Saturday dawned calm and peaceful although the day before was very windy with high seas. The seas laid down for us and the wind direction was good as we started our journey home. Leaving the marina at the same time as us was "ZeeZot" a sailboat from the Netherlands with Joop and Albertien on board. They were heading to the Dominican Republic via the Bahamas.
ZeeZot leaves marina Darsena, heading for the Bahamas
We, of course were heading further north on a course to enter the gulf stream and ease into it's point of greatest current.
Pioneer leaves Marina Darsena - glad to be free of the smoke from the burning sugar cane fields
We started out close hauled until we entered the gulf stream and then it was a beam reach to a broad reach for the rest of the trip. The highest speed over ground for us was 11.3 knots, the entire trip we averaged 7.2 knots. Too bad the gulf stream doesn't switch and flow south in the fall!! Our original plan was to get to Charleston, South Carolina, but we soon decided that we would brave the possible 35-40 kt. squalls that were predicted in order to try to make Beaufort, North Carolina. It was quite amazing out there riding along in the gulf stream. There were squalls all around us, but none on top of us - just clear skies in the day and stars and a moon at night - so we were able to sail all the way from Varadero, Cuba to Beaufort, North Carolina - 110 hours, 800 miles, 5 days and 4 nights - our longest trip yet. The good luck statue that Mario gave us, Babaloa, did an admirable job of keeping us safe.
Since we entered the Beaufort Inlet in the dark, we dropped anchor near the coast guard station and went over the next morning to the Beaufort Docks for our official check in to the USA. The check in went quickly and without any problems. We decided to stay in Beaufort that night because the water was too low at Minnesott to get in the channel to Wayfarers Cove. We enjoyed exploring the Maritime Boat Museum at Beaufort and really enjoyed our first meal in months at a good restaurant!
One of the displays at the Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC
The next day Tom, our dockmaster at Wayfarers, said that we could probably get into the marina as the water level had come up quite a bit overnight and during the morning. There was only one bad part that we would have to get towed over and that was the very narrow entrance channel.
Pioneer enters the narrow entrance channel just before we went hard aground!
We made it with some help from Tom and Joe, Charlie and Shirley. We had just enough time to get tied up and cleaned up and then we were off to a party at Ashley and Carol's where we met up with several of our old friends.
Dinner party at Ashley and Carol's
Charlie savours the Cuban cigar we brought back for his birthday
The next night it was off to Rex and Carol's for drinks and dinner and then back again the next night for ribs along with Bill and Cindy. Just to keep us on our toes, we went to another party the next night at Debbie and Dick's. There we met up with other boaters that we knew well, Dave and Donna on Magic and Bill and Sue on Nice N' Easy. We finally took a few nights off before we were out again with Perry and Susan. Meanwhile, during the days we are touching up the teak on Pioneer and researching the list of things that we want to purchase before we cruise again next year.
Ron presents his new import plan - no more black velvet - it's Cuban art now!
A close-up of our favourite picture!
Cindy, Judy and Carol relax at "Rib Night" at the Horne's
It's party time once again at Dick and Debbie's
Relaxing at the Tiki Bar in Oriental with Perry and Susan
Good friend, Ed Manini, at the Tiki Bar in Oriental
Susan and Judy at the Tiki Bar
This year was a special one for us. We came to appreciate Pioneer more than we ever have and have therefore decided not to sell her. Next year we may start to consider more ocean travel after all, that is what she was designed for!
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