AfterBlue Sailaway

Miami Bound

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Log Book: Miami - Florida - June 2, 2004

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June 1st found us sailing homeward at last! As we picked our way north to Havana, we kept hearing these American voices on the VHF that made homesickness rear its head. After 3 weeks in this beautiful but politically frustrating country, it was the final straw that sent us back to America. It was literally a 30-minute decision, with Maciek suggesting that we were in the perfect place to move the tiller about 4 inches and head back to the States. Wind was favorable, we were at the point of shortest distance and we really had had enough of Cuba's over-protective coast guard antics. I concurred, since I figured I had seen enough of the culture to satisfy me for a few months at least, and I consoled myself with the thought that perhaps next year I could fly in to Havana on one of their fantastic package deals, pick up a boat and crew myself and head on adventures of my own. There was a lot of that fantastic dreaming going on that little sailboat.

Once decided, Maciek reset the course and we were headed home!! Ahhh! Had any crossing ever been so slow? To pass the time, we splurged on batteries and used the radio so we could pick up more sounds from home then ate the last two boxes of Kraft dinner (though half moldy) to celebrate.

As dawn approached and the lights on the water coalesced into visible ships and sailboats, we sighted land. Having repeatedly radioed the coast guard with no response, we headed straight to Key Largo. The sweltering heat and the inability to bathe in water so clogged with water craft made us impatient to reach a safe harbor and some modern conveniences. Namely a shower. Randy and Nancy were going to be our first stop, since they had been the last to see Maciek and then-first mate Johannes back in December.

Unfortunately, we hadn't counted on immigration protocol (obviously not having learned anything in Cuba!) and learned, once within sight of Key Largo, that we had to go to Miami to check in. Groan! The shower had to be delayed yet again... and so once more we hauled anchor and headed the 80 miles north to Miami. Tobi took the tiller for a couple hours and perhaps due to the humidity of the day or the numbness of being awake for so long, she mistook a pillar out at sea as the markers that were supposed to guide us to Angelfish Cut leading to the ICW. It was only a few degrees off course, so how could she have known that it marked the most dangerous coral reef out there! Captain Mac woke from sleep in time to realize the danger of the situation and took the tiller immediately, ordering our navigationally-challenged girl to the bow. It was pretty freaky to visually guide the boat through the masses of coral mere feet below the keel but we got her through in the end, though it cost us about a month's worth of sweat.

Peace came when we at last we entered the Cut and the friendly coral-free ICW. It was a beautiful and still night, with mangroves fronting huge mansions in what looked like a millionaire’s complex, with fences of water and docks for driveways.

Next morning we finally get a hold of the Coast guard, who, when we call and tell them we're inbound from Cuba, make it to the marina before I can get off the phone! Four young guys who were incredibly nice (kudos to Miami Immigration!) checked us out and confiscated the forgotten moldering mango buried under the lifejackets and the rest of the lifeless produce that made it across the passage with us. We checked under the boat for the Remora that had been following us for at least 12 hours since we left Cuba but she had dropped off somewhere previously.

It was all... so... odd. The world we left and the one we entered were so diametrically different that the first day back in America pretty much left us shell-shocked. The Miami marina we rested in for a couple of hours before heading out was like any other, having showers and water and access to shops galore, but to us it seemed extravagantly overdone. Our last contact with culture as we knew it was probably Georgetown, hundreds miles, 2 months and another world away. We had gotten used to conserving every last drop of water, to getting by on nothing but essentials, to showering in the sea and dumping in a bucket. This luxury rocked our world. We got our shower at last and the feeling of fresh water on the salty, dust and sweat-grimed skin was indescribable!

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