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Saturday, February 20, 2016

When & If ~ Cuba??

The "When and If"
This blog update starts off from the next upcoming blog! Confused? A few days ago, we did a dry run to the dock area to find the Appledore and Jeff. Jeff sold the tickets for our sail around Key West. I struck up a conversation with Jeff about going to Cuba. It was on my bucket list. What developed from the conversation proved to be very interesting. His son, Seth, is Captain on the schooner “When & If”, which is going to Cuba in late March. They will be taking six passengers along with a crew of four. Jeff gave us his son’s business card and location of the “When & If” over at the Stock Island Marina. We biked back over to Trumbo Point for lunch and you know the conversation was on a sailing trip to Cuba.
After lunch, our curiosity got the best of us and off we went in search of the schooner. I drove into the marina and parked the truck. The marina has hundreds of sail boats, but, to our luck, right there along the main dock was the “When & If”. A young male person walked by us and jumped onto When & If! I asked, “Are you Seth”? “No”, he said, but “He’s onboard”. I mentioned the Cuba trip and soon we were talking to the young Captain Seth. He explained the details of the trip, from the legality of the trip to accommodations.
A little about the “When & If”: Built in 1939 for General George Patton to sail around the world “When the War is over, and If I survive”.
Anchored at Stock Island Marina
When and If has just undergone a two-year restoration and is open to the public for the first time this summer.
Designer: John G. Alden
Year: 1939
Length On Deck: 63ft
Length Overall: 80ft
Beam: 15ft
Draft: 9ft
Sail Area 1,700 sq. ft
"When the war is over and If I survive"
Just walking on the “When and If" was inspiring. I would have not, in my entire life, thought or dreamt that I would have walked the same deck as the famous WWII General. He didn’t get to sail around the world with his wife Bee, but did sail on the “When and If" before the war. For those of you who did not know, General George Patton was killed in a vehicle accident in Germany, after the war.
Captain Seth told us that we should change our American dollars into either Euros or Canadian dollars. American dollars are exchanged in Cuba at 13%. We have our passports and a Visa is available as we enter Cuba. Until recently, when Americans entered the country, the Cuban Customs would give Americans a paper stating that they entered Cuba legally. Today, with relaxed regulations, Americans can get their passport stamped without a problem coming back into the United States. It is still not 100% travel free restriction.
The trip down there would be a ten day trip, give or take, depending on the weather. At the end of March, the winds change from Northeast to the Easterlies, favorable for a good fast return to Key West, Fl. On the other hand, if the winds are still northeast the return trip would be slower. Normally going down to Cuba is about an 18 hour sail. On a return trip, the last time they made a nearly record 8 hour return trip.
At The Helm
Now comes the not so positive aspect of the trip. The cost and even worse…”The Obama Visit”. Yes, President Obama plans to visit Cuba on March 20th and the 21st. We would be leaving on the 28th. Knowing Obama, he will screw something up and could possibly effect our entry into Cuba or for that matter our return.
The cost per person for the sail is $2,200 per person. We could stay on board the “When and If" while there, but there is no A/C onboard and it could get buggy at times. Capt. Seth said that we could get a hotel room for $100 a night or rent a house for $300 a night. We could easily run up a $6,000 bill for just wanting to cross off a check mark on my bucket list!
The trip is not dead yet! I will keep options open and see if the “When and If" has its six passengers before sailing. Things will work out one way or another. As I always say, “We are in a canoe going down a river without paddles. Let’s see where it brings us”!
Captain Seth also mentioned that we would be going into three or four other ports in Cuba including Hemingway’s port of call.

That is what we saw and did!

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