AfterBlue Sailaway

Sailing from Cuba back to the States.

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Log Book: Key Largo - Florida - June 1, 2004

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sailing back to Miami

Sailing at night is magical, one of a kind experience. We left Cuba behind and spirited AfterBlue was playing on sunset ignited waters joyfully breathing free air at last. It’s amazing to think that in 27 years of her existence she never left Lake Ontario spending most of her time at the dock and some years not even leaving the yard at all. Where did she come from? Wish I knew. Couple of names “Lindsey” and “Tritan” are all is left from her past. Striped and gutted, she has come a long way nevertheless. In her first season under my hand I took her out to taste some salt waters. I think she likes it. I do too.

Where are we? Oh, yes… leaving Cuba. Day light is failing quickly and waters begin to trip over the skies till they merge into one gray mass and then complete darkness. There was nothing else to do but enjoy smooth sailing on surprisingly calm seas moved along by lively breeze.

We are relieving each other at the tiller every two - three hours. Shortly after 2 a.m. I have seen few fishing boats and tried to hail the US Coast Guard on the radio. We are trying to find out if we can check in back to the country in Key Largo where we wanted to stay with our friends. No one is responding.

At some point I picked up a Coast Guard Radio's communiqué about 30 some foot sailboat that was lost somewhere on the reef, requesting everyone in the area to maintain a lookout. This was one of those messages you could hear over and over in your head when you're just about to cross the reef yourself. It was still pitch black all around, with the exception of few faithful stars, crescent of the moon and the lights of commercial ships which I am trying to dodge now and then. Shipping traffic volume seemed to increase significantly and I was wondering if we were being mistaken for the missing boat. One particular ship appeared to try to intercept our little sailboat with swift movements. I tried to get away from the hulk changing my course, tacking and jibing which resulted in waking up my friend Tobi from restless sleep down below. I don't know what exactly was happening with that vessel and her skipper, but close encounter with the ship of proportions of a small town was not what I had in mind for tonight. I' d rather socialize over the radio instead.

The Gulf Stream current at this point was pushing our boat sideways at the speed of about 3kn, something to keep in mind when you try to aim for a brake in the reef. I had prepared exact waypoints on my GPS to aid me in this, but lost my heart to do it in the dark after what I heard on the radio tonight. I turned the boat around and waited for blessed morning.

Daylight came with its usual haste as if it was holding its breath under the seas for too long. The sun popped its gigantic, orange head over the waters like the bright beach ball, causing quite a stir among the birds. We were quite ready to anchor somewhere and rock ourselves to sleep; something these frantic birds would never understand.

The morning of June 1, 2004 was humid and it was baking hot. Oh, yeah, we’re in Florida already. The wind was gone too. What in the world...!? We crept over the reef and drifted slowly towards familiar shape of the Rodriguez Key. Wearing nothing but boxer shorts and a smile I have arrived to Key Largo, Florida, Good ol' US of A. As soon as we dropped the hook I dove in to seek some relief from the heat. Tobi was making an attempt at getting some sleep. Water was soupy but wet enough to wake me up and I made the trip in the dinghy over to the land. I was excited to leave a message for our friends about our arrival and less excited to find out from US Customs that I have to keep going towards Miami, because we can't check in from Cuba in Key Largo. Oh, bother, pants, crap. Miami it will be. I have walked slowly towards my dinghy and looked over my shoulder at the town of Key Largo taking in the sounds and smells, watching longingly at its chilled bars and cafes, visualizing nearby grocery stores filled to brims with yummy food and fresh veggies. I listened awhile to friendly chatter in English, thanked God for this country and jumped into my sailing dinghy to zigzag back to my boat and deliver the news to most beautiful lady with sleepy eyes and Don King style hairdo. What a trooper.

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