We had an extensive discussion with a young dissident who was in charge of the marina that night. He had full empathy for the situation we were in, but explained the position I’d be putting all the employees in if I were to ignore their rules and take off with my crew to the anchorage (which I was all set to do as soon as I caught the first whiff of hassle, but then my crew intercepted, worried that his American citizenship may send the officials tattle-tailing, to the American government at a time where you're considered a terrorist if you step foot within the communist country). The marina employees would be held responsible, they would all face being fired and would lose their $20/month, and in some cases $10/month. This young fellow, I wish I could remember his name, went out of his way to get permission that provided my crew with a 1-night pass to stay on board the boat, provided I stay at the marina until morning. This all sounds so ridiculous looking back on it, coming from a free country. Why should it be such a circus to allow a crewmember to stay overnight on my own private boat? What right did they have to tell us ‘no’, and to put me in a decision to decide between my crew and the safety of my boat?
Having resigned ourselves to the fact that we weren’t going anywhere, we pulled out what was to be our last bottle of Cuban rum, and passed it around while chatting with a couple of the local fishermen and watching the light show on the distant horizon.
It was a long, sleepless night, much of which I was on deck, kicking the fenders back between the boat and the concrete, as they constantly popped out of place as the boat bucked violently in the swell. I had extra dock lines made-off to various cleats across the dock, and whenever one would break, I’d throw on another one, and do the best to splice (repair) the broken one as quickly as possibly. I had made matters worse for myself by having more than my share of the bottle of rum, but after dealing with that over the port side of the boat, I eventually came to my own peace with the situation. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say I was in pretty good spirits as I leaned against the cabin in the pouring cold rain at 4am with one foot ready to kick the next fender that popped up at my face.
In true Cuban style, when rolled around, with no further ado and my crew below half asleep, his passport was handed over and we were told we could leave. They didn’t need to come aboard, or speak to him, or even see him, and I never did see Immigration. We got ready to cast off, and the fisherman and the dissident were there to see us off.
Three hours later we were reunited with Road to the Isles and Bacchanal in Cayos de la Lena. We sailed under a reefed main around the mangroves and into the narrow canal, rounded up into the wind and dropped the hook, congratulated by the cheers of our friends. It was an emotional moment, and the ensuing sleep was deep and well earned.