On March 30, 2017, we joined the Cruising World Expedition and Rally to Cuba. This adventure took us a distance of
98NM across the Florida Straits from Key West to Havana, Cuba. A fleet of sixty boats dotted the horizon with white sails as we set off that evening in a gentle breeze. The wind steadily increased during the night to 25 knots and the sea state responded with fierceness to the increased wind against the opposing Gulf Stream. It made for an ugly confused sea but Zuri took it in her stride and responded like the sailing machine that she is.
<<Zuri sailing past the El Morrow castle outside of Havana Harbor, Cuba, 2017
Zuri under spinnaker in Cuba>>
We had one reef in the mainsail and Zuri’s leeward hull dug into the raging sea but she never lost any speed. We were sailing in the double digits, up to 14 knots at some points during the night. Even though our boat speed was in the double digits, our speed over ground (SOG) was greatly diminished due to the relentless Gulf Stream pushing against us as we smashed into the waves.
Sailing the Florida Keys is full of wonders if you take the time to explore. The Keys are a boating paradise with a subtropical climate and SE winds most of the year. There are wonderful fishing, snorkeling, and diving destinations all within a day's sail.
The Dry Tortugas, a US national park made mostly of open water and 6 small islands, is 70 miles west of Key West. This destinatino features pristine water, coral reefs, and the historical Fort Jefferson.
A barrier reef runs 221 miles along Florida’s southeast coast from Key Biscayne to the Dry Tortugas. It is the only living coral barrier reef in the continental U.S. and is the third largest coral barrier reef system in the world. The reef is protected as an underwater state park known as the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first underwater sea park of its kind.
Stephen and I along with many friends have cruised the Keys many times as well as driven from Miami to Key West on several occasions. We discover a new gem each time we venture into the Florida Keys. The Florida Rambler is a great guide of all the places of interest in the Florida Keys, mile marker to mile marker, all across the Overseas Highway! Be prepared to see unusual sights like Perky's Bat Tower on Sugarloaf Key, Jules' Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, and the Seven Mile Bridge.
Travel to Cuba as an American tourist is still illegal for US citizens despite the handshake between President Obama and Cuban President, Raul Castro, to restore full diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US. Technically it’s never been illegal to travel to Cuba, it's just been illegal to spend money in Cuba per 6 different pieces of federal legislation including the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 and 5 other laws implemented to amend the economic and financial embargo between 1961 and 2000. US citizens must qualify in one of 12 categories to be licensed for Cuban travel including family visits, religious or educational activities, clinics, workshops, journalistic activity, and humanitarian projects.
Map courtesy www.worldatlas.com
Sitting in the lounge of the Charthouse, overlooking Annapolis Harbor in Spa Creek, we were admiring yet another dreamy sunset descending upon this lovely historic town. Glimpse for yourself on the webcam. Spring has finally arrived in the northeast after a long, cold winter. A light breeze gently sways the few sailboats in the harbor back and forth on their anchors, inviting yet another sailing season in on the Chesapeake Bay. The local sailors are restless, busily de-winterizing and preparing their craft to get out on the bay at the first opportunity. This scene conjures up memories of the incredible summer we spent cruising on the Chesapeake Bay last year.
St. Croix is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 1917 St. Croix along with the islands of St. John and St. Thomas were purchased by the United States from the Danish for military reasons. It is still a U.S. territory today with it's largest town, Christiansted. St. Croix was once an agricultural powerhouse in the Caribbean, mainly thanks to its sugar plantations. However this period ended with the rapid industrialization of the island's economy in the 1960s.
Today the main industries are tourism, agriculture and oil refinery. St. Croix is home to the Cruzan Rum Distillery which for many years used locally grown sugar cane to produce a single "dark" style rum. The quality and smoothness of the Cruzan Estate Rums has won more than 30 Spirit Awards. Love, love love this Rum! Check out our "Homemade Spiced Rum" recipe!
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