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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by FinTec, Feb 27, 2021.
Following along, Great Report! Looking forward to Cuba!
Fin - thanks for your RR. Hope you enjoy your trip to Cuba. Got an equipment question for you.........I know your thoughts about tank bags, but noticed you wearing some type of holster....do you use that to hold your license, passport, cash....etc?
That bag looks very similar to what many european motorcyclists wear; inside are exactly the things you noted above. Many more euro riders wear leathers which typically don't have much in the way of pockets (compared to say a 'stich Roadcrafter).
Great RR Fin! Saw a pic of MO on Jamies RR, what a build. Your talents on impressive display in the airbox alone..
Knobby side down!
Great report! I'm a Canadian who has been to Cuba twice, both great experiences. The friendliest people I have encountered anywhere. Have fun!
The boat has arrived in port of Cienfuegos, Cuba.
Just got a note from Fin, they are stuck on the boat till Wednesday. Covid protocols!
I’m sure they’re happy to finally be in calm waters. The crossing must have been super rough. We had heavy winds and rough seas on the east coast of the Yucatán since they left port.
^^ I’m sure there was a lot of feeding the fish, so they say, along the way
I ll let Fin fill in the details but it sounds like a really rough 5 days and he said he is no sailor. Ha!
And we are back to the web-world.
A lot to catch up on. What I am about to write about will, I suspect, NOT come over well as far as a feel for time. For example, if you spent two weeks in a jail, what would you take pictures of that shows how those two weeks felt when all you have to show are 4 walls. Well, I should not use jail as a metaphor for what we went through, not fare at all. But a good friend of mine has a great quote he uses when we are doing our summer multi-day rides “The adventurous part of a ride kind of sucks while you are IN it. It is only later on, behind that beer, when the stories are being told, that the adventure was amazing”. I am going to go with that analogy of the past 4 days. Very glad we did it, but also glad it is over. So it started like this…..
Leaving the dock at Isla Mujeres the day after we loaded the bikes below. Sun was out, girls on other boats waving, everyone on the boat high-fiving and all smiles. Woohoo, adventure on!
JamieZ and I shared a bunk cube. And here is a shot of the entire lower quarter’s area. Bare bones but totally gets it done.
And this is Captain Ludwig. The man who has been running the show for the last 15+ years on the Stahlratte. A man of many talents and languages. A mix of professional, adventurer, and dash of crazy. He says he can get us to Alderaan.........
There are a total of 16 people on this trip and can be broken down into three groups: 5 are crew. 6 are a group that are staying on the Stahlratte as it cruises around Cuba for the next month. (three more joined this group as we were docked in Cuba in quarantine). And 5 of us are here to ride our motorcycles around the island for the month stay. And a good mix of nationalities: Germans, Mexicans, Americans, and unfortunately one Irishman….me. On this trip I decided to go Irish (I have dual citizenship) to just play it safe. So far it has paid off as Jamie and the other American where asked for special health insurance and all others not.
So let’s take a look at the Furious Five that will be doing their best Isle of Man on Cuba for a month.
First we have the already well known JamieZ. Best thing to do is go to his ride thread here https://advrider.com/f/threads/rtw-the-jamie-z-way-cuba.1478110/page-80#post-41990141 and read all about what he is doing on his amazing trip. This trip is a mere side event for a much bigger adventure he is taking. Jamie’s ride of choice is a Honda CB500.
Next up is Klaus from Playa Del Carmen. Interestingly enough, this is Klaus’s 4th trip to Cuba on the Stahlratte and there was no way he was going to miss the last. Klaus has an amazing history and I am hoping to get him (and the others) on an interview soon. Klaus rides a 2019 BMW 1250GS.
Riding with Klaus as a team is Jorge also from Playa Del Carmen. Super fun guy and was VERY patient with me and my Spanish. And I reciprocated, as his English was at about my level of Spanish. Jorge rides A BMW S1000XR 2016 with essentially no silencer. I told him if I ever want to find out where he is on the island, I'll just shut off my motor and listen.
And then the guy who breaks all the rules and exemplifies adventure riding, Amit from L.A. He is riding a Chinese made for Mexico “2018 Italika VX250”. This is Amit’s first motorcycle…..he bought a month ago….while backpacking in Mexico. He has never owned a motorcycle before and of course never traveled with one. Here Jamie and I are geeking out hardcore on all the trick and cool ADV rider gear we had and proud of our meticulous, if not overdone, planning for this trip. And Amit just buys a bike and shows up. This is going to be good.
And of course myself. Here I am holding the world’s smallest St. Paddies party on March 17th in the middle of the Caribbean. Trust me, it was a feat of will for me to drink a full beer in the picture. But it’s the law on March 17th!
The rest of the ocean trip was a feat of killing time. We even fished off the back and caught three barracudas which were promptly prepped and served for dinner.
After 4 days of this I was done. I am not a sailor and now I know why. But we finally made it to Cienfuegos and the next stage of the big wait begins.
Fin - Didn't realize that your an Irishman!!
Have fun in Cuba & watch out for old Chevys
Erin Go Bragh
The 4 days on the seas was a challenge for me and some others. We pretty much had a head wind the entire time and could only achieve about 4 knots. And the seas where NOT smooth. I would say the first two days were essentially everyone just stumbling about the boat, little conversation, try to eat, and have what happens when you try to eat on a rocking boat. Otherwise called feeding the fishes. The first two nights I just stayed in my cloths, would stumble downstairs, quickly lay on my bed with everything on, including my shoes, just will myself to sleep. However, by day three, our sea legs kicked in and you saw people slowly come out of it and socialize more, eat with confidence, etc. Even have a St. Paddy’s day beer. Unfortunately we arrive into port after midnight and missed what is apparently a spectacular straight into the Cienfuegos bay. Hopefully will see on the exit trip.
Here is what I woke up to the first day in Cuba.
Now this is a beautiful marina and we are surrounded by some nice looking boats. However, this is where stage two of “the big wait” would kick-in. As well as the Cuban bureaucracy. We knew there was a series of events that needed to happen for us to be released. The two big ones are Covid testing and motorcycle importing and registration. OK, fair enough, in my mind these could easily be done in parallel. Weeeeeel, that would make sense and be efficient. And so it began….
First we get a Covid test the first full day. The entire boat. But that was a Friday. So guess what, wait through the weekend. But it did work out as we needed to wait 5 days before our second test.
So at this point the Stalhratte is docked at Cienfuegos and we are told to remain on the boat. So here is a series of pictures to try and convey three full days sitting on the boat waiting.
Bikes wrapped up on the deck
This was a neat surprise. Midway in the wait a beautiful yacht called the “NightShadow” pulled in next to us. A tad bit more modern from the 118 year old Stahlratte. Here you can see us observing the NightShowdow from the deck of the Rat. Good lord, were we starving for entertainment.
Then the owner (white shirt) , his wife, and a few of the crew came over, with beers, and introduced themselves. Great neighbors. Of course it was entertaining to see Captain Ludwig chat with the captain (light blue shirt) of the yacht. Like watching two time periods talk about the sea.
The owner was a big shot in the tech industry and had now retired. We looked up his name but can’t recall at this writing. Awesome.
I believe this boat parked next to us sums up about how everyone is feeling at this point.
Awesome update. Enjoy Cuba. It's my favorite Caribbean destination. Keep the stories coming!
Great update from Cuba Fin!
And here all along I thought it was just a beer drinking competition while underway
They where keeping score
Something to make the time pass if you can handle it along with blowing smoke off the poop deck
It does make for a long noisy slog with the wind on the point.
thanks for the update!
keep an eye open for Ernesto Guevara, he be riding a hog.
buddy at work knows him very well, speaks highly. .... been there over 50 times.
Monday comes and now we have something to do! We are going to at least unload the bikes and roll them over to the customs office in the marina.
I was expecting MechanicO to possibly be a huge ball of rust when uncovered, but not the case. A little on the brake rotors and interestingly enough on the exposed aluminum on the Regulator/Rectified. He was a tad pissed, but once he found out we go back to land, attitudes went back to only cranky.
Bikes uncovered on deck.
Here is a typical chain of events for a bike unload
Ropes to frame and lift
Pass over the rail
Lower onto pier, not water.
And then the owner stops holding breath and relaxes.
I find interesting how as the motorcycle owner I MUST be involved even though I am probably more in the way. And as the bike moves around I like to grab, say, the fork leg thinking “if the cable snaps, this will totally make a difference with me holding onto the bike like this”. But the reality is if the cable lets go, my single arm is not stopping a 400+lbs bike from crashing down. But I still like to think I could make a difference and owners will always do this. Optimism!
Bikes over at customs.
The inspections/immigration guy asked me if myself or MechanicO have ever been convicted of a crime. Convicted? Never.
Drug sniffing dogs (I assume) where brought out to inspect the bikes. Which of course Jorge had to pose with as they were as cute as can be. But I get the feeling they would rat him or any of out in a heartbeat.
Now here is where the plans changed. Ludwig decided that the Stahlratte would leave today with its other clients to sail around the island. The five riders plus the two others who were taking a taxi to Havana, would stay at the marina on a loaded catamaran built for 5, not 7. They would leave us with some food and drink as well. We would then take our second Covid test on Tuesday followed by the final registration on Tuesday. Hmmm, OK. Klaus in our group had done this before and was to be the liaison to all this happening. As of this writing, it is now Tuesday, we took the second test and we wait for someone to tell us what to do next. I think. Maybe. Now that the captain is gone we are winging this? A little miffed we have been left to figure this out on our own, but if works out fine, then cool. But as it is we are eating into our time here and going a tad crazy. It has now been 9 days since I was riding MechanicO and all I can do is stare at Cuba from a boat in dock. Just have to remind ourselves it will all be worth it.
Here is the band of 7 as the Stahlratte sails of literally into the sunset. he'll be back, right?
The two additions to the group are:
Andy was using the trip to visit his girlfriend in Havana. Funny guy and always cheerful. First one up and always had coffee brewing.
Edwin was one of the crew and was taking a flight from Havana back to Colombia to be with his girlfriend. Solid guy but I could not connect well due to me poor Española.
Pictures of us just passing the time on the catamaran.
My first Cuban meal! Ribs and rice. And rum.
Playing cards. And rum.
More meals. With rum.
And sometimes just rum.
The closed bar at the marina had this sticker on the fridge behind the bar. Being a snowboarder I have been to Sugarloaf several times. And to see a sticker, here of all places, was a tad surreal. So to my friends in Maine!
At this point, we are officially going a bit wonky. To add to all this, the sun and heat are crushing. At least to this white skinned guy. We have high hopes we get out of here tomorrow. But Cuba has its own pace. Patience.
Jorge praying to the big guy to please make this happen soon.
The story certainly thickened.
As mentioned by another, the side holder for me is for all my electronics when I leave the bike. It was a freak'n shit-show watching me try to stuff a GPS, phone, helmet coms, and some other small items into my limited jacket and pant pocket options. Now they all go into the side pouch and are safely in one location.
akaDigger here. Been lurking.
AKA DiggerRigger back in the day. The career of my youth was heavy rigging. The photo of everyone anticipating "catching" the load strikes me. There is something very gratifying (even manly) about being part of a process that involves using mechanical means to perform super human feats. I would often find myself working a crew of inexperienced men who invariably would grab, push and pull at the load. As the person signaling the crane operator, I would at that point be unable to determine exactly where the load was hanging in relation to the sheave at the end of the crane's boom. The taller the boom, the harder to tell. When the load touched down though, it would be obvious. The "headache" ball, or in the case of the Stahlratte, that sheave with the improvised hook, would swing to center. Sometimes causing a headache for the guy who was pushing on the load.
Thanks for taking the time.