2nd April 2023
Georgetown, Grand Cayman – Cienfuegos, Cuba via Bonnies Arch, Grand Cayman
In the 80’s in the UK naughty little kids* waited up for the ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ on the TV. There was always a twist, and sometimes the twist was that, there was no twist.
Our first twist without a twist was a diving on a site called Bonnies Arch. Leaving Fiona on deck, Iain and Horst descended into the underwater world and there, just as the title would suggest was a huge coral arch. Every inch of the arch was covered in fragile coral and every nook and cranny housed fish of every colour and size, while underneath it was a Cayman Statue; aptly named Bonnie! Just as expected this was Bonnies Arch
Leaving the arch behind us we explored sand chutes where tarpon hid in the shadows and coral walls that were an eruption of colour. The seabed was varied in the extreme and the walls gave way to towering coral bommies that sprung out of the sandy seabed attracting different fish with vastly different behaviours. Thankfully, with air running low, our plan was executed to perfection, as high above us we found Ruffian waiting for us and an expectant Fiona waiting on to bow.
While diving we are always looking at time and back on Ruffian we also had our eyes on the clock. Our visas were running out and we hoped that a package which was racing across the Atlantic would clear customs before the visa clock ran out. Thinking he might be able to give the package an advantage, Iain, in the searing midday sun, shod in flip flops and with only a road map to guide him sought out the DHL office and its incumbent customs officer.
Expecting bureaucracy, bills and a brick wall, he was in for a bit of a twist, instead found smiles, admiration (for his walk) and a customs officer who knew our package intimately. Unfortunately, the package was still showing in transit and it wasn’t in the DHL office, but it had been delivered by hand to the port authority, by this very lady just hours before. The package had won and a bigger twist was about to happen. Unplanned and unexpected, we were off to Cuba.
Everything was lining up for a classic Ruffian sail to another Caribbean country. The relentless north easterly trade winds had turned east, their force had reduced and the seas magically disappeared. It was almost as if we were being invited offshore and so offshore we went.
In the light winds Ruffian slid along and for the first offshore trip this year Iain’s breakfasts, lunches and dinners didn’t decorate the deck. Night after night the sun gave us spectacular shows which were only surpassed by those of the morning and our final morning was going to be a real surprise.
We’d planned the passage so we would arrive at the entrance to Cienfuegos at dawn and just as the sun was waking, its first rays hit 1000’s of unlit fishing boats all plying their trade. Like Moses parting the Red Sea, Ruffian pushed on and the fishing boats silently dipped their oars into the water clearing a path for us.
With the lack of engine noise, we knew we were in a very different country and we were told this in big words on the guard station. Cuba was socialist and the guardsman with his big gun and watchful eyes was telling us this.
Thinking that entering a ‘communist’ country would entail a world of paperwork, Ruffian was tied up and as we were ushered into the immigration office we prepared for a long official wait. The twist here was the immigration officer charmed us, he was genuinely pleased to see us and then, to the echo of his stamps still bouncing off the walls he welcomed us to the country. This was the final twist in ‘Tales of the Unexpected’.
* Well Iain did!
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