|Our first attempt to leave the Dry Tortugas was aborted after about 7 miles when we cleared the reef and found the seas too rough to continue so we turned around and re-anchored. I had been pushing my misgivings about this trip to the back of my head for quite some time and I overreacted slightly, well maybe more than slightly at this minor setback. Let's just say that the Admiral lost it and my poor unsuspecting Captain bore the brunt of my newly exposed fears. It was one of those nights where he was glad that we have 2 staterooms!
The following morning dawned fair and calm and we attempted to get a weather report from both the Coast Guard and the Tortugas Park Ranger but neither could or should I say would provide such information. We do have a Single Sideband Radio but have never been able to get it to work so it really is something we need to rectify.
In order to cruise straight to Mexico we would be out for 49 hours which meant 2 days and 2 nights, with the nights being the worst part. Had we enjoyed fair winds and following seas this would have been the route of choice but by about 3 p.m the wind picked up and the waves got nasty. I normally don't eat when we are in rough water but I had just finished a light meal of 2 pieces of jerk chicken. Well that became fish food as I became suddenly and violently seasick.
Poor John was Captain, deck hand and nurse, driving, donning his life jacket to go out on the deck to refasten a loosened anchor and tending to the poor sick patient all at the same time. It was too late for the Dramamine to take effect and up it came. He sponged me off and emptied my bucket several times, running up and down to keep the boat turned into the waves at the same time. "Stop in Cuba", I begged him and he agreed. Somehow in my altered state I interpreted this as we'd alter course, be there before dark and have a nice sleep tied to shore.
It was a rough 10 hours but by about 1 am I felt better and climbed up to the flybridge to see when we would arrive. "Why can't we see land yet?", I asked and then found out that stopping in Cuba still meant traveling until late the next afternoon. It was a very wise decision of his not to break this news to me until I recovered from my malaise.
I really don't like driving in the dark in rough waters so hubby drove until it got light out and then I took over for the morning while he slept. It's difficult to sleep though when you are literally being bounced around in bed so he was back up to keep me company before long.
For a while the wind died down and it looked like we might be able to skip Cuba after all but our relief was short lived and finally once the decision was made to land in Cuba the Captain increased our speed and headed for Cabo San Antonio on the very western tip of Cuba. Had we known we would stop in Cuba we could have increased speed much earlier but we were holding out for the Mexico plan which meant conserving fuel was our priority.
From Tortugas to Isle Mujeres is a distance of 340 statute miles. We carry enough fuel to cover 500 miles BUT we would have the Gulf Stream working against us for almost the entire trip, which would drastically reduce our mileage. This was the reason that the Captain decided to invest $50 in 10 spare gas tanks, plus one that we already had to carry an additional 55 gallons of diesel fuel, which we added to the tanks as we traveled. Oh well hindsight is 20/20 and we had to be prepared for either event. Bureaucracy or not, we were headed for Cuba.
We were within sight of land when all of a sudden John came down with a bout of sea sickness, a first for him. So there I was bringing Diamond Lil down the channel towards Marina Gaviota Cabo San Antonio while he took a turn feeding the fish. We called on the radio, in English of course and received no reply. We finally figured out where to dock, were greeted "ola" by the dockhands, who were actually 2 of the many officials we were soon to meet and set foot for the first time in Cuba.