Our final destination: Marina Hemingway!
Havanna, on the north coast of Cuba, that´s the place we all look forward to see, where we meet Carol again and where our ways are gonna split apart. Theo will book a flight back to England, Marie (Merles international second name) and I will travel around in Cuba and the boat will continue towards Florida. Terry and Carol plan to be sell it in Fort Lauderdale, north of the 30° latitude because the hurricane season is going to start soon.
But first we have to get there. Living on a small boat together, feeling the limited space and the missing option of escape, is not always easy. Sharing food, a galley (kitchen on a boat) and bathrooms as well as problems that go with life aboard, makes it hard but dwelds us together as a strong crew.
“Problems always have to be on the table!”, that´s the first rule.
Talking about things which go on each others nerves e.g. The nasty smell of the waste tank every time someone flushes the toilet helps to find a solution. We all take turns flushing many buckets of water through for delution. Its much better now!
Political problems are not as easyly solved: Basicly, our Captain Terry is a complete opponent to us when it comes to exchanging opinions about any kind of topic. His view of the world is determined by his career as a banker. A solid right wing, anarchistic attitude and the focus on “where the money is”, builds the foundation for almost every argument. Theo, Marie and I almost disagree automatically once he starts talking. As open minded, socialists and left oriented thinkers, we share a strong feeling of hope, integrity and the goodness of people in our somewhat corroded world. There is no way we could agree with a pessimistic, discriminating and nationalized course of politics. Eventhough we are aware ot the fact that no argument will suddenly change a successfull, grown mans opinion, it is always worth to speak up for ones own beliefs.
” If You Are Not a Socialist at 25, You Have No Heart. If You Are Not a Conservative at 35 You Have No Brain “, (Winston Churchill, and many people before)
Opinions could not diverge any more contradictory. No matter which topic, let it be integration of refugees, eating animals, religion or global politics, there will be discussion on the boat! Absolutely accepting each other, it is always fascinating to hear the exact opposite point of your own view, in such a serious way. Freedom of speach, the right of an own opinion in our western world and the effect of discussion become even more clear while listening to arguments of such a different world.
Discussion does not always lead to a consensus, but there will never be consensus without the exchange of opinions!
As much as we throw around bad words in the boat, speaking about sailing, we all pull on one string! There is a great exchange of sailing knowledge, constructive thinking about trimming the sails and important decisions are always made considering everyones interest. Tolerating each others freedom is how we all get along very well on Common Sense. All of us learned a lot from each other on this trip.
Back on the Atlantic another guest accompanied us in the boat. “Hammy”, the cured leg of a pig, Terry had bought in Spain for his daily meat portion. Once he had cut the last flesh of the bone we used the wooden ham-holder to built a selfsteering bottle ship.There was a lot of time to put thought and a peace-message in the glass jar carryed by the little sailboat. Maybe a nice person will find it and write us a mail, if it ever reaches a shore. Or maybe it wont survive the next storm, sink down to the oceans ground and totally decompose without ever seeing any land…
The last two days of our whole journey to Cuba are the hardest. Storm with gusts over 50 knots and a choppy sea scratch on our last strengths. We reach the harbour entrence in the morning hours. It is still dark. Eventhough it had calmed down a little, breaking waves on the shore still cover the streetlights of the beachwalk. Terry knows the exact coordinates of the first boye which leads into the narrow channel between the reefs.
The whole crew on deck, shining spotlights to the sides, Terry steers the boat carefully from one boye to the other. All of us can hear the crashing noise of huge waves breaking just a boat-length to the left and the right of us. It is f***** scary! But our Captain stays cool. Finally we see the first lights of the marina entrence.
We tye up to a long concrete dock, smell the warm tropical air and give each other big hugs.
“Yeah, we are in Cuba now! We made it!”
Suddenly relaxation sets in. All the exhaustion of the challenging last days is washed away. The boat is a mess
Before we can even touch the land, three Cuban officers stand next to the boat. Very politely they start to ask questions about our travel and tell us to stay on the boat until somebody else comes for our registration. After a quickly tidying up the boats cockpit there is just enough room for him to sit down and help us with filling out forms for visa , custom declaration and boat registration.
Now two of us at a time are allowed to leave the boat. The first steps on solid ground feel weird – the land seems to be shaking and everything is moving under the feet. After tumbeling to a nearby office we meet another friendly guy who takes our fingerprints and biometrical photos.
Daylight shines by the time everything is well organized, registered. Now we are allowed to find ourselves a free spot in channel No 4 of ´Marina Hemmingway. Right next to us lies a beautifull wooden sailboat with a hammock and some guys sleeping on the deck.