Final Weeks in Cuba and the Return Home





Pioneer at dock in Varadero




Our final weeks in Cuba had us spending time cleaning Pioneer’s hull and generally preparing for the long voyage home (at least we hoped it would be long!). 


Ron using a “hooka” style compressor and regulator, scrapes the barnacles off Pioneer’s hull







Judy’s turn to blast off those barnacles!





Life around the marina continued to be busy with fishermen going in and out the canal (on the good weather days) and rowers from the local rowing club practicing in the usually calm canal waters.IMGP2203


Fishermen heading out for an overnight expedition



We spent a fair bit of our final weeks in Cuba getting to know with new friends, Juan Carlos and his wife, Yanni.  One day at the market we were on the hunt for peanuts and saw Juan Carlos with a small glass full of roasted peanuts.  Ron asked him where he had bought them and was told that he had roasted them at his home.  Somewhat disappointed,  we headed off into the market to buy our few dollars worth of fruit and vegetables.  IMGP2295However, shortly thereafter, Juan Carlos caught up with us and invited us to his home for some peanuts.  Eventually he persuaded us to go with him and subsequently invited us back to share their noon meal. 


Juan Carlos and his wife, Yanni


That was the beginning of a wonderful friendship.  We ate dinner with them twice at their home and once at a “Paladar” near the marina.  We had several short visits with them in the marina lobby but were not allowed to have them come out to our boat.  When the time came to leave Varadero, Juan Carlos and Yanni were there at the side of theIMGP2313 canal waving goodbye to us at 7:30 in the morning. Since arriving back in the USA we have heard from them by email twice.  Our emails are English and Spanish combined which makes the exchange very interesting.

Carlos and Yanni waving goodbye on the edge of the Paso Malo



The trip home was not as smooth as it had been in previous years.  By motor sailing very close to the wind, we managed to make it around Miami still in the IMGP2336Gulfstream current. 

Ron relaxes while “Auto” (pronounced OTTO) steers Pioneer on her voyage home




Our trip up the Florida coast was swift and fairly uneventful with way too much time without wind!IMGP2341 



With the weather predicted to turn nasty, Ron tops up the fuel tank so we have engine power if needed




As we neared the northern part of Florida, the weather IMGP2344turned very bad and several nasty squalls started to appear. 


An ominous sky looms in the distance and it soon overcame us




We headed towards shore hoping to avoid the potentially high seas out in the stream.  The decision turned out to be a good one.  Close to shore with a west wind we had some protection from the ‘fetch” – the build-up of waves across a large expanse of water.  However, we had to sail through two squalls before we entered the Fernandina Beach Inlet.IMGP2362 


Safe on a mooring ball in Fernandina Beach


We stayed in Fernandina Beach for about a week before we  got another window to head north.  During our wait we experienced an anchored boat dragging far too close to us and the battering of our hull by the mooring ball we were tied up to. On the brighter side we spent IMGP2365time with friends Dave and Kathy on Dyad who were anchored not too far from us.



Dyad – a most unique and comfortable home on the water



Finally, we we found a short weather window that we hoped would get us to Beaufort but at least to the Cape Fear River.IMGP2371 


Heading out the Fernandina Beach Inlet on our last leg home (we hoped)





However, with building seas and a poor wind angle we were IMGP2383forced, as we were last year, to head up the Cape Fear River and anchor the night at Wrightsville Beach where we sat out an overnight storm. 


Sunset en route to the Cape Fear River




The next morning we we had a vigorous sail to Beaufort where we dropped anchored off the coast guard station just as the sun was setting .  The next day we were able to make it back to WayfarersIMGP2415 Cove (our home marina) off the Neuse River. 

Rough water and the US Navy as we close in on Beaufort Inlet



We had about five weeks at Wayfarers to get our clean-up IMGP2426and teak work done before we headed off to Canada, the long way around, through Texas and Arizona.


Safely back at Wayfarers – washing down the sails!


On a calm day our sails get good drying time


Judy completes the annual teak “touch-up”


The teak screens need some TLC every five years




Before we headed back to Canada, there was lots of time to socialize with cruising and ex-cruising friends in Minnesott and in Oriental.  Its About Time and Nice and Easy met us in Oriental and then we expanded the afternoon to include Dick and Judy and many other cruising friends.





Sally & Conrad, Dick & Judy and Judy in Oriental


Dave (Dyad), Bentley & Jim (Salty Paws) entertain outside The Bean, in Oriental

While in Minnesott, we often house-sit for friends who need some vacation time.  We have often IMGP2669looked after Bill and Cindy’s house and their cat while they take some needed R & R.  This summer, their new cat “Buddy” was quite a lot of fun.  He is the first cat we have encountered that could actually play “fetch”!

Buddy lets Judy know he is very ready for dinner!




Finally, two days before leaving for Canada, Pioneer is hauled out and set on land to dry out for the summer.  But not before Ron gets the “ultimate” picture of her stern! IMGP2685


Look carefully and you will see Ron and a turtle in this reflection!






Onto the hard for the summer….






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