Ode to Cuban Mechanics

Cuban mechanics can fix anything, using nothing.

              No matter how carefully maintained, something on a cruising boat will always need fixing. So what happens when an American-made boat needs work in Cuba? The 55-year-old embargo on commerce makes it impossible to air ship replacement parts. There’s duty-free shipping to Grand Cayman, but it requires an expensive flight to pick up the package.

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Cruising Cuba: Dinghy Diaries

The  beach at Cienfuegos marina. Club Recreativo and charter catamarans in background.
The  landing beach at Cienfuegos marina. Club Recreativo and charter catamarans in background.

          When I arrived at Cienfuegos, the Guarda Frontera who dinghied out to meet me came armed with a new paper to sign. It stated that I understood and would comply with the rules of the marina, i.e. show a light at anchor and agree to take my dinghy out of the water every night.

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Cruising Cuba: Learning the Rules

In Cuba, officials never arrive alone. Ordinary citizens aren’t allowed on foreign boats without the Port Captain’s permission, and then they use the buddy system.

The first to board is the doctor. He leaves his shoes on the dock, covers his stocking feet with cloth booties and asks permission, then swings a leg over the rail. After checking on the general wellbeing of the entire crew — nothing more serious than seasickness and a slight cold — he scans each forehead and records temperatures.

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Cruising Cuba: An Experience in Cuban Health Care

I blame the mayonnaise. I should have tossed it as soon as I noticed it had been left out, not made a tuna sandwich with it.


​A few hours later the vomiting began. It didn’t stop. 

An hour later I was prone on the dock, retching into an otherwise clear bay. The marina’s Cuban security  — as well as others who keep an eye on foreigners – investigated my strange position.

Was something wrong? That seemed to be the case.

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WIll This Be the Year?


Feb 12, 2015



The first thing you learn is what not to say: Cue-bah.
It's pronounced KOOBA.

Now that I have that out of my system, I can admit the first thing I really learned: Cuba is amazing. The people. The natural beauty. The water. The reefs. The music. 
This is not to be construed as promoting tourism; OFAC prohibits that, and they're the people handing out licenses.

But it's hard not to be enthusiastic. 

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