The Adventures of CS33 Borean
2003 - 2004

Instalment 4 - November 30th, 2003 - Havana, Cuba 

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(Occationally, editorial comments from Don of S/V Destiny Calls, host of this web site and southern waters frequenter, will appear in green italic)

Fourth Installment
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We finally left Key West on Tuesday the 25th of November and are now in Marina Hemmingway just outside of Habana (Sanra Fe).

Key West is one of those particular places that remains with you for a long time. This wasn’t our first visit here. Janette and I came here in October 2001 for Fantasy Fest, a carnival of decadent sorts. Essentially this is party central, with cruise ships making regular stops. There is no shortage of patrons or revelers for the many bars and gift shops that line Duvall street. Cruising sailors will only occasionally be found here for any length of time, as everything is expensive and we know how cheap we sailors are. This did not stop Janette and I from playing tourist for a couple of days. This town started to grow at the turn of the century as train travel was introduced. Many large and beautiful homes were built very close together in the city center. These side streets off of Duval are where we took long walks admiring the white clapboard homes and small estates.

We did see the house where PAN AM was started. There was also a house with a garden tour but we were too cheap to pay for the tour. Only Janette would have enjoyed it! The sun being very strong here the color of choice is to paint your house white. Harry Truman had a home here and it is called “The Little White House”. The other famous American who lived here was Ernest Hemmingway, and there are tributes and reminders of his presence here all over. But all roads here lead back to Duvall street where another famous American hangs his hat. Jimmy Buffett…. the much loved balladeer of sailors and non sailors alike owns a restaurant and bar. This is where you can have a “hamburger in paradise” and a hangover from hell.

Drinking is tolerated almost everywhere on Duvall street and many bars have open windows onto the street where you can hear the music from Buffett copycats who play for tips and hawk their own CD’s. You can usually find them to be pretty talented and worthwhile to stop by for a beer or two.. Other establishments worthy of mention are The Garden of Eden and Naked Lunch. As their names imply they are a clothing optional establishments where one can either drink or eat in the buff. They told me to put my clothes back on at the Garden of Eden as it wasn’t an option for me …and not wanting to keep picking hairs from my food.W e decided not to go to the Naked Lunch. But we did have lunch at the famous Sloppy Joe”s restauarant.

We were really had… was too expensive and there was very little in the basket which passes for a plate. Janette was still hungry… so she had a cinnamon ice cream later and I had the most expensive cookie ever (8 ounces of cookie with chocolate chips and nuts. I was so hungry I was “nuts” to pay $6,48 for it. But it was delicious.

We left our mooring at 13:00 and got to the outer marker of Key West at 15:00. Pointing the bow into the wind we hoisted our sails and set a course for Marina Hemmingway , some 91 nautical miles away. The first few hours were fine, but as we got closer to the Gulf Stream the waves picked up and once we were in a beam sea. These are not the most comfortable seas to be on and our speed decreased greatly once we were fully in the flow of the Gulf Stream. As night came upon us and being only three hours out , we could see the glow form the city light of Hanaba and Varaderro which lies to the east. Janette and I set up the watch, she would have 2 hours on watch while I did 2 1/2 . During my watches were when we would encounter other vessels , never during Janette’s.

At night your perception changes quite a bit, and being tired doesn’t help any either. On one of my watches I could have sworn I was on a parallel course with an oncoming ship. As we approached each other he turned on a powerful searchlight and pointed it directly in my face. I was a little confused at first…thinking it might be a vessel either from the Amaerican or Cuban navy coming to challenge me. As I saw his bow coming closer I realized just what was happening, and we were on a collision course. With the autohelm still engaged I grabbed the wheel and turned hard to port missing the other bow by only a few boat lengths.

Our eyes also play tricks on us at night, we seem to see things that aren’t there , or our brains misinterpret what is reality. As the waves pounded our port side the occasional crest would break just under the bow lights, casting a glow on the wave resembling a bird in flight. That morning after sunrise I saw what those birds were…..flying fish that were strewn on our deck.. With the sun fully up over the horizon, Janette joined me in the cockpit for the final 5 hours to our marker. Having been tossed about all night did not go well with Janette as she ended up being seasick. Thankfully it did not last very long and she was back on her sea legs…all the time exclaiming she would never cross an ocean.

With our marker in sight I took the helm and steered towards the opening to the Marina. It was easy to understand the guide books reasoning for entering in daylight and with a fvourable wind direction.. The channel is marked with green bouys , which are difficult to pick out. The opening is only 25 yards wide with reefs on either side where the waves go crashing over, sending huge sprays skywards. After having passed through we tied up to the dock of the Gurdia Frontera, and awaited the multitude of inspectors that would come to greet us…..but that will be for the next installment.

Hasta la vista


Yes sir, Key West, home of the biggest Marina bill I ever paid.

It was March 1996, and Joni and I had flown down to Florida to join a buddy Al McMurtry on his Bayfield 32 based out of Marathon in the beautiful and crowded Keys. We had some great weather and were just poking around the place when I said to Al “Hey, why don’t we sail to Key West. I’ll pick up the Marina bill so we can party hardy!”

Al’s eyes went big as saucers and he got one of those goofy sly smiles you get when you’re holding four aces and a wild card. “Sure” he said slowly, “that’d be nice. Yes.... very nice.”

We stayed at the Galleon Marina which is part of the Hyatt Key West Resort located right at the western end of Duval Street. It was a wonderful place and we had a great time. But it wasn’t cheap. $ 2.75 per foot, 35 feet minimum. Almost $ 350.00 for three nights with taxes and and a bit of ice. It was only slightly less, after the US/Canadian exchange rate, than I pay for my slip in Montreal for the whole season.

Key Weird, Key Expensive

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