2 April 2017 – Recreational boats are not usually allowed in Havana Harbor, but the 60 boats that came from Key West with the rally were invited to participate in the largest boat parade in the Harbor in Cuban history.
Dreamtime is dressed and ready to go.
We left Marina Hemingway in mid morning along with everyone else. Cuba is very serious about customs and usually when you leave the marina by boat, you are supposed to stop and get inspected to confirm who is on the boat and you don’t have any stowaways.
Because 60 boats were leaving and later arriving en masse they modified the procedure and as we did a slow pass by the customs dock we had to shout out the boat name and number of people on board. If the number you shouted out did not agree with the paperwork from you cleared in, you had to stop and sort it out. We yelled out our boat name and “cuatro” (holding up 4 fingers – in case they couldn’t understand our attempt at Spanish), and they waved us through.
We made our way to the location where all the participating boats were to meet up.
We had been assigned position numbers based on alphabetical by boat builder, so the radio was busy as people tried to figure out what boat they were supposed to be behind or before. Amazingly it all worked out and we were queued in our proper position for the start of the parade.
Residents lined up along the Malecon to wave and cheer to the boats as we passed by.
The coolest experience we had was when a trumpet player played the United States National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, in celebration of our visit. (Sorry the photo and video did not turn out)
This was our first boat parade, and while the 3 crew members enjoyed sitting on the foredeck waving back to the crowds, Captain Bob had a less relaxing experience as he had to maintain safe distance from the boat in front as the pace of boats slowed and sped up in fits and starts.
Havana Harbor can be a busy harbor with large ships coming and going. There seemed to always be a cruise ship docked and today was no different.
And then it was time to turn around and head back out of the harbor and the friendly race back to Marina Hemingway commenced.
And some additional photos of the skyline from the water: