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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Brice, Captain of the sailing vessel Asia recounts a voyage in the Gulf.
About the boat and my trip, I'm not much of a writer so bear with me.
I have taken s/v Asia C&C 27, to Cuba twice now. Asia is equipped with a 160% furling jib and a seasoned main. We do fly a spinnaker, but since we're a cruiser, it's for keeping moving and not all-out racing.
The first trip was fantastic. The Gulf of Mexico is rather tranquil at times and then the summer squalls blow like stink and all hell breaks loose. 'Six knots or sixty,' as we say here during the summer.
From Sarasota to the Gulf Stream was rather uneventful. Once we were in the Gulf Stream, the trades picked up to 20-25 kt., the waves were 5-7 with occasional 9-footers. My motto is just keep the boat moving fast and comfortable, and just get across the Stream as quickly as possible, while not pressing the boat or crew too much. The boat did great – top speed was 11 kt. on the GPS, hit while surfing down a wave ( so much for being comfortable). We made it and the boat was great.
On our return that trip we hit numerous squalls, with wind speed above 70 kt. for a short time. "Wow." The waves were short and steep – the stream is notorious for this. Again the boat did great under reefed main and motor, which kept our bow pointed to the swells. The rest of this trip was great.
The second trip we again encountered the same conditions. Asia's beam is fantastic for stability. The boat I owned prior to Asia was a Pearson Triton – a big difference – was definitely slower but tracked better, and just kept plugging along. I took this boat to Cuba as well, conditions pretty much the same.
If I were going around the world I would prefer the Triton due to the ability to heave to and the full keel. I would miss the great living space below though – the C&C can't be beat for its down-below size, at least for a boat built during the seventies.
Anyway, the second trip we sailed west along the coast of Cuba for two weeks, crazy squalls, large waves, etc.etc. We sailed inside the reef most of the trip 'til we reached the western tip of Cuba. Then we meet the Yucatan or Puckatan as the Coast Guard crew called it, more about that in a bit. These were large swells, beause there was a small disturbance off Belize and coupled with the Yucatan channel current WOW, WOW – it was ruff for my little girl. Again she did wonderfully. I found if you shorten sail, reef the jib and hold on she does great, up and down, up and down.
In the middle of the Yucatan channel my fearless crew awoke me (the good captain) because they thought this boat might be checking us out. I grumbled and said, "so what" but "Captain I really think they are." I came on deck from a deep sleep to see the 300 ft. Coast Guard Ship Tomahawk what seemed like a few feet off the bow. "*&(^**&^%&*" or something like that I said. I called them on the VHF, they boarded us and searched for drugs, guns and women, none of which we had. They were just kids with guns. They were very nice and sent us on our way with a warning for not having a 'don't dump poop overboard' plaque. I'm an old man 41 yr's. LOL
The waves were 6-10 ft but they were coming from all different directions so it was uncomfortable to say the least. I pressed her fairly hard, our weather window was short and the Yucatan current is hell at times. We made it in great time, waited a few hours till sunrise then threw the reef to Isle Mujures. We stayed a few weeks and had a really great time.
The sail back to the US was uneventful, not much wind, seas were fairly calm. We motor sailed and made it in 4.5 day non-stop to Sarasota.
Of course I'm partial to this boat, but looking back, I can't say enough about her, she held up great, she really got pounded at times and no hull or gear failure. Of course I would like a bigger boat and Asia might be for sale after my return for this reason.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Me Again

I have sailed to Cuba Six times, can not say enough about the people and the country, My last trip I was offshore while we invaded Iraq, I sail for humanitarian reasons, to take stuff to kids at an orphanage outside Havana, hence the ability to go there legal,

I sailed A 29 ft Pearson Triton last trip, solo from Sarasota to Havana, It was to too dangerous to enter Marina Hemingway( strong North Winds breaking waves on the reef entrance) so I was allowed to sail into downtown Havana harbor. For me it was a fantastic trip with challenging weather, then to be allowed to sail into the harbor past the Morrow Castle, was well priceless. Not to bore you, but encourage people to get up and go,

Popeye
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Popeye

One of the many typos, thank you and I like your thoughts on our troops, Navy Corpsman myself, a few years back.:)
 

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My last trip I was offshore while we invaded Iraq, I sail for humanitarian reasons, to take stuff to kids at an orphanage outside Havana, hence the ability to go there legal,
Popeye
Can you tell us more about going there legally? I thought former President made this a big no, no.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
HI Joe

I have been six times, the first time 1994 ? 1995 I think, was with a local sailing squadron race to Cuba, allowed by the Us Government. The trick was we had full sponsorship from Marina Hemingway, no cost for dockage so we did not spend money in Cuba, therefore we did not break the embargo.

I have been since and have always applied and received security zone departure permits from the US Coast Guard very important in the past not sure about the current regulations regarding this . I have letters from the Orphanage I visit and take things too, saying I ate there and was their guest, also from the Marina as well. Upon return to clear in Key West I told them the truth and and the purpose for my visit. I do have a non profit 501 c-3 corporation from the IRS, I travel the world to see and help kids. This helps and I have had no trouble clearing in Key West.

I have heard stories and of boarding, hassle etc etc. I am not sure if they are true but I do know a race was attempted from Key West a few years back and it was stopped. Also people have been fined I think while returning from Mexico or Canada via the airport and the obvious Cuba passport stamps

Also my last trip was the night we invaded Iraq and I was offshore, I kept going thinking it might be much more difficult in the future.

The Cubans and the US Military see you on radar when you leave the states, and when you return, or continue on your voyage, yes all the way to Cuba and back. I think Common sence would tell me that the Cuban Military and the Americans share information with each other, in reference to boats in Cuba, if they ask.

I think if you do not have a record or present any problems to the US government they would rather not let you know they know you were there, if that makes sense.

A few days ago I read on the internet a bill was being presented to ease the travel restrictions to go to Cuba, we will see. I can not say enough about the Cuban people, helpful , friendly, they want what we want, good jobs, good education for their children, hope and A bright outlook for the future.

One of my trips I continued inside the reef to Maria La Gorda, then on to Isla Mujures, I beautiful trip, again the people were great and curious abuut Americans and are looking forward to changes.

Sorry to rabble on its early forgive the grammar and spelling, hope this helps

Popeye
 
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