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Old 02-09-2016, 07:56   #1
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Cruising from SW FL to Cancun/Tulum

Hi,
I am preparing to take my 31 MainShip Sedan Bridge with twin 350 gasoline engines to the Central American Isthmus. My tentative route will take me to Key West and then to the Northern coast of Cuba. Then to cross from the western tip of Cuba to the Cancun area. I have many questions:
1. Assuming I can enter Cuba where are the marinas including Havana and along the NW coast that I can buy gasoline?
2. What are the newest requirements to legally enter Cuba?
3. What currencies are usable throughout Cuba and if only their currency where in SW FL. Can I exchange my US$ for that currency to take with me?
4. Do I need an AIS Transponder? I have a brand new Garmin Chart Plotter with integrated radar.
5. I am concerned with the Gulf Stream crossing of about 47-50 miles between the western tip of Cuba to the Cancun area. When is the best month, week, day of the week to cross? I look upon that crossing as being equivalent to the SE FL to Bahamas crossing. Am I correct in my assessment of the dangers to a small boat like mine: commercial boat traffic as well as the Gulf Stream currents/wind combination?
6. What are the best and reasonably priced marinas in the Cancun/Tulum area? Once I arrive I am planning in locating a slip with shore power 30/50 electricity, water and pump out facilities. Wi fi and/or Internet and cell phone availability would also be nice. I intend to rent a live aboard slip for several months and the explore the area.
Any sage advice from those of y'all who have made this passage and/or those of you familiar with Cuba and/or the Yucatan area of Mexico will be greatly appreciated. You also can PM me @ tebeau169@gmail.com.
Thanks in advance
T.Jacque Tebeau
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Old 02-09-2016, 08:11   #2
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Re: Cruising from SW FL to Cancun/Tulum

There are not many pump out stations in Mexico and Central America. Isla Mujeres is where you will end up near Cancun. Several marinas to live in, for example Marina Paraiso.
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Old 02-09-2016, 08:41   #3
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Re: Cruising from SW FL to Cancun/Tulum

Get an AIS transponder.

Stay out of the Yucatan Channel in a northerly

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Old 02-09-2016, 09:33   #4
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Re: Cruising from SW FL to Cancun/Tulum

"2. What are the newest requirements to legally enter Cuba?"
You need to do some research here. Its YOUR government (USA) that has the legal requirements, not Cuba. Upon entering Cuba you only need to check in and do the required formalities.

"3. What currencies are usable throughout Cuba and if only their currency where in SW FL. Can I exchange my US$ for that currency to take with me?"
Cuba has 2 currencies, Convertable Peso (CUC) and National Peso (CUP). Although have some CUP can be usefull its not required. CUC is all you require. I do not think there is anywhere in the USA to convert your money. Just convert it once you arrive (yes they take USD).

"4. Do I need an AIS Transponder? I have a brand new Garmin Chart Plotter with integrated radar."
The channel between Cuba and Mexico is a super busy shipping/cruise lane. Having an AIS transponder would be very valuable. Personally I wouldn't go without one.

"5. I am concerned with the Gulf Stream crossing of about 47-50 miles between the western tip of Cuba to the Cancun area. When is the best month, week, day of the week to cross? I look upon that crossing as being equivalent to the SE FL to Bahamas crossing. Am I correct in my assessment of the dangers to a small boat like mine: commercial boat traffic as well as the Gulf Stream currents/wind combination? "
I have made this crossing once so I'm not an expert. I have been told that April/May are the best times to attempt it. You need to watch the weather and wait for the right winds. You also should pay attention to the reefs on the north side of Cuba. Many boats have been lost on them.

"6. What are the best and reasonably priced marinas in the Cancun/Tulum area? Once I arrive I am planning in locating a slip with shore power 30/50 electricity, water and pump out facilities. Wi fi and/or Internet and cell phone availability would also be nice. I intend to rent a live aboard slip for several months and the explore the area. "
As previously suggested, Marina Paraiso is a good place. Our boat stayed at Oscars for 6 months and we were happy. You will just need to shop around and see. I suggest you do it before you get there as the marinas can fill up in the lagoon. The ones outside the lagoon usually don't allow unattended boats during hurricane season. There are really no pumpouts in Mexico, most boats direct discharge (yes really).
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Old 02-09-2016, 13:21   #5
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Re: Cruising from SW FL to Cancun/Tulum

My old boat had a garmin chartplotter so I got garmin's AIS to go with it. Worked very well. It will be your most painless approach to getting AIS.
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Old 02-09-2016, 13:45   #6
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Re: Cruising from SW FL to Cancun/Tulum

Here's a NOAA website that'll show you the currents you'll be encountering...

Ocean Prediction Center - Product Loops
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Old 02-09-2016, 14:30   #7
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Re: Cruising from SW FL to Cancun/Tulum

Quote:
Originally Posted by sck5 View Post
My old boat had a garmin chartplotter so I got garmin's AIS to go with it. Worked very well. It will be your most painless approach to getting AIS.
His new Garmin will have a NMEA2000 connection so that will no longer be true. Any NMEA2000 device will work just as well. Personally I like Vesper devices, but its a personal choice.
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Old 02-09-2016, 17:57   #8
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Re: Cruising from SW FL to Cancun/Tulum

I sure wish I had nmea2000 on that unit. Would have made it much easier to do everything. If that is the case then the thing to do is go to the boat show or a west marine and play with all the different units to see which one you like best.
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Old 03-09-2016, 09:37   #9
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Re: Cruising from SW FL to Cancun/Tulum

Puerto Aventuras in between Cancun and Tulum. We spent close to a year there. Isla Mujeres first stop for sure. Install a "Y" valve is you don't have one :-) We made the trip all the way down to Panama. Belize and Guatemala a treat! Enjoy it!
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:38   #10
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Re: Cruising from SW FL to Cancun/Tulum

Unless I am looking at the charts wrong the distance from Western Cuba to Cancun/ Isla Mujeres is closer to 115 miles than 47 to 50. My first concern would be fuel. 200 gallons of gas won't be enough to make it there unless you plan to put up some kind of sail and carry another 200+ gallons in bladders or?
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Old 03-09-2016, 15:11   #11
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Re: Cruising from SW FL to Cancun/Tulum

Cuba requires all foreign yachts to FIRST clear in at the Guard Costa (Cuban Coast Guard) at Marina Hemingway just west of Havana. Marina Hemingway has a fuel dock with gas and diesel pumps. But for any additional ports you hope to enter, you must FIRST get written permission from that Guarda Costa station. Ask them where else you can stop to buy gasoline. Like at Cabo San Antonio / Maria La Gorda, it might just be an anchorage where you dinghy ashore with your jerry jugs, flag down and hire a taxi or truck to take you to the nearest gas station on a highway. And back.
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Old 03-09-2016, 17:42   #12
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Re: Cruising from SW FL to Cancun/Tulum

Your trip is doable. There are different cruising guides out there covering the area you want to cruise in. You really can't plan a trip like this with just a few replies from us. The internet is your friend. Cruising guide .com, marinas.com, ect. Research, research.
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Old 03-09-2016, 18:56   #13
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Re: Cruising from SW FL to Cancun/Tulum

If I were you I would tank up and motor inside the reef along the north coast of cuba to Isla. This is what the human smugglers try to do do with their 4 engine speed boats. Forget aesthetics, a bunch of 55 gal plastic drums on deck is the way to go.
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Old 03-09-2016, 21:06   #14
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Re: Cruising from SW FL to Cancun/Tulum

Read up on your intended route in "Cruising Ports: the Central American Route" by Pat Rains on Amazon. From page 125 to 157 that guide covers all about clearing into Cuba, NW Cuba stops, all the marinas, anchorages along Yucatan Channel, Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Puerto Morelos, other anchorages, Belize, Rio Dulce, Roatan, Bay of Islands, etc. Charts, photos, solid info. Rio Dulce is the safest and least expensive place to summer over during hurricane season down there. ... "Cruising Ports" also covers the coastal route from south Texas around the Gulf of Mexico, Veracruz, Campeche, Yucatan, Quintanna Roo, so this could be done without that big offshore passage, by staying coastal with that gas boat.
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Old 04-09-2016, 07:35   #15
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Re: Cruising from SW FL to Cancun/Tulum

I sailed my 1975 Irwin 30 from Key West to Isla Mujeres in August of 2009. I stayed away from Cuba but regretted it afterwards, the current was strong against us. There were a few commercial ships each day, but it's a big sea and someone's always on the lookout anyway, so that's not a problem. The thing nobody mentioned was a HUGE upwelling where the sea floor rises up. We were stuck in a washing machine-like standing wave pool a couple of square miles in size. Nobody else has talked about this place, perhaps they have missed it by luck. Check the chart and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Also, there is a nice cruising guide by Freye Rauscher for the Western Caribbean. We used it a lot and highly recommend it.
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