The Cuban Odessey
2004 – 2005

Captain Kurt and crew sailed to Cuba for the winter of 2004-2005. Here are the updates they sent while on the trip.

Halifax, Monday Oct. 26, 2004

48 hrs to sail from Charlottetown to Halifax, Great following winds, 15-25 knots. We are set up at Armdale Yacht Club in Halifax, very well protected, showers, BAR,and a small electric heater on SAGA.

Forecast says possible weather window this Thursday or Friday but won't know till time comes. The Armdale Bar has a jam on Friday nights so we brought our drum, mandolin and guitar over for a Saga Rum Shack Night. We are thinking Friday nights on Saga could become a regular Rum Shack in Cuba!

Bermuda, Thursday Nov. 2, 2004

Arrive Bermuda, lot's of windy weather on trip.

Bermuda, Thursday Nov. 9, 2004

Hi Pete and Laura, Well we've been here for a week and its starting to feel cold here. We are leaving Bermuda today bound for the Turks and Caicos Islands, about a 6 day sail. We are on our way to Cuba and will probably just stay a couple of days.

And then there were 2!!!! Dave has left Saga and is flying home in a couple of weeks. Ralph is learning fast and the two of us should not have any problems. Hope all is well with you all in PEI and Rum Shack is in full swing! Will talk to you from next stop. Kurt and Ralph

Cuba, Saturday Feb. 19, 2005

Hi Pete and Laura, I was showing someone my website and saw for the first time the stuff you put up there about my trip to Cuba. Thanks for going to all the trouble.

After Santigo, we sailed to Marea del Portillo, a small harbour with a tiny town. The people were very friendly and it was cheap to anchor there. We spent Xmas and New Years and my birthday there and roasted pigs and other livestock... mmmmmmm good!

The Guarda Frontera or Customs were ok at first but after the second week they started to give us a hard time, where we could go, one person on the boat at all times etc. We just basically told them to F off after a while but they finally brought the boss from HQ and they said I had to go to some city 100km away and pay a $3000 fine so I said I had to call the Canadian Embassy in Havana. They said wait a minute and after 2 hrs. said they were only going to warn me this time so don't do it again. So I had to swim ashore at night a couple of times and back again. The locals kept kidding me about the sharks, at least I think they were kidding.

This place also had 2 hotels with mostly Canadians staying there. Ralph and I went there for a beer the first day. It was all inclusive so we just bought a beer in the store. A waiter asked us if we wanted to stay and eat supper and drink all we could for $7 ea. so he gave us some braclets he had nicked . We used them for 3 wks. eating and drinking our faces off until they finally caught us at lunch but only made us pay $12 for lunch.

We left there after 4 wks in the company of a french Canadian sailboat and a German one. We sailed to the small uninhabited islands off the coast where we ate lobster and fish for 2 wks. until we were sick of it. Now we are in Trinidad, a UNESCO recognized city for its beautiful 18th and 19th century architecture. Lots of young backpackers here from all over the world, except US of course. Next we plan on going to the larger city of Cienfuegos then to the small islands around Cayo Largo where it is famous for its clear water and great fishing.

Well till next time see you again, Kurt

Cuba, Sunday April 17, 2005

Update, since my last email, we have moved along the south coast of Cuba. From Marea de Portillo, Saga sailed in the company of a French Canadian and a German sailboat.

We stopped along a string of islands surrouned by turquoise water teeming with lobster and and fish. These small islands are mostly uninhabited and we spent most evenings cooking meals on each others boat and drinking Rums at sundown...never before!!!

Next we stopped in the city of Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its historic buildings. It has alot of live music in many bars. There I spent the night in a local jail after a misunderstanding with the police.

Cienfuegos, 50 miles west was next, and one of the best cities I´ve been to so far in Cuba.Great people, cheap prices for restaurants, rum etc. After 4 weeks we sailed to Cayo Largo, 50 miles S.W., where we met up with my brother Pat, who flew in from Canada. Great beaches and beautiful water. We divided our time between hiking the beaches, swimming, drinks at the Marina bar and pigging out at the hotel buffet...real meat, bread and all the things its hard to get.

After Pat left, we sailed to Cayo Rosario where we invited 3 Cuban fishermen aboard. One played Ralphs guitar and they all sang Cuban songs, I played drums and we all drank lots of rum.

We are now in Isla de la Juventud, or Isle of Youth, where we are tied up at a dock up narrow river in the capital city of Nuevo Gerona, pop. 15,000. The people are friendly here, and every night the main street is filled with people talking, drinking and dancing.

Next stop is the mainland at Maria la Gorda, Fat Maria, as we gradually make our way towards the extreme west end of Cuba, then turn NE towards Havana where we will spend a few weeks.

Cuba, Saturday May 21, 2005

Hi Pete and Laura, Looks like a catagory one Hurricane is developing, passing through Nicaraugua and heading in the general direction of Cuba. Thats early as they don't usually get going till later in the summer. SAGA is sitting safely at the Marina Hemmingway near Havana which is well protected from anything but a full blown Hurricane.

Things are going well, although a problem with the diesel on SAGA took three days and many minds to work out. A Mechanical Engineer from Canada who worked for Peugeot here finally helped us figure it out. A few more jobs to do and we will be ready to leave here heading for Canada directly or Florida or the Bahamas first then to Canada.

The engineer who helped with the engine originally came by the boat to see if we needed an extra hand sailing home and so it appears Doug will sail with us. It will make it much easier, with shorter shifts. We also need a new belt for the Autohelm and cant get it here which means while motoring we will have to hand steer.....NO!!!!!!

Tentative departure date is May 27. If we stop in FLA or Bahamas, which will take 2 days, we hope to leave there for Canada around June 1, 2 or 3 but that is all dependant on suitable weather.

This may be the last message till we're back in our home port. Cuba has been great and I definitely will return soon!

See ya, Kurt

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia , Wednesday June 15, 2005

Hi Pete and Laura, Just a note to say we arrived in Lunenburg, NS on the 13 June after a 11 day sail from West Palm Beach. Very light winds except of course the last 8 hours where we had to beat into 20 knot winds and very cold winds!!! Sagas engine failed 3 days after leaving port so the light winds meant we had to fly the Gennaker, our light air sail for 6 days straight, without it we would have taken many days longer.

Our engine is fixed and now we are waiting for the wind to settle down then head for home!

See you in a few days, Kurt