Jaimanitas, Cuba

Marina Hemingway is located right next to the town of Jaimanitas.  The best part of this, as far as we were concerned, is that this is a normal Cuban neighborhood that does not cater to tourists.  Once we walked off the marina grounds, we felt like we were in the “real” Cuba.

The busy main road through town is lined with bus stops and a variety of shops.

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The main drag through town.

There are two panaderias where one buys bread, rolls, and crackers.

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This was my favorite bread store.  A bag of six fluffy yeast rolls (kind of like hamburger buns) was 1 CUC ($1.13 USD).  She also had cookies, crackers, and baguettes.

A large ration store offers flour, sugar, dried beans, and other subsidized foodstuffs.

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Foods sold in the rational stores are subsidized for Cubans, and the prices are in moneda nacional.  If there is extra of an item, then those without a ration card ask to buy some of it.

There is a small snack shop that sells canned drinks and the ubiquitous Cuban pizza, which we have dubbed Cuba’s national food.

(A note about Cuban pizza:  Every restaurant has a large menu, and virtually nothing on it is available.   The server points out what two or three dishes can be purchased that day, and that always includes pizza.  Snack shops sell pizzas instead of sandwiches, and the pizzas are frequently eaten rolled like a soft taco.  The crust is a soft cornmeal, and the cheese tastes like Gouda or another mild cheese.  Snack shop sandwiches are generally a roll with ham and cheese, and we didn’t see those offered many places.)

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This is another ration store that was down the street.  It always had a line.

Cruisers familiar with the area took us under their wing and brought us along to the Saturday farmer’s market, which was deep inside the neighborhood streets.  There was a cadeca (currency exchange bureau) onsite as well as a hair salon.  The market was packed with vendors selling vegetables including yucca, onions, tomatoes, peppers, bok choy, green cabbage, beets, green leaf lettuce, eggplants, garlic, and broccoli (apparently for the first time).

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Bringing your own plastic bags was a must as the common wisdom is leaving the dirt on the vegetables keeps them fresher longer.  The market was loud and exciting with throngs of people milling around.

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The meat vendor was very busy and had a long line.  To buy meat, the buyer points to what they want.  The butcher brings it down from the hook in the ceiling and places it in front of the buyer, who shows how much they want by gesturing on the meat itself.  The butcher places his machete on the “cut” line and pounds the machete with a pipe to cut through the flesh and bone.  The butcher then hands over the meat, and you better have a bag to put it in.  The Captain bought a couple of pounds of smoked bone-in pork loin (i.e. pork chops) for $90 moneda nacional, or less than $4 USD.

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The butcher was a real ham (ha ha ha, see what I did there?). 

(Another note, this time about lines.  Frequently there is just a gaggle of people in front of a counter, and you don’t know where to stand or who is next.  When you call out “Ultimo,” whoever is last will raise their hand.  You are after that person.  Now you just listen for anyone else calling out “Ultimo” and raise your hand.  It’s remarkably efficient.)

Some housewares and clothing were also for sale, as well as juices and churros.  I tried fresh tamarind juice for the first time and am in love.  The streets were full of horse-drawn carts, motorbikes, street dogs, and running children.  It was a marvelous experience, and I ended up with some great vegetables.

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My new obsession:  churros.  Pulped yucca is put into the pot, and when the handle is spun, a thin stream comes out the spout and into the boiling oil.  Once crispy, the churros are removed and cut into french fry-like pieces with scissors.  Douse liberally with sugar and put in a paper cone.  $3 moneda nacional later (about $0.15 USD), and I’m in heaven.

The same cruisers showed us what turned out to be our favorite restaurant in Cuba, El Callejon.  There is no way we could have ever found it ourselves.  It is located on a road that is off of the main road, up an alley between houses; the landmark to look for is—and I’m not joking here—the last telephone pole on the left of the street.

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Step one:  Go down the main road and turn onto this residential street.  Walk for a while.  Look for the last telephone pole on the left.

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Step two:  go up this alley.  This is from the restaurant looking down to the street.  Try not to antagonize the dachshund barking from the second floor balcony.

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Step three:  arrival! Go up to the menu board and order at the counter (where the gentleman in blue is).  Wait for your foot and enjoy!

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The menu board.  Prices are in moneda nacional.

The restaurant is essentially a man’s back patio, and the food is fantastic.  The menu board lists what is available that day, and you can choose from a la carte items or meal plates.  Each time we went we had two meal plates, a beer, and a soda for $100 moneda nacional—or $4 USD total.  The Captain usually had a pork dish (that came with beans and rice, boiled plaintains, and a small portion of vinegary slaw), and I had the huevos fritos (fried eggs) that came with the same sides.  Divine.  A steady stream of people came in for take out, which meant handing over their old plastic container which was then filled with food.

Jaimanitas is known for a neighborhood called Fusterlandia.  I will write about that in a separate post.

Posted in Cuba

Varadero to Marina Hemingway, Cuba

When we departed Cayo Blanco, we had to check out with the Guarda Frontiera in Varadero and obtain our cruising permit (Permiso Especial de Navegación Para Embarcaciones de Recreo Extranjeras).  The cruising permit is different from the Despacho; it is presented to Customs officials at entry at and departure from each Cuban port and lists the entry port, entry date and time, prior port, and number of crew.  Presumably in this way a boat’s—and crew’s—progress can be tracked.  Checking out at Varadero took very little time, and the Customs officials were just as friendly and helpful as when we initially checked in.

We headed offshore from Varadero at about 4 PM; we wanted to exit the channel in daylight as many of the marks had been damaged by last year’s hurricanes and were off station.  The winds were in the low teens and were on our stern when we departed and dropped all night; the seas were practically glass when we reached Marina Hemingway.  The only stressful element of the trip were the poorly lit (or completely unlit) fishing vessels and endless longline markers littering the way.  The markers were lit, but there were so many of them that dodging them was still a job and a half.  It was a 91.3 nm trip that took 19 ½ hours.

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Here’s one of the little bastard floats we dodged all night.  It’s essentially a PVC cross with a stick poking up with a light on it.  We saw entire galaxies of these things.

The entrance channel to Marina Hemingway is narrow and has a reef on both sides; it also has a strong cross current and is considered difficult to navigate.  As we approached the marina, we hailed the dockmaster on the radio in English.  He responded in English (thank goodness) with clear and concise directions on how to navigate the channel and where to check in with the Guarda Frontiera.  We pulled into the Customs dock outside of Marina Hemingway at 11:20 AM and had another cursory inspection.  The Customs official (surprise, another attractive young lady in micro-mini and fishnets) looked over our paperwork, filled out some more paperwork, and checked that our satellite phone was still sealed.  One thing that is apparent is that Cuban officials love paperwork.  Once vetted, we proceeded to our assigned slip.

Marina Hemingway is comprised of four canals with wharf style docking on each side of each canal.  The docks are concrete with large (rusty but painted) cleats and no pilings.  At both the Guarda Frontiera dock and the Marina Hemingway dock, we had to put our fenders very high, extending up past the caprail.  Slips are marked by numbers on the pedestals (100s are on dock 1, 200s are on dock 2, etc.).

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The concrete dock meant business, and the tidal swing meant that unless the fenders were placed high, they could get caught beneath the lip of the dock.

As we approached our slip, we were met by the dockmaster (who spoke English) and five other men all trying to help catch lines.  Once we were tied up, the dockmaster came below and filled out a marina contract; it was all in Spanish, so I pretty much took his word for what it contained.  He was funny and personable and informed us that he, Gabriel, was the first ever black angel.  I took this as a good sign.  We engaged in some “Coke diplomacy” with the other guys who helped—as well as the Agriculture officials who showed up despite having nothing to do—and passed out cold Cokes.  This proved to be a winning strategy for our entire stay; it’s a small gesture to show gratitude to people who work hard and don’t have easy access to those types of luxuries.

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All tucked in our slip on Dock 1.  Beyond the grass verge to our starboard is the ocean.

It’s tough to beat the dockage rates at Marina Hemingway:  for our size boat, it was 0.70 CUC per foot per day, which worked out to be 24.71 CUC per day ($27.92 USD).  This includes water, electricity, trash disposal, and access to the heads and showers.  Heck yeah!

We wanted to go to Marina Hemingway because of its storied past and place in Cuba’s history.  It was built in 1953 as part of an urban development plan; when completed, its canals were lined with homes with docks for the owners’ boats.  After the 1959 revolution, it was nationalized and renamed Marina Hemingway.  The houses are gone, but the docks remain.  It is Cuba’s largest marina and hosts internationally-renowned fishing tournaments and regattas.

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You can see exterior of the Chinese restaurant, Papa’s, to the right.  

We weren’t sure what to expect of the marina as we had no frame of reference.  For us it was a fun and comfortable experience, and we would definitely go back.  If you are flexible and patient and adventurous, this is the place for you.  Are you okay with no toilet seats and throwing the toilet paper (that you brought) in the trash can? Do you like meeting people on boats from all over the world and trying to find a common language that mostly ends up being hand gestures? If so, cool.  If you are expecting a luxury resort, you need to go elsewhere.  Most of the staff speak English to some degree but were patient with and appreciative of my stumbling attempts at Spanish.

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The “water” end of Dock 1 looks auspicious with its tiki huts and the snack bar (the blue building).

The staff are all super friendly and helpful; there are security guards patrolling 24 hours, and the grounds are well-lit and generally clean.  Interestingly, the security guards are patrolling for two reasons.  One is, of course, keeping the tourists and their stuff safe.  The other is less obvious:  they are there to keep the Cuban nationals away from the boats.  There are sidewalks along the docks, and non-staff Cubans are not permitted to walk on them.  We saw a wedding party come to the marina to take photos, and the security guard made them stay in the parking lot.  Taxis may cruise through the marina grounds, but drivers must stay in the parking lots or in the public spaces such as the snack bar.  It is also illegal for Cuban nationals to board any of the boats.  This is a sobering thought, but as visitors, it is not our place to comment.

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The view from our boat across a grassy swath towards Dock 2.

Power pedestals are modern and can accommodate 30 amp and 50 amp.  Water to the docks can be iffy; it is held in a huge cistern, and as the water is used, the pressure drops.  By about 11 AM, we had no water to our pedestal; however, if we alerted the dockmaster, they would refill the tank for us to meet our needs.

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The tall tank is the water tank for the docks.  You could judge how much pressure you might expect by whether it was overflowing.

Diesel and gas are available at the end of Dock 3; the dockmaster drove us over in a golf cart, arranged with the staff for the diesel to be pumped, and drove us back to our slip.  Diesel was 1 CUC per liter; our 5 gallon jerry jug holds 20 liters, so it was 20 CUC cash on the spot.  The highlight of that visit was (in my opinion) the two sleek and sassy mutts who clearly ran the operation.

Marina Hemingway is a gated complex containing the marina and its associated buildings, a hotel, and some stores.  At the “water” end of docks 1 and 2 there is a snack bar (drinks only), the heads (4 individual showers), the Chandlery, the dockmaster’s office, tiki huts, and a Chinese restaurant.

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This area was always set up as if hundreds of people were about to show up and party down.  We rarely saw anyone there other than off-duty staff.

The women’s heads were under renovation when we were there, so women were sharing the men’s room for toilets and showers.  The Chandlery has mostly (very well priced) beer and alcohol with some minor foodstuffs and paper goods.

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The Chandlery had an impressive array of Cuban rums and French wines as well as other types of liquor.

Laundry is done by the ladies in the snack bar; one large garbage bag of laundry is 6 CUC ($6.78) for a wash, dry, and fold.  That is cheaper than what I paid at Boot Key Harbor in Marathon, and we used the service twice with excellent results.

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The snack bar was home to sodas, drinks, the heads, the laundry ladies, staff (when they weren’t doing anything), and blaring Latin music videos on the TV. 

At the “land” end of the docks, there is a small Caracol grocery store (no fresh, frozen, or refrigerated food), a tobacco/rum store, a meat shop with an ice cream freezer, and a sundries shop.  On the hotel side of the complex there are three restaurants.  Money can be changed in the hotel lobby, and taxis can generally be found either outside the hotel lobby, outside the shops, or cruising through the marina complex.  The taxis are exclusively old American cars such as 50’s era Fords and Chevys or old Soviet Ladas.  We always had the American cars, and it was so cool every time.

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One of the hotel buildings that abuts the Marina Hemingway docks.  They are really 70’s looking up close; it’s kind of like going back in time.

All in all, Marina Hemingway was a great place to stay for a gratifyingly low cost.  We were able to shop and eat in the surrounding town, Jaimanitas, as well as visit an amazing art installation called Fusterlandia.  It also put us close enough to Havana to make day visits easy and relatively cheap.  Upcoming posts will talk about our tourist exploits.

Posted in Cuba, Offshore

Varadero and Cuban Economics 101

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We knew that Varadero would not be representative of Cuba as it primarily a tourist area, filled with resorts and hotels.  It is the place were many Canadians and Europeans vacation, and the city (and to some extent the entire peninsula on which it sits) cater to tourists.  I think the best way I can describe it is as Disneyland Cuba.  There are beaches and lots of restaurants and shops.  It is spotlessly clean and generally well-maintained.  All in all, it is an interesting and pretty place to visit, but it in no way reflects typical Cuban life and society.  But Varadero’s focus on tourism has had an effect not only on prices but on the currency itself.  To explain, I have to insert a short economics lesson here.

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Rest your eyes on this pretty beach before we begin our lesson.

Cuba has two official currencies, the CUP (“national peso”) and the CUC (“Cuban convertible peso”).  CUP is Cuba’s national currency and can theoretically be used anywhere in Cuba.  The CUC was introduced as a currency to be traded in international markets and to be used by foreign visitors.  There are roughly 24 CUPs to the CUC.  $1 CUC is equivalent to $1 USD, and $1 CUP is equivalent to $0.05 USD.  As a further complication, there is a 10% penalty assessed against the exchange of a USD into Cuban currency (politics), plus a 3% exchange fee, so a USD is actually worth $0.87 CUC.  Visitors can exchange their native currency for both CUPs and CUCs and use whichever is appropriate.

As a loose rule of thumb, CUPs are used by Cubans for their day-to-day living expenses and purchases, and CUCs are used by foreigners in places predominantly intended for tourists.  In general, paying in CUP is less expensive than paying in CUC.  Initially, Cuban nationals were barred from possessing CUCs.  Some years ago, this restriction was lifted, and the use of CUCs has gradually crept into transactions that would historically have used CUPs.  This is relevant because many people’s salaries are still paid in CUPs.  In essence, the effective price of commodities has increased (by the use of a more “expensive” currency) without a commensurate rise in wages.

We saw this in action in Varadero, where it seemed everything was priced in CUC.  Commodities that normally would be priced in CUP, such as vegetables at the farmers market, were priced in CUC.  Even when people paid in CUP, their change was given in CUC.  There were some shops that listed prices in both CUP and CUC, but those were rare.  It was interesting to us to see how economically firewalled the region was by the combination of inflated prices and “tourist” currency.

Lesson over, and on to some pictures.

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Most of the buildings in Varadero were very brightly colored.  This hotel/condo/apartments looked like a giant advertisement for Ikea to me.

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Houses are nestled in lush tropical plants, none of which I recognize.

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Varadero was full of little coffee shops and places to eat.

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Traffic was an eclectic mix of horse-drawn carriages, refurbished old American cars, refurbished old Soviet cars, and modern cars.

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Here is the local post office.  Easy to miss with that small sign!

Posted in Cuba

Feb. 2, 2018: Clearing In to Cuba

As we came alongside the Customs and Immigration dock in Varadero, there were dockhands waiting to help us with our lines.  Within minutes, we were boarded by the first official, a doctor.  I groaned inside—I hadn’t had an opportunity to straighten up below decks, and the mess from a rough crossing was not quite the first impression that I was trying to make.

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The breakwater and lighthouse-esque marker at the entrance to the port.

The doctor removed her shoes, asked if she could board, came below, and asked for our Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation.  She spent several minutes filling out forms relating to our vessel’s and our identifiers.  Near the end of her form-filling, she asked the Captain and I if we were feeling sick or if we had been feeling feverish or ill a few days prior.  We assured her that we hadn’t, and that was that.  No examination of us or the boat was undertaken.  There was no mention of the mandatory health insurance coverage, although I was ready to provide our Divers Alert Network membership cards and Cuba coverage page.

The doctor left and was replaced by the primary Customs official.  She too removed her shoes, asked to board, and came below.  Her English was quite good (much better than my Spanish), and she too filled out many forms based off of our Certificate of Documentation and our passports.  She scrutinized our passports, seriously compared our passport photos to our faces, and digitally photographed our passports.

She asked us about fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products that we had on board as well as how much diesel we were carrying.  The Customs official, along with the doctor, both reiterated a number of times that trash containing food could not be brought ashore.  What food we brought—whether canned, fresh, or frozen—seemed to be one of the most important issues to every official that interviewed us. She went through a long checklist of items to determine whether we had the items on board and if so, how many.  As we responded “yes” to various electronics (VHF, SSB radio, satellite phone, GPS devices), we pointed them out, and she took digital photos of them.  She specifically asked about weapons and narcotics—we don’t have any on board, but what idiot would bring them from the US?

It is not permitted to use satellite phones on land, away from our boat, and she regretfully explained she would have to seal our sat phone in a bag.  We could keep it on board, but the seal had to remain unbroken until we left Cuban waters.  We were prepared for this eventuality and had no problem with it.  All of our other communications devices were fine.

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Our sat phone, sealed in a ziploc and taped by Customs.

Separately, the Captain and I were escorted off the boat to a modern building where we had our photos taken.  The Customs official assumed that we didn’t want our passports stamped and was incredulous when we said that no, we wanted that stamp.  We have permission to be here, and by god, we wanted that stamp.  Apparently that isn’t a common sentiment.

Once we had been returned to the boat, we had two officials from the veterinary and vegetable inspection ministries come aboard.  They were interested in seeing fresh meat products and fresh dairy products.  I showed them what we had in the fridge, and they were satisfied.  They too filled out forms and gave us a copy.

At the end of the check in process, we had stamped passports, visas, a Certificado de Despacho Internacional (arrival document), a Lista de Tripulantes (crew list), a Ministerio de la Agricultura Instituto de Medicina Veterinaria Advertencia (warning about meat and dairy), and a document from the Ministerio de la Agricultura Direccion General de Sanidad Vegetal Exterior (vegetable quarantine regulations).  The whole process took about an hour.

Coming from the United States to a country with which we’ve had such a fraught relationship, we didn’t know what to expect.  This was our first international trip in the boat, and while we had an idea of the steps that would be taken to clear in, we had no idea what tone the exchange would take.  I won’t say we were worried, but we were unsure.

The entire clearing in process was respectful, friendly, and non-confrontational.  Everyone treated us with gestures of respect, from small (asking to board and taking off their shoes) to large (making efforts to speak English and explain when we were confused).  They spent the time and effort to make us fully informed about what was expected of us so that we could follow their rules, which is really all you can ask.  I know we can’t expect that kind of treatment in every country we visit, but a girl can hope.

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The water here is gorgeous.

The Captain will do his share of hoping that Cuban Customs officials will wear off on other countries as well.  The female Customs officials with which we’ve dealt on this trip have been young and buxom.  Their department-issued uniform consists of a too-tight button down shirt, a micro-mini skirt, fishnet stockings, and high heels.  I’ve never seen the Captain so eager to deal with administration (which is normally my job) as when we arrived here.

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Once we cleared in, we hoisted our Cuba courtesy flag.

Posted in Cuba, Uncategorized

February 1-2, 2018: Marathon, FL, to Varadero, Cuba

Varadero is essentially 100 miles due south of Marathon; at our average 5 knot speed, it would take us about 20 hours, so that meant an overnight passage.  Getting there requires passing through the Straights of Florida, which funnels a lot of ocean through a relatively narrow passage.  Add the Gulf Stream passing between Florida and Cuba, and the Straights can be a serious undertaking.  This would be our first time crossing the Gulf Stream rather than riding its edges, and this section of the Gulf Stream is much wider than the section we would cross to go to the Bahamas.  It was also our first open ocean passage; while we have sailed many miles of ocean, we’ve always been within 25 miles or so of a coast.

The weather forecast was for east/northeast winds in the low teens, seas 3-5 feet, and a wave period of 5 seconds.  We weren’t thrilled with the wind direction or the wave period, but it just basically meant a less comfortable ride.  The forecast conditions were well within our skill set, and it was the best window we had seen in weeks.  The icing on the cake was a personalized weather/routing forecast from Chris Parker giving us the green light.

After last-minute groceries and laundry, we were ready to go.  Everything was as secured as possible below, and I made up dinner and snacks ahead of time on the theory that with my tendency towards sea sickness, staying above decks was the smart idea.

We left Boot Key Harbor at around 1:30 PM and headed out in sunny, balmy weather.  We had one reef in the main and the staysail rolled out and were motorsailing at a nice clip.  As we entered the Straights, the seas were large and the wave period short; the waves were hitting us on the port beam or quarter, making keeping our balance a real challenge.  Even sitting down was exhausting because every core muscle tensed to keep us upright every 5 seconds.  The sails were doing their best to steady us, but they couldn’t fight seas like that.

The afternoon went smoothly, but the winds started picking up gradually during the late afternoon.  After dinner, we began our 3 hour on/3 hour off watch schedule, and I went below to catch some sleep in the sea berth.  I should have known better, because if there’s one thing we’ve learned in all of these miles of sailing, it’s that if things are going to get tough, it’s going to happen at night.  I tried to sleep in the washing machine that was my berth and eventually gave up.  Even cocooned with pillows, I was getting thrashed.  For the rest of the night, whatever rest either of us got was in the cockpit on the low side.  Going below to use the head was one of the more masochistic things I’ve done, but the bladder of a middle-aged woman will not be denied.

As soon as it got dark (of course), the winds shot up into the low 20 knots, sustained, with gusts into the high 20s.  We put another reef in the main.  The seas started building; because we had wind over current (wind blowing in the opposite direction to the prevailing current—in this case the Gulf Stream), the waves were getting to be 5 feet +.  We had a bright half moon, and we could see the “marching elephants” waves as they roared past.  The autopilot was having a hard time in the large seas and would occasionally disengage when we were in a trough, and the Captain ended up helming for 20 hours of the 21 hour trip.  It was never scary, but it was sure as hell exhausting.

We can’t fault the meteorologists for being wrong on the forecast.  The Gulf Stream in this area is essentially the Gulf Stream on steroids.  The area between the Florida Keys and northeastern Cuba is where three strong currents meet.  From the west coast of Cuba, there is a current from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.  From the east cost of Cuba, there is a current from the Caribbean.  There is also a rotating current in the Gulf of Mexico.  This current craziness can make its own weather patterns.

We started hailing the Cuban Garda Frontera when we entered Cuban territorial waters (about 12 miles from land), but as we had been warned ahead of time, they did not respond.  In their defense, it was something like 6 AM.  As we got closer to land, we raised the dockmaster at Marina Gaviota, and he alerted Customs and Immigrations of our approach.  We arrived at the Customs Dock at about 10:30 AM and began the clearing in process.  I’ll go over that in the next post.

Posted in Cuba, Offshore

January 31, 2018: Goodbye, Marathon

After staying a month and a half in Boot Key Harbor, we were simultaneously eager to move on to new sights but sad to leave a place where we felt so at home.  The morning Cruisers’ nets, Tuesday afternoon dominos in the common room, the Seven Seas Cruising Association’s Friday lunches at the Hurricane, the potluck brunches, sundowners and dinners with friends—all of these things provided a social dimension to cruising that we don’t normally have as we aren’t in any one place for very long.

Front after front had been moving through Marathon for weeks, and a weather window was opening at the end of January.  It seemed like half of BKH was clearing out, mostly for Bimini.  That was going to be us as well, but the stars aligned to steer us toward an unexpected adventure before we head to the Bahamas:  Cuba.

We tried to go to Cuba last year, but the weather simply never worked out when we were in the right place to make the passage.  We still had an interest in going.  By some weird twist of fate, Addison Chan, author of the Waterway Guide: Cuba, and his wife Pat were on a mooring ball near us.  Addison and Pat go to Cuba each year and have what we consider an unmatched knowledge of pretty much every important issue, all from a full-time cruising perspective.  Addison did an hour-long netcast on traveling by boat to Cuba, and he was generous enough to answer all of our questions.

So with renewed confidence, we applied for our Coast Guard 3300 permit.  It was granted for February 1 through February 16.  We left Marathon on February 1 for an overnight passage to Varadero, Cuba.  But more on that later!

Here are some fun memories of our time in Marathon.

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This truck is parked outside of the combination Public Defender’s/Prosecutor’s Office.  It is there every day, so it must belong to an employee.  The bumper sticker, if you can’t read it, says, “I do whatever my Rice Krispies tell me to.”  There’s so much to say about this truck that I don’t know where to start.

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Boot Key Harbor has a number of resident iguanas.  In this case, I’d call it an iguana-zilla.  Thank god these things are vegetarians, or they’d be eating small dogs as appetizers.

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This couple recently got a kitten and has rigged self-rescue devices for him if he falls overboard.  There is a fender on each side, wrapped with line; if the cat falls in, he can crawl up the fenders and back into the boat.  That was one pissed off cat on the day they taught him how it works.

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We were having lunch at La Nina one day when the cooks brought out this whole roasted pig.  Party at someone’s house!

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This mini-sub sits by the side of the road across from BKH marina.  I think it’s supposed to be a portrait of Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean fame.  Personally, I think it’s a perfect example of the Uncanny Valley because it’s creepy as hell.

Posted in FL, Moorings

Murals of Marathon, Part 2

The Marathon Mural project continues with some more entries.

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Tilden’s has a great mural that wraps around the building, but there were too many cars parked in front of the other side.  Maybe another time.

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I would need a better camera to do this one justice.  I can’t remember what store hosts it, but it is incredibly colorful and quite realistic.  It’s also huge!

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This one is on the street-facing side of a cute little hotel.  I’m guessing the hoteliers like cats, because otherwise it’s kind of a weird tableau.

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A “hotel” of a slightly different sort . . .

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This is the creepiest take on “Dogs Playing Poker” that I’ve ever seen.  

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I love this one.  This is the rear of Overseas Liquor.  The whole building is painted very whimsically and quite realistically.  See how they made the downspout a 3D palm trunk? You’ll be seeing more of this building later.

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And here’s a portion of the building-spanning painting on the front of The Steak and Lobster House, home of Happy Hour from 11:30 AM to 6:00 PM.  Hell yeah!

Posted in FL