Georgetown

We had a two day trip to the Cayman Islands, a bit bumpy with a tropical wave off Mexico causing a brisk easterly.

Once we reported in we were told to go to Georgetown to clear in.

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There were two cruise ships in but it was soon done. After that we went round to North Sound, entered the reef and then followed the channel to the marina.

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We returned to Georgetown later, walked most of the way from the marina. It was nice but a typical cruise liner port, loads of jewellery, cigars and liquor shops. Had a nice lunch over looking the harbour.

Departing Cuba

Our departure was delayed a couple of days as ‘Colin’, a tropical depression was causing a bit of bad weather. For us it caused very heavy rain which pinned us on the boat. Eventually it cleared and we went round to the officials berth and cleared out. We all enjoyed our time in Cuba, the people were helpful & friendly, the officials polite & efficient.

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Market

We found this square and had lunch, Cuban Sandwich and a beer.

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Then had a walk round the flea market. It was mostly the same sort of things you would see at a flea market in the UK. Toys, household goods, widgets, costume jewellery and old LPs.

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Lots of old cameras.

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Plus books and posters. It was the only place we saw revolutionary posters.

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Havana Buildings

The taxi dropped us off at the edge of the old Spanish quarter. It was Saturday and the town was very busy with both tourists and the locals.

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The cathedral, built in 1776. There were very strict on dress standards and had a guard who would hand out large green sheets to cover up with.

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Something newer.

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Havana

We caught a taxi into Havana driving through the embassy zone on the way. The minimum speed was 80 km/hr through the zone. This made taking photos a bit more challenging.

The Russian Embassy:

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There were plenty of statues from the Spanish period.

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Havana’s importance to the Spanish was clearly demonstrated by all the forts

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The Old Man and His Boat, Havana Harbour in the background.

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Cars in Cuba

The cars were a good mix with quite a few modern ones, a lot of Lada models and the old pre-revolution cars. Here is a selection of photos for your enjoyment:

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The dark blue one had a Toyota sign on the boot?

Not sure what this is:

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or this:

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at the marina:

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And to finish an old Austin, never knew they made left hand drive models

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Cuba

We left Key West at 0300 as the next port was a good 12 hours away and we wanted to arrive in daylight. Private vessels are not allowed in Havana so we headed for Marina Hemingway a little to the west of Havana.

Through the entrance and passing the maritime police office. The locals happy to see us.

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Looking down the channel. We tied up to the customs berth, formalities were quickly done and the officials were friendly, courteous and efficient. Not long after we headed to our berth.

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Colourful

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The marina was built pre-revolution. While we were there a tremendous amount of work was being done for a game fishing competition with 140 odd boats expected. There is three canals like this one. A supermarket, a couple of restaurants, cigar and liquor shop and a ship supply grocer. Local beer and liquor was very cheap.

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Electrical supply was good but we had to go to a local hotel to get wifi. The marina has the hardware but no connection. The staff were very helpful.

The hotel pool, we were initially discouraged by the $10 fee to use the pool but later found out that included all the food and drink you wanted.thumb_DSC00811_1024

Key West

Next was a day trip down the Keys to Key West. Our first port of call after we left Longboat Key in April 2015. Always a great place to visit, lively and interesting.

This time we walked down to the southern tip of the continental USA:

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A telephone cable ran from this point to Cuba and the first international call was made through that cable.

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The locals were not bothered by all the activity.

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Street scene:

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A beautiful Flame Tree

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Seven Mile Bridge

The next day we walked south along Highway 1 to seven mile bridge. On the right is the new bridge.

The old bridge was built 1908 – 1912 for a railway line but converted to road traffic in 1935.  At the time it was the longest bridge in the world. The new bridge was built in 1982.

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The old bridge had a swing section for boat traffic, the new bridge has a raised section to allow continuous boat traffic. The old swing section was removed but the bridge itself left as a walkway.

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Turtle Hospital

In Marathon we walked up Highway 1 to the Turtle Hospital and did the guided tour. An impressive place, the tour educational and the turtles very viewable.

They deal with a wide range of problems including human caused such as boat impacts, ingesting debris and fouling by ropes / nets but also natural ones as well.

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Floating is caused by gas build up in the shell which then makes it difficult for the turtle to dive for food or to avoid danger. They referred to the condition as ‘bubblebutt’.  It could be the result of illness or injury such as a boat strike.

The fix is to fit weights to the shell as below on Sam.  Unfortunately the shell outer coat is not permanent and  eventually the weight will fall off. The hospital has a number of these turtles that they will have for the remainder of the turtle’s life as they can’t survive in the wild once the weight falls off. They can live over 80 years so that’s some care.

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They have a very good surgery with heated table, x-ray facility and a team of vets who volunteer their time.

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Individual tanks for turtles needing frequent treatment. As they improve they can be moved to the larger tanks and then into a caged area in the sea in preparation for release.

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This turtle was in for ingestion of foreign objects which eventually get impacted. The hospital has treatment program for this developed through experience which includes edible oils and metamucil to assist in passing the debris.

They are opportunity feeders and will eat anything that floats in front of them. They are very firm about not putting your hands in the pools as you are likely to be bitten.

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Turtles are difficult to deal with, surgery can only be done through the natural openings in the shell which does not leave a lot of room. The shell does not heal so it can’t be cut to allow surgery. Surgery is a last resort.

Once treated and cured they are released back into the sea.

It is a great facility but needs support. Here is their website where you can learn more about them and, if you wish, also make a donation.

http://www.turtlehospital.org/