Archive for March, 2010

Jardines de la reina

Posted in Uncategorized on 11/03/2010 by ketchkaraka

So what happened? It’s been a while really…
I’ll just give you the idea you can then imagine the details.

leaving jamaica the 21st @ 0830 – nice sail – wind slowing veering to the south and picking up – arriving cayo cachiboca in the jardines de la reina @ 1500 the next day – entering the pass with wind in the back and 4 knots current pulling us in – kway up the mast – catching a barracuda on the trolling lure– getting worried as the crew gets excited about the fish and forgets about the reef – shallow – anchor @ 20 42.143 N and 78 45.00 W – barracuda fritters – move further in to get out off swell – beach combing 4 kilometers to the light house – don’t dare climb all the way cause there is a big nest on the ladder two third up – find a nice paddle on the beach – iguanas – sea shells – silence – solitude – beauty – wading back to the boat – vicious octopus attack – jumping up and down in knee deep water trying to remove wriggling and biting goo on my leg – cloud of ink – bloody nick on my ankle – worried swim back to the boat with 4 knots current – wine making with old raspadura cane candy – extra ingredients: maggots and mold – outrigger expedition in the mangrove – shooting two snappers in knee deep water – plucking 4 conchs from the sea floor – learning how to prepare conch – ripping skin with teeth and eating raw the spaghetti like appendage – big norther – cold and windy – 4 more conches – fixing myself a big speargun – very cold weather – windy – lazy – kway trying to spear big barra under the boat while hanging on the ladder – no success – re anchor in deeper water as we dragged during the storm and we are now aground every low tide – spearfishing the mangrove mazes – whole crew expedition through the mangrove to the light house 4 miles away – the nest empty except for bones – tuna can lunch at the top of the world – catching a 15 kilo barracuda behind the boat with a whole fish as bait – wood expedition in cayuco – BBQ barracuda after much worry about ciguatera poisoning – cat pissed off because she wants to be an expandable mammal but we won’t let her – BBQ disaster – hot coals everywhere – slow cooking with the left over coals – boiling the head of the fish to save the skull – barracudas have bones in their eyes! – drying the extra meat in the wind – recipe : slice thin, dip in vinegar till discolored, roll in spices, string on twine with sail needle passing twice through, hang outside for a couple days – big clean on board – just short of getting the vacuum cleaner out – visit from a small sport fishing boat with a fat russian grinning on it – next day visit from same boat but with an uniformed cuban grinning on it this time – doesn’t tell us to leave but on the opposite to go further in as a huge norther is on its way – recommend a mooring somewhere way in – moving to the mooring @ 20 42.603 N and 78 43.893 W – diving on a ferro cement fishing boat wreck – snappers – more snappers – calm – warm – birds flying low – magnificent sunset – plenitude – still calm and warm – waiting for the storm – mangrove fishing – norther – cold – windy – dropping mooring and getting away under sail – sailing west – conditions not pleasant – bad course – turning back and anchoring in the piedra grande pass @ 20 45.787 N and 78 50.509 W– lots of current – kway finds a pair of fins on the beach – they match – rick makes conch chowder – windy night – 2 sailboats on the horizon in the morning – leaving under sail – catching up on the sail boats – pretending to be pirates – getting our muskets clean – sharpening our cutlasses – flying carpet conditions – the slow swish of a well balanced boat – 6 knots steady and no rolling – having to give up chase as we catch our first fish – then our second – then our third – then our fourth – tuna sashimi feast – fried barracuda feast – more tuna feast – so much fish we have to stop fishing – anchored off estero las auras @ 20 52.874 N and 79 03.669 W – very shallow water – far from shore – little bummie just behind the boat in 3 meters of water – incredible visibility – fish everywhere – so much fish we don’t know which ones to get for dinner – barracudas everywhere – lobsters everywhere – vote for lobsters – lobsters not even scared of us – catching two big ones – releasing a small female – another norther – strong north wind – cold – wind turning to NNE – trade wind – more lobsters – move out to the edge of the reef @ 20 52.682 N and 79 03.820 W – water insanely clear over 50 meters visibility – can see behind the boat from where the anchor lies – nice reef – cold water – barracudas everywhere – shooting two nice groupers, one kway, one tom – nurse sharks – turtles – murray eels – snappers and snappers – schools of barracudas – massive jacks – serviced cockpit winches with elan and tara – cuban boat coming our way – uniforms – boarding – friendly but firm – enough is enough, they say – know all about us and our illegal coming and going – agree to leave next morning for closest port of entry to check in – inform us they will be around – last snorkel on the reef – catching a big jack on the back of the boat at night – rick cooks it with an incredible sweet and sour sauce with pineapple – wind turning easterly – leaving under sail – flat sea behind the islands – beautiful sailing – catching fish like crazy – hoping for tunas – release two barracudas – lose two massive tunas – eat a mackerel for lunch – release one more barracuda – the cuban officials trailing us as we pass near cayo alcatracito and its beautiful beach in the cinco balas archipelago – no stopping allowed – wind dies on us – bobbing around for a few hours – elan practicing poi on top of the cabin – wind picks up – wind picks up more – reefing – wind picks up more – reefing more – jesus the wind vane useless in swell and gusts – have to steer by hand – averaging 8 knots – glowing night – planets for compass – lights on the horizon – sailing close to shore – a wake of stars – karaka is a comet – still going 8 knots – wind slowly dying as the sun comes up – sail slowly all the way passed the light house at the entrance – drop sails and motor in – passing some Styrofoam blocks converted into fishing boats – spanish fort in the sunrise – guarda costa station – bienvenido a cuba socialista – tie to dock at the marina in cienfuegos @ 0800 on the 10th – dock master recognizes me and calls me “el hombre del brazo” , the man of the arm – the barracuda story got around – funny old wooden boat from greenland next to us – hull painted orange and a husky dog on board – stream of officials – paperwork – stamps – boots – cat hides into the lockers – 2 search dogs this time – port captain picks up the guitar and plays – elan joins him – jam session in the saloon as the others rummage through everything – macho cubans in uniform dancing salsa inside the boat – exchange a can of tuna for two limes with a gastronomically minded cuban official – offer some crackers and some strawberry jam to our tormentors – an aesthetically minded custom officer in awe of pierre’s drawing of karaka on the wall – summon – Que es eso, capitan?, what’s this, captain? – this is a pack of rolling papers sir – where is the drug? – we have no drug – where is the drug? – we have no drug – where is the drug ? – we have no drug – elan apologizes and explains – we convince them we are not dumb enough to bring ganja to cuba – rant about the looseness of the jamaican rules – rant about the strictness of the cuban rules – evil eyes – innocent faces – all clear – we don’t have any drugs on board – cat got a tattoo somehow – face all blue and seem pissed off by it – too much stamp ink around – going in town to change cash – rate better than last year – euro at 1.21 cuc – US dollars at 0.89 cuc – canadian dollars at 1.14 cuc – glad we changed our US $ to euro and canadian $ in jamaica – visas delivered on the spot and costing 25 cucs – they don’t stamp passports in cuba – run to the shop – ice cream – cold beer – bottle of havana club – old chevys from the 50s glistening on the avenue – antique russian motorcycles with side cars zooming past – hip swinging ladies giving us looks – digging cuba immensely – trip to the 5 stars hotel for internet – back on the boat – very tired – have to get off the dock as new boat is coming – fill water from dock tap – go anchor @ 22 07.587 N and 80 27.204 W, just off the dock – next to us is the dutch boat Netjer with happy dad and baby dan we met in jamaica – drop dinghy – have a rum – make some baked potatoes – first hot food since when? I can’t remember – have another rum – visit from philippe and katoon from blue boat we met in haiti – she has a sprained ankle – they have been in cuba for 6 weeks – santiago de cuba marina was crap : 10 kms from town , cement factory leaking into the anchorage, fumes from the smoke stakes just upwind – glad we didn’t go – tell us tonight is party ashore – too tired to care – have another rum – have more potatoes – music starts – jump in dinghy and go ashore – little bar in the marina packed – drums – guitars – cow bells – dancing girls in matching sexy outfits – free food – free booze – people dancing – bands playing in turn – different styles – voodoo – son – mariachi – flamenco – salsa – classical ballet dancer – katoon thinks karaka is a live music magnet – fake corrida on the dance floor – maintenance guy from marina is the bull – guitarist is the toreador – the pianist’s fingers move so fast I can’t see them – Ole! – big cake – it is the birthday of the boss of the local charter company – meet up with the other sailors – cool people – they know all about us – introductions – so you’re the barracuda man, huh? – so you’re the one dollar boat man, huh? – So you’re the pirate attack guy, huh? – I’m falling asleep – they try to wake me up with a mojito – talks – katoon give me the low down on what happened to our donation that got looted in haiti after we left – rants – more drinks – more music – rick is boogieing – Elan tells a german skipper he thinks I’m spoiling him with karaka, as he’ll never be able to find another boat as good as her to get started on his own – finally back to the boat – everybody’s drunk – we pass out


Cienfugos, Cuba

Posted in Uncategorized on 10/03/2010 by ketchkaraka

All is well, we finally arrived in the marina in cienfuegos on the south coast of cuba, after two incredible weeks in the islands of the jradines de la reina in the south east cuba. We caught more fish than we knew what to do with, lobster were not scared of us and more numerous than cockroaches in a jamacain market, the water was often so clear we could see as far as 50 or 60 meters under water, and well, I could go on but what the point… it was great…

right now we are not sure what the next move will be, we still have to decide. The crew is still on and doing well, kim reported her return by a couple weeks to go to a folk festival but she’ll be back with us early april. She has been in touch with potential crew members but I don’t have all the details yet. It seems we are going to have some people coming soon, but once more I am not sure about that.

Ok, I will keep that short as internet is horendously expensive and also I am quite ready for a well deserved mojito, the passage from the islands to here last night was wonderfull but taxing, we were flying along at 8 knots the whole way, but we had reef and to steer by hand as the wind vane was acting funny, and the navigation was tricky too so that I ended up, actually we all ended up, not sleeping much…

so off I go more news later