive lighter - creme brulee style, and lit up. It was surprising on a number of counts. Very mild,  not really unpleasant at all, a lot of hard work to stop it going out, one had to really work at puffing away at it or it seemed to fade to a miniscule glow which took a lot of puffing to get going again. In any event a surprisingly not unpleasant experience and no real smoky after effects, I suppose it’s a really natural product in comparison to cigarettes. In any event I’ve asked everyone to not let me try another one in case I start to enjoy them! The chap from whom we’d borrowed the lighter told us he was a fisherman and had a problem that we could maybe help him with. He had a breakdown with his engine on the fishing boat and needed euros to buy parts so he wanted to sell us some pesos. We knew that the dollar exchange rate was about 290.0 to the peso so when he wanted me to say how many pesos to the euro I said I’d be happy at about 300. He said he’d speak to his uncle who was helping him fund it but then disappeared.  I had had a few beers but had asked him what kind of engine it was and he couldn’t tell me  and in the cold light of day this is a bit suspicious, anyway we now think he was just trying to fleece naive foreigners of money.

Anyway time to get on with today so I’ll sign off now and try to send this, apologies for the tardiness yesterday.

Jock and all.

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