Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How not to bring your boat into the dock!!

I saw this guy coming in and for whatever reason started hoping that he was not docking next to us!!
Turns out I was on to something!! He tried to dock in a 20+ knot cross wind, missed the weather finger pier, and the boat rotated around and ended up wedged against the main walkway 90 degrees off from his objective!!
Lots of work later and he is safe and sound with minimal damage, but it was ugly!!!

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Monday, March 28, 2011

We are not in Cuba anymore...

Safe and sound in Palm Beach today and for the next week while Deb visits with her sister Tori,

This place could not be more different than Cuba.  Huge yachts, mansions on the water, etc, etc.

Found a nice taco bar!


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cuba to Key West - The Gulf Stream

For those of you interested in such things, here is a plot of our trip across from Cuba to Key West.  The most interesting things here are the red arrows along our track.  These arrows represent the current that we sailed in as we crossed.  The small arrows are probably about a quarter of a knot while the big ones are 4 knots!!  I found it really interesting that the velocity of the current continued to increase right up to the point where we were about 5 miles off Key West when it quickly went to almost zero!!

The Gulf Stream continues right up the coast of Florida.  We are leaving Key West today and plan to ride it for all its worth!!

Next stop Palm Beach (probably!),

-Jim and Deb

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cuba to Key West: 90 miles under a Super Perigee Moon!!

Last nights trip from Havana to Key West was fairly stressful given the fact that our mast was injured due to a broken shroud and was held up by a spider web of lines led to all corners of the boat to provide support.  Not only did we have to sail 90 miles, but we had to cross the Gulf Stream while doing it!  The Gulf Stream runs to the Northeast here against the prevailing winds and this creates some pretty large and confused seas.   Last night the stream was running from 2 - 4 knots, while our boat speed through the water was about 4.5 knots.  That makes for some pretty interesting math when it comes to selecting the course to steer!

The winds were strong and normally we would have waited a few days, but we had reached the end of our cash supply and if we stayed any longer we wouldn't be able to pay our marina fees!!   When you are an American in Cuba it is very difficult to obtain cash.  Credit cards don't work.  ATM cards don't work.  Nobody is going to take your check, etc.

The one saving grace for us was the amazing full moon!! 

Not only was it a full moon, but it was the largest and brightest full moon in almost 20 years.  It's called a super perigee moon..  The last full Moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993. When it’s at perigee, the moon is about 31,000 miles (50,000 km) closer to Earth than when it’s at the farthest point of its orbit. This celestial event is far rarer than the famed blue moon, which happens once about every two-and-a-half years.  You can view NASA's diagram to understand how the Moon's orbit works.

We Are BACK!!!!

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Saturday, March 19, 2011


Weather as advertised 15-20. Storm jib out and doing little but to stabilize us. Engine on at aprox. 5 knots. Slow and easy....

Rig stable!


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Friday, March 18, 2011

The High's are higher, and the Lows are lower...

Our Taxi!
So much to say about Cuba. Here comes a mind dump.

Hemingway Marina from Morpheus
This part is the worst of times...Marina Hemmingway is odd. You can tell it used to be really nice, but it is now in disrepair. The people try hard, but it doesn't quite make it. So many people come by and talk, and talk, and talk, and talk... I had to leave and buy ice when the guy on the boat behind us started thinking I was Dear Abby... His Ex girlfriend's fiance died the day after Valentine's day and she needs space, and.... The boat across from us has SEVEN, count them, 7, Shitz-Shus, all of which started barking this am at 7. Customs was knocking on the boat at 7:30 because they forgot to charge us a fee... 3 different guys asked me if we wanted to buy diesel (NO), then asked Jim because I'm just a chick, not to mention all the hustlers offering Taxi's, Money Changing, cigars. ARG!

So we were not planning on coming to Cuba. Honest. Therefore, we didn't stock up on cash. Since the U.S. embargoes Cuba, there is NO WAY to get $ from the US to here. So we were checking under the sofa cushions to come up with the $ to pay for docking, customs, etc, not to mention all the Tips every single official asked us for very privately so none of the other officials would know.

The Best of times...

Since coming to Cuba, and staying in the Marina would be one of the most stupid things to do in the world, I decided we had to get enough cash to go out at least 1 night. Advice: If you are going to work a deal, go to the biggest boat in the harbor. I went and talked to the Captain of a really nice, big, 100+ foot motor yacht, and wrote him a check for cash! Not a lot, but enough to get out of Cuba and go out to Havana. Yes!

So yesterday afternoon we went out into Havana and had a blast! Of course we saw the best parts. Most of what we saw was from when Spain owned Cuba.

The building were gorgeous, like New Orleans. The wrought iron on the balconies, marble and tile everywhere.

Huge verandas in front of the hotels with people drinking coffee (strong and good), Mojitos (small and refreshing), and smoking huge cigars.

Live Cuban music everywhere. So cool. Plazas with fountains. Photos later. We also went to the Rum Museum and a Beer place that sold Beer by the Meter. 

I found the absolute coolest taxi, a 1958 Chevy Bel Air, light blue and white, that was totally restored, but with a Toyota engine since gas is so expensive. Photos later. Taxi driver Julio (Not Iglesia) drove us into Havana, and gave us a mini tour on the way. It sort of fried my brain having to speak Spanish, listen, translate for Jim, then translate Jim's questions back into Spanish all day. And Julio (not Iglesia) spoke really fast! It took me 3 times to understand that he was saying "Fidel Castro". 

We also took a "Coco Taxi", which kind of looks like a 3 wheeled, football helmet shaped golf cart. 

And we had to take taxi's because taking a bus is an adventure I don't even want to think about!


There were lots of old trains and horse drawn carriages, but here's the kicker...(get it...I crack myself up.) Out of 10 carriages, 1 was a mare, 1 was a gelding, and 8 were stallions. All together, standing in lines, no problems. Hmmm...

We spent a good hour listening to an acapella (Spelling?) singing group, we saw tons of old steam trains from the 1800's and LOTS of painting of a young Fidel. I thought they were of Bob Marley but Jim clued me in...

Then last, we stopped at a hotel/dance club (The Mill ochociento trenta, aka 1830) and watched real live honest Cubans dancing. It was hot! Just like that movie, Havana Nights? With Nick Nolte and Vanessa Williams and a really Hot Cuban guy! I digress...

And Ita was with us the whole time, in her bag or walking with us. She was very good.

BTW, when you come to Cuba, ALWAYS bring your own toilet paper, and seat covers are a good idea since there are no seats on any of the toilets. The fancy hotels have nice ladies in the rest rooms who give you 3 squares of TP in exchange for a tip.

Well, that's my quick summary of Cuba. Go if you can, and bring enough cash!
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Re: How's it coming with the main sail?


Plans change with the wind....

I will be there, but exactly how, I'm not sure. Here's the plan as of now...

We got the sail and headed straight for Florida. A piece of the rod rigging broke, so we had to go into Cuba for emergency repair. It's pretty cool, but as it wasn't on our planned route, we don't have cash to go out and play. Waaaa. But it is allowing Jim to go up the rig and do a McGiver repair to take us the last 90 miles to Key West.

We will be leaving here as soon as we get a weather window, which means we should be in Key West by the 20th-ish. Then Jim rents a car and goes to Miami to get a replacement piece. I think I stay in KW to guard the boat. Then we may move the boat north.

Soo, the long and the short of it is Yes, plan on meeting me somewhere in FL by car when you arrive. Check the blog for details. It's all there. I promise I'll post something too instead of just Jim.

PS Tell Dad I've finally gone somewhere he hasn't!!! HA!

Love you


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I've finally gone where my Dad hasn't!!!!

As some of you may know, my Dad and step mom are AVID travelers. They have been all over the world, including the Antartica and USSR before it was open to the West. But, finally, I got him! CUBA! All it took was a busy 2 hours in the middle of the night and the breeze kicking in between us and Key West, and Havana was the place for us to stop so Jim could McGiver a fix so the entire rig won't fall down. (Sorry MR.E. I know that's a run on sentence.)

So here's my version/highlights of what's gone on for the last few days.

Mast: It was a beautiful night, 3/4 moon. We came off a big wave, TWANG...intermediate rod rigging broke. Scurry around, Jib in, Main down, motor on. I get to sleep for 4 hours because Jim's too worried about the mast coming down.

Next am, haul Jim up the mast to put up a quick fix. Motor slowly along coast of Cuba, which is beautiful BTW. Wind comes up, so we opt to go into Havana to put up a more substantial repair.

Go through Customs. As Latin American countries go, it was easy. Everyone we needed to clear with was right there. The dock was good. People knew what they were doing. Everyone asked for a tip on the sly, but as we had no cash, they went untipped. Then motored 5 min over to Hemingway Marina.

From what we've seen, you can tell that Marina Hemingway used to be beautiful. Facilities are great, hotels with pools, lots of lawn. But now its a little rough. The Men's head has been broken for 4 years, so everyone shares the ladies. 6 stall, 3 work, no seats. 6 sinks, 1 works. Haven't tried the showers yet. Hotels are a little blocky, and they have beautiful fountains with no water in them. We are tied side to a good concrete dock, but it allows for a TON of people to come by say hello, offer services like laundry, repairs, diesel, taxi, money laundering...

So that's it up to now. Ita is loving land, but after 3 weeks in boat jail in the Caymans, she is totally ok with the boat. The last passage was a piece of cake for her.

I'll have more details on the rest of Cuba after we have more experience. We are safe and happy.

Love to All, and NA NA NA BOO BOO to my Dad!


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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tied up in Marina Hemingway. Now what??

Well, we made it through the check in process.

First the doctor comes with rubber gloves (that scared me) and a facemask to make sure we were "ok". Then agriculture to make sure we didn't bring the wrong food, then the harbor master, then immigration, then customs and finally we were free to tie up in our marina spot where we were greeted by no less than 7 people that wanted to pitch their services to us! Holy cow, I just need a nap!

But, a request first.

What should we go see in Havana?? We are six miles away from downtown. Have done no research on Cuba since we were not planning to visit and now here we are.

What are the don't miss things that we should not miss??

Please leave comments on the blog they are sent to us automatically.



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Greetings fromHavana!

The night went well and the wind dropped to make the trip much easier on the mast and jury rig repair. We are just a few miles outside Marina Hemingway now at 8:30am and should be safely tied up to the clearance dock within the next hour or so.

We expect the clearing in process to be interesting...

More later.


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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mast still up. Heading for Havana - slowly

It's 830pm and the rig is still up. Its been an interesting day. The forecast was for SE breeze around 10 knots, and we had that long enough to think we were home free and to set up a jury rig repair via a combination of Gibb and Scott Easom's suggestions. (thanks to both of those guys for their help and suggestions!!!)


The wind decided to throw us a curve ball and build to 20+ out of the NE!! So much for the "lee" of Cuba. Instead Cuba became a lee shore. Not so good. 20 knots against us while riding a 2 knot current in the direction of our travels made for a miserably bumpy ride. We throttled way back to only 2.5 knots through the water and tried to minimise the banking through waves, but if you go too slow then you start wallowing back and forth side to side and the mast doesn't like that either.

Not good, but conditions seem to be moderating a bit with sunset. We will hope so anyway and hopefully have a good report for you in the morning.


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Alls Well - It's a contest to see who can design the best jury rig repair

We really lucked out here.

1- The leeward shroud broke, not the windward one. We could have lost the mast.

2 - The conditions were calm with flat seas and a full moon, so we could figure out what broke and react quickly.

3 - The moon was bright so we could see.

4 - We have an oversized mast designed to be extra strong because we were crossing oceans with our kids onboard.

5 - It happened at midnight and we are used to bad things at midnight!!

So, we are motoring along with over 100 miles to go to Hemingway Marina near Havana. The conditions have only improved with flat seas and wind now down to 5 knots in the lee of the island.

We have nothing but time on our hands now until we arrive. So, it's a contest! To all of my sailing friends. Design and describe the best jury rig repair for us to install once we arrive at the marina. I have ton's of spectra/vectran line onboard. Lot's of extra blocks, etc. What should I do??

Leave a comment with your suggestion here on the blog and we'll announce the winner and send pictures of the repair tomorrow!!!



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Monday, March 14, 2011

Houston - We have a problem. All's ok.

As we hardened up in 8-10 knots last night on stbd tack our 2nd intermediate shroud between the 1st and 2nd spreaders broke. It was on the "loose" side so the mast was/is fine. Have dropped all sail and are motoring in towards the lee of Cuba where we hope to find flat water and calm winds. Will motor East until we find a protected place to make temp repairs or will go to Hemmingway Marina and figure out if Cuba knows how to make rod rigging.



PS> Everybody is fine.

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Hello Cuba!!

Well, we are just off the Western corner of Cuba! Just outside the 12.5 mile limit and at 10pm I fear that we may sail by and never actually see Cuba. Too bad as I would have liked to visit. Perhaps next time...

Lot's of traffic to dodge and pay attention to. Gotta go.


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All's Well

75 miles South of Cuba and beginning to feel the effects of the Yucatan Channel currents. A huge volume of water funnels through the space between Cuba and Mexico and we will gain the benefit of as much as 4 knots of current in the direction we are traveling. The speed assist is good, the unfortunate part may be that with the current traveling against the wind the wave conditions may be "uncomfortable". We will see, but for now all is good.

Winds have been slightly stronger (17-20) than forecast and ENE rather than E and ESE.


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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why is that bilge pump coming on so often??

That was the question that Debbie asked me yesterday afternoon a few hours after our departure. Once again we had escaped the clutches and safety of a nice marina and were back on our way North!

I told Deb it was probably just the result of the little bit of rain we'd had early in the day, but she countered with "This is the third time its come on in 5 minutes!". Humm...that's not normal.

I stuck my head below to take a look and right away heard a strange whooshing noise from up forward. The forward hatch was cracked open and gallons of water were rushing below with each wave!! Not good!

It turns out that after passing the rolled up dinghy below to Deb through the hatch, I had "dogged" it closed with all four latches. But...Deb had not seen that and assumed it was still unlocked. So, she carefully unlocked all four handles!!

Ultimately no harm done. Although she has a very wet bed and that is sin number one around here in her book!!

Conditions are as forecast. Winds of about 12-16 knots just North of East. Lots of East to West current though that is keeping us sailing pretty close to the wind and therefore living life at a 30 degree angle.

Beautiful day! We are both hoping to make it all the way to Key West, but will let the weather determine whether or not that is a good idea.

Enjoy your Sunday,


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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Leaving Roatan, Honduras today!!

Best Pictures from Roatan, Honduras

Bigger is not always better

I just don't get it.

If you want to be anti social, stay on the boat all day, watch tv all night, and run all of your "hey, look at me lights", why not just stay home??  And, while I'm at it, why is it that you feel the need to run your diesel generator 24 hours a day to power all that crap, while others in the marina are trying to sleep!

Guess it's good to be you, huh??

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Departure Plans

Morpheus docked at Barefoot Cay, Roatan, Honduras
With any luck it looks like things may fall in place for a departure this Sat. AM.  We've seen Roatan, all boat projects are done, and the weather is looking good.  Destination unknown at this point.  Maybe Cozumel, maybe Key West.  Will be great to be out sailing again!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Morpheus Panama Canal (better late than never)

Morpheus - Panama Canal - Dec 2010 from Jim Gregory on Vimeo.

I've finally been able to pull all the photo's and video together from three or four cameras to put this video together.

Yes, it's a bit long, but if you have 9 minutes and watch  it you will probably have a pretty good idea of what it's like to go through the canal.  It was an amazing couple of days!!

If you are interested, there is no better book to read about the canal and its construction than  "The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914" by David McCullough