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Old 12-11-2019, 16:35   #1
EAC
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Stopping in CUBA to refuel....

I am a licensed boat captain & a US citizen. I have a contract to deliver a power boat from Key West, FL to Cancun, Mexico. I will need to stop in Cuba to refuel.
The boat owner put a lot of new & valuable boating equipment inside the boat in boxes and packages to bring to his boating business in Cancun.
I am concerned that Customs & Immigration in Cuba could board the boat and confiscate the merchandise.
Does anyone have any experience or information regarding this?
I was thinking to refuel in Havana @ Hemingway Marina ?!?
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Old 12-11-2019, 16:56   #2
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Re: Stopping in CUBA to refuel....

We've made the trip twice. We added two fuel bladders and avoided stopping anywhere.
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Old 12-11-2019, 17:29   #3
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Re: Stopping in CUBA to refuel....

You will be safe from theft in Cuba: security is tight, and officials, on both my visits, were reasonable and professional. It takes a geological age to check in and out, but at least they all come to your boat. I don't remember whether fuel was available at Hemingway: remember they have chronic shortages of everything, and fuel is no exception. But even so the hassle of stopping in may not be worth it. The status for US citizens (whether we're allowed by our own State Department to go to Cuba), keeps changing. Seems far safer and cheaper (both time and money-wise) to lay in extra fuel in bladders or jugs and go direct.
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Old 13-11-2019, 07:23   #4
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Re: Stopping in CUBA to refuel....

Agree with Benz. You have to have permission to stop in Cuba, otherwise you risk arrest, fines, etc. The odds of getting caught may be small, but the consequences if you DO can be extreme. Especially when acting as a professional skipper on someone else's boat, I would want to be certain to dot all the I's and cross all the T's.


Good luck.
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Old 13-11-2019, 09:42   #5
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Re: Stopping in CUBA to refuel....

I just sailed to Cuba in May just prior to the administration shutting down visits by yachts. Hemmingway does have fuel; if you do decide to do that, you will have to exchange dollars at the hotel (at the harbor) to pay in CUC. They will NOT change any unused CUC back, though.

Prior to the opening of Cuba to yachts, my understanding is that boats would stop there and just not get their passport stamped (they give you a separate "visa" paper). It is not going in and out of Cuba that is an issue, it is getting back in the US if Cuba was the prior port. If you are heading to Cancun, and then from there back to the US (as many travellers to Cuba have done), you should be OK.

Of course, if you can avoid any potential issues by having extra fuel, that would IMO be the best course of action. Cuba is a pretty awesome place to visit, though, and I look forward to going back someday; I'm a rule-follower, though, so I'll wait until it is legit to do so.
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Old 13-11-2019, 10:47   #6
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Re: Stopping in CUBA to refuel....

Curious what kind of boat. Assume power, and sounds like you're coming from east side of Florida . If you depart from Naples area and shoot for Isla Mujeres, it's 400 nms and you cross the gulf stream at right angles. Interesting question. Interested to know what you decide.
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Old 13-11-2019, 11:00   #7
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Re: Stopping in CUBA to refuel....

Reading - it works. Opening post says delivering a powerboat from Key West.

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Old 13-11-2019, 11:23   #8
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Re: Stopping in CUBA to refuel....

Quote:
Originally Posted by tankersteve View Post
Reading - it works. Opening post says delivering a powerboat from Key West.
Sorry about that - my mistake. Thanks for your kind reminder.

Would still be interested in what kind of powerboat. A friend's powercat likes to run at 20 kts and a miserly 40 gph so would drain his 700 gal tanks well before Cancun. But if he throttles back to 9-kts, he burns 7.5 gph and would easily make it with plenty of reserve.
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Old 13-11-2019, 11:58   #9
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Re: Stopping in CUBA to refuel....

That's a no brainer. Spend your time and money in Cuba risky business or slow down and go direct to Cancun.
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Old 13-11-2019, 13:36   #10
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Re: Stopping in CUBA to refuel....

This is mark a friend of Jeff’s. He is on this site I am not. You can get fuel at Hemingway’s. Pull up to customs. Tell them you are not stepping foot on land. They will let you go to the fuel dock. You will need to exchange your dollars. They will allow someone from the dock master office to exchange your money. You don’t pay visa dockage or anything. You will loose some exchange but nothing can be done. They don’t stamp your passport they don’t look at it. It will be easier in San Antonio if they have fuel. They didn’t two weeks ago when I was there. Don’t listen to nay sayer or read what is on the internet. I was just there. No problem.
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Old 13-11-2019, 14:32   #11
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Re: Stopping in CUBA to refuel....

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Perfessor View Post
If you are heading to Cancun, and then from there back to the US (as many travellers to Cuba have done), you should be OK.
"Should be" being the operative phrase. Odds of getting caught -- very low. Consequences if the odds go against you -- SEVERE!


I might be willing to roll the dice with my own boat. When operating as a professional captain on someone else's boat, not so much.


Of course, in the end it is up to the OP to decide if he wants to take his chances, or follow the law.
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Old 13-11-2019, 15:59   #12
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Re: Stopping in CUBA to refuel....

As of last month there was a lack of diesel fuel in Cuba. The public bus system was shut down. Tankers are now not able to dock in Cuba without penalties from the US government.
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Old 13-11-2019, 17:23   #13
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Stopping in CUBA to refuel....

Iíve flown over Cuba several times going to the Cayman Islands, it was well known to not have an emergency that required landing, if you did you may not get your airplane back.
Having said that. Iím looking forward to the time I can visit.
If I were operating Commercially and were going to stop in Cuba in someone elseís boat, Iíd have a signed statement from them saying they understood that I was and they concurred with the plan.
Just as an example of how things work.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news...man-s-n1080751
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Old 13-11-2019, 18:05   #14
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Re: Stopping in CUBA to refuel....

IF it is currently against US law for its citizens to go to Cuba, there's a good chance the USCG will monitor your departure from there: I was sailing from Isla Mujeres to Key West, and not far from the Cuban coast (got becalmed and stuck in the counter-current), a USCG vessel radioed me and asked all sorts of questions: made me glad I hadn't just visited Cuba. We saw three others between there and Key West--the Strait is pretty heavily patrolled.
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Old 14-11-2019, 09:05   #15
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Re: Stopping in CUBA to refuel....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benz View Post
IF it is currently against US law for its citizens to go to Cuba...
It is. At least, without prior permission from the government.


I really wish that Congress would get off their butts and change the law in this regard. Otherwise we are going to keep getting whip-sawed by changes in the regulations and enforcement every time we get a new president.
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