We had a lovely sail to Porto Bello, a beautiful bay surrounded by green hills and old Forts, and we anchored below the Fort. Following day we climbed up the hill to the Fort, and then continued on a path through thick bush, to the top where we had lovely views to the town and across the bay.
On Sunday 7th we had to leave for Isla Linton as we had made plans to meet up with our friends Colleen and John on ‘Bow Bells’ in Isla Linton. We had 15-20knot N.East winds and big swells, we just weren’t going anywhere fast and took 3 hours to get there. A family of 3 Spider monkey’s live in the dilapidated house, so we went close to the dock and gave them bananas.
We all went by dinghy to Isla Grande to buy some fresh produce. We also went to the private property across the bay, where the owner has some injured wild animals in cages, and he looks after them and feeds them. We decided to walk to Panamarina, about 12 miles, up and down hills to the marina, where many yachts leave their boats whilst they fly home.
We went to the restaurant for lunch and a rest, then we walked back, and about ¾ of the way back a truck stopped and gave us a lift back to the main road. We went to the shop and bought delicious ice creams.
On the 12th we left for Porto Bello, did the same walks up to the fort with Colleen & John. Had a wonderful time with them, and they left to go through the canal. Paul & Vivian came for a barbeque, and Paul played the Sax for us.
We spent a month in Porto Bello, walked up the hill every other day, went to town and visited the other Fort on the town side of the bay. Also took the bus to the Cheese Restaurant and walked up the hill, past a church, to private farm land, and the owner gave us permission to walk on his property, and had lovely views from there. We sometimes took the bus to Colon to buy groceries and returned in the late afternoon.
Day Hike into the hills.
We walked up to the Port Bello Dam
On the 25th, Karen & Odd arrived on ‘Capella’, was lovely to see them again. We all went ashore, as there was a ‘Congo’ band playing at the Museum. There were many yachts anchored here and we all got together for Happy Hour up at the Fort. On Sat. 24th Feb. a 20knot North East wind was blowing, and we left with “Capella’ for Providencia. This island is off Nicaragua, but belongs to Columbia. Mr Bush, the port captain came on board, to check us in.
We all went ashore to explore this island, hired a taxi for a day trip, a lovely island with very friendly people. We went ashore to meet Gloria & Rob, who organised a ride to the other side of the island for the start of a hike up to the highest peak, 2,500ft. Lovely forest, but the path was very rocky and slippery, about a 12km walk with beautiful views from the top.
Walk across the bridge ‘ views to anchorage
View across bay to hill.
On the 4th March, we set sail for the Cayman Islands and had lousy weather, also a loose engine mounting. We arrived late on Saturday, so had to pay $75 overtime & they told us where to go and anchor. Not allowed to anchor near the reefs.
On the 12th, ‘Capella’ arrived and we went ashore to check out all the tourist shops. The anchorage was a bit rolly due to all the activity from the cruise ships and wind. We enjoyed swimming and snorkeling off the boat.
The anchorage – Cruise Ships
On March 18th, Dave went ashore to collect our spear-guns, and we set sail for Cuba, 140 miles and had wonderful sailing conditions.
We went alongside at the Cayo Largo marina and had a couple of officials come on board, filled in the forms, then the doctor, 2 other guys came on board and checked for fresh foods, then customs came on board and searched the boat, and cost $90. A cold front was going through from the States, so we decided to wait it out and Dave tightened the engine mounting. We walked to the airport, had lunch at the restaurant, chicken & chips.
Great to be in CUBA!!!
We stayed for a week, and had to give a days notice to check-out, and once again all the officals came on board and searched the boat. We left with ‘Capella’ and motored to Isla De Rosario 20 miles, and anchored off a reef. Fisherman came to us with 4 crayfish tails for a $1 & they wanted some rum. Beautiful beaches and reefs with abundant sea life and crystal clear water. Dave trawled and caught a big Nassau Grouper, so had Karen & Odd for supper again.
On 26th, we motor sailed 25 miles to Cayo Campos, pass some reefs and anchor in 2,5mtr, with grass bottom, off a lovely beach. Dave trawled again and caught a big grunter. We ate so much fish and crayfish. Stayed 2 days then sailed to the next anchorage to Cabo Frances, 50 miles, a beautiful sandy bay and anchored for the night as one is not allowed ashore here.
The following day we decided to sail overnight to Maria La Gorda, where we picked up a mooring, no anchoring aloud. Authorities came along side, filled in forms again and paid $5 for the mooring per day. We went ashore to try and buy some groceries and first went to buy beers, then to the next building for chicken and beef, eggs, etc. and they gave us a garbage bag to put everything into. We then went to the next building to buy bread and margarine which was already melting. We enjoyed snorkeling on the reefs and going for walks on the long beaches. We had to go and check out again and the officials came on board to check and search the boat.
On 2nd April we sailed to the west end of the island, round Cabo San Antonio and went to Cayo Lena for the night, then to Cayo Beunavista, 40 miles. Very shallow waters, sand and grass bottom, mangroves and mosquitos. We stayed 2 days then motor sailed to Cayo Jutias, 38 miles and went ashore and walked to the hotel. The winds seemed to increase in the afternoons, so after a few days we motor sailed 30 miles to Cayo Levisa and anchored off a mangrove bay. We stayed a few days and left in a light east wind, but by the afternoon was blowing 15-20 knots again and big swells and motor sailed over night and arrived at Hemmingway Marina the following morning and went alongside the officials dock. First officials came on board, filled in forms again, then next 2 guys with a dog on board, and checked all cabins, and the following 2 officials searched the lockers etc. Eventually we left that dock and went alongside in the marina.
We spent a month in Havana, exploring the city, going to different areas, the markets, museums, different restaurants and just enjoyed this city very much. Met 2 very nice young locals and they invited us to their apartment.
Karen & I also went to Havana, leaving the guys to do boat work!!! We walked to the Presidential Palace, The Museum of the Revolution dates back from 1920 – the early 1960’s.
In the Central Park area, we walked to the Gran Teatro, hotel Inglaterra, The Chinese Quarter and the National Capitol. The Capitol was inaugurated in 1929 and since 1960 has been the headquarters of the Academy of Sciences. Cuba was the first country in Latin America to have a railway, started in1837.
National Capital Building -
The South African Embassy
We visited the Church of Santa Paula, Plaza Vieja, Palace of the Captains General, The Havana Cathedral and the Market.
Karen – Coffee shop
View to Havana From Marina Hotel!!
Had to go alongside customs dock, fill in forms again took ½ hour to check out and motor out over reefs. We enjoyed our stay in Cuba very much.
We set sail for St Petersburg and had some good sailing weather. Went on a reach for the last 20 miles to the entrance and called the coast guard as to where we could anchor – reply was ‘anywhere’. We had to maneuver through some crab pots, and went to anchor near the interstate bridge. The following day we went alongside at the transient dock in the municipal marina. We had to go to the Clearwater airport to do immigration.
One night we went to an amazing street party. We met Sharon, a South African now living in St Petersburg and we went with her to the S.A braai in Secret Harbour, Tampa. About 150 South Africans attended this barbeque, quite surprising and an enjoyable day. After staying in the marina for a week, we went round to the anchorage, near the town pier. Since leaving Cuba the weather was rather cold and by mid May the weather improved, light winds and warmer days. There was always something going on here, a Jaz festival in the park, Jet-Ski races and the weekend before we left they had a list of groups performing in the park again, Nellie Fertado etc. Wonderful to hear all this music on the boat, and the anchorage was very crowded with local boats. We stayed 6 weeks in St Petersburg.
On 31st May, we went to the municipal dock for fuel and filled the water tanks and motored 20 miles to Egmont Cay, for a few days. We sailed with full main and genoa to Fort Myers, 30 miles, and anchored off a small cay and after a couple of days we sailed to Key West, a lovely little town, very busy and very touristy.
After a few days in Key West we just made overnight stops at Marathon, Key Largo, and Elliot Key. We sailed inside the coral reef, where the sea was calmer than on the outside. Then the last 9 miles to Coconut Grove anchorage where we stayed for a few days and then went across to Biscayne Key. We sailed to Palm Beach and stayed a month and had some wild weather go through that anchorage. We met a South African, Mark who was now living in Ft Lauderdale and suggested we go there, so we sailed to Ft Lauderdale and motored up the New River to the I-95, where Mark had found a private berth for us. We had the use of the garden and pool which was wonderful.
We went to the RiverPark Shopping centre -
We had many barbeques with Mark and Janice, Linda and Neal, Liz & Pete, and also did some day trips with Linda and Neal, in the Fort Lauderdale area and Miami. I went cycling with Linda and shopping at all the different shopping malls. It was great being on the New River at Christmas Time, with all the boats passing by with Christmas lights and waving at the people as the River Queen went by. We also met up again with Barbara and Stuart on Walkabout, they were in the town marina, and we went to the beach with them.