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Cuba or bust
Posted: Friday, February 4, 2011 5:30 PM
Joined: 06/07/2010
Posts: 1

I am trying to better understand the protocol for a foreign flagged vessel (with American guests/crew) to enter Cuba. The Captain has gone by plane and done some research while in Cuba, but would like to touch base with ANY yacht who has gone to Cuba and returned; to get any helpful information and suggestions on the entering, exiting, marinas, and immigration process. The main question was: If guests are picked up in the US, can the vessel sail directly to Cuba and back, or is it recommended to go via the Bahamas for any reason? Please advise.
Posted: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 4:11 PM
Joined: 21/08/2008
Posts: 30

Tourist visits to Cuba by Americans are illegal period because it is illegal for Americans to spend money there due to a trade embargo. I suppose if you could prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that you did not spend one cent in Cuba you could take your chances, but I doubt you would convince customs officers it was true. Cuba does not prohibit Americans from coming to Cuba, so you will occasionally hear of American crew who visit Cuba under the radar. Though there are a lot of people who do it, doing so is a crime. I had a captain friend who was caught making such a trip. In Cuba, they put a funky small stamp in his passport and he said immigration officers knew just where to look for it. The incident cost him $15K in fines and lawyers fees to make the problem go away and get his passport returned. If you still plan to take Americans into Cuba as tourists- know they are breaking US law and taking a serious risk. The law is inconsistently enforced, the potential penalties are steep. Proceed with caution.
Posted: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 7:10 PM
Joined: 25/06/2009
Posts: 277

This site has a good discussion of the issues




Posted: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 7:22 PM
see for more information and answers  the trip you are talking about may cause the participants a lot of trouble and the loss of the boat as well

Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 7:35 AM
You will not be able to enter Cuban waters if there are any American citizens on board. I was told that every boat has to ask for a special permit quite a long time in advance with a crew and passenger list, it will be just refused in your case. Anyway, I really do not recommend to any boat to go to Cuba, I spent a month there this year on holiday and trust me the marinas are not what we would call marinas, they are big commercial ports or just a ponton for 1 boat. When it comes to provisioning, it would be a pure disaster, they still do not have supermarkets, they are still using their food stamps in a lot of shops in which a tourist cannot buy anything as they use their pesos and not the pesos convertible (currency for tourists) called cuc. It's a country that stopped 50 years ago after the revolution. No Chanel and Gucci shop for the Owners !
Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 5:17 PM
Joined: 29/04/2009
Posts: 6

Nicely said. I guess cuba is the last frontier for yachting in the Caribbean. It would be cool if Cuba could facilitate yachts. With it being so close to Florida, I think it would be fun.
Posted: Thursday, February 17, 2011 4:16 PM
Been there, done that, had a blast, no problems.
Forget the north coast, the south is much better. Not much to do besides diving, windsurfing, snorkeling, fishing. We entered from Cayman in Cayo Largo del Sur, and cleared out 90 days later in Santiago for Bahamas, spent 3 months Bahamas then to FL. No stamps in any passports, they give you a separate paper.
If guests want to do mainly shoreside stuff, take a tour by air from Canada. No point in boating there for land attractions. The diving was superb, the fishing incredible, definitely worth the effort. Boat must be non-US and the US crew will not have any hidden thing in their passports.
Wont be long till the embargo is over, and when it is, it will just be another Caribbean money grabbing venue, as things are already going that way.
As you cross 12m start calling on the VHF, dont give up. They will ask origin, destination, flag, pax, etc, then proceed directly to the yellow dock for clearance, or if too big anchor off and they will ROW out to you. Fly Courtesy and Q, first of the 12 that came out was the doc, wearing a mini skirt, and gorgeous, (felt like being sick there and then) she checked for contamination, then the agriculture guys, emptied fridge of eggs, meat etc, left a few things with strict instructions to use the yellow bins for incineration of all food products. Next was customs and immigration, it took 2 hours, sit them down and offer refreshments (not booze) first order of business was to give one of them cash, no receipt, he buggered off and we thought "What the?" we carried on with the paperwork, he reappeared with revenue stamps for the forms, and change. Next we had a dog visit, for drugs, nothing found, then another dog for arms and ammunition. Next they bagged the Handheld VHF's and GPS, (so we could not take co-ordinates for missile strike apparently) and left them on board. We also have a dog on board. The state vet came and gave our woofer a checkover, and took a sample of poop. We paid $5.00 for his clearance to walk ashore. Gave the pencils and pens to them. At another anchorage, a Gardafrontera rowed out to us to board, he had a fibreglass briefcase, which he handed to me prior to boarding. As I handled it there was something heavy clunking around inside. He informed us we were not supposed to anchor there as it was a in front of a holiday resort for party members. I told him I had a migraine and would be off at first light. He opened the case and there was one pencil, one sheet of blank paper and one Makarov pistol. He took down the details of our Zarpe, and problems.
One of the best places we have been, for very different reasons.

The embargo is the only reason the regime has not changed. Drop that and within a month the Govt will fall, as then they will have no-one else to blame...(posted anon because some low life might want to "get" me)

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