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Old 23-09-2013, 09:53   #1
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Cuba bound

Hi !! New to this forum , would like some info if anyone has experience in power boating to Cuba ? I live in Ottawa Canada , so I'm not sure what would be cost effective either boating from Canada or trailering the boat to the states ? Also what type of boat ? I am a mechanic so I would like to find a project boat . Also how long a trip ? Dangers ? I know this isn't going to happen tomorrow but hopefully in the next 3-4 years ! Thanks
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Old 23-09-2013, 10:06   #2
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Re: Cuba bound

Key West to Havana, 90 miles. In a planing power boat you could do it in 2-4 hours on a good day. Not sure about refueling once you get there. I'm a US Citizen and Cuba is off limits until the idiots in Washington DC change the rules. I do understand that parts and supplies are very limited so in a power boat if something breaks down that needs a special part like a water pump that fits your particular block only, then you might be stuck.

Motoring from Canada is a long way and will use a lot of fuel but it's a fun trip. So depends on what you want to do. Take a lot of time and see all the sights along the way or get to the final destination as quickly and cheaply as possible.

One caution, even though US rules do not apply to Canadians I have heard many reports about US customs officials in Key West harassing foreigners that visit Cuba. Unless the rules change before you do this, if you have the range I would recommend clearing back into the US further north in FL or stop over in Mexico and clear into Texas.
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Old 23-09-2013, 12:34   #3
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A couple from Canada stopped there on their cruise to the Rio Dulce, they were on a 3870 Bayliner sedan bridge. They had a blog a few years ago (2006 - 2007) is where I read about it, boats name was "Diamond LiL" & the wife wrote a couple of books with the boats name in the title, I think they're available on Amazon if your interested. Being able to go to Cuba would really interest me if I was able to without the Feds getting pissed.
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Old 23-09-2013, 13:04   #4
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Re: Cuba bound

Read this:
Cuba Blogs | The Life Nomadik

Interesting take on Cuba by fellow Canadians/ Europeans
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Old 25-09-2013, 07:58   #5
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Re: Cuba bound

Here is possibly a stupid question but what's the possibility of getting a houseboat across to cuba from the states if I trailered it from Canada?
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Old 25-09-2013, 11:31   #6
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Re: Cuba bound

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Originally Posted by Rick004 View Post
Here is possibly a stupid question but what's the possibility of getting a houseboat across to cuba from the states if I trailered it from Canada?
Hi Rick,

First it depends on what you mean by a houseboat. That term is sometimes used pretty loosely by different people to mean different things but by most people it refers to one like the picture below.

So is this what you mean by houseboat?

If so, then I think it would be a very risky venture. This kind of houseboat will not handle any kind of waves at all. It would have to be almost perfectly calm to make the crossing. So theoretically it could be done if you were very, very, very careful and a bit lucky with weather. However, one little thunderstorm pops up or the weather forecast was off by a tiny amount and you will be swimming.

If you leave from Key West it's 90 miles to Cuba. How fast is your "houseboat" so how long to go 90 miles? That's your worry.

If what you mean by houseboat is something different than this then the answer will also be different.
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Old 25-09-2013, 12:09   #7
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Re: Cuba bound

Thanks for replying Skipmac ! That's the kind of houseboat I was thinking of , what other types are there that would make the crossing ? I will tell you my reasoning for getting over there . We have been vacationing there twice a year for about 6 years now ! We always go to the same resort in varadero , we have Cuban friends and would like to spend winters there when we retire . The marina in varadero ( darsena) is very inexpensive to park a boat long term , I met a few Canadians that live on there boats year round there . I figured a houseboat would be ideal , because we would cross over once and keep it there , and possibly cruise around the island a bit. Eventually we want to buy property there which is a bit complicated right now but every time we go down we get more info and it just may be possible to trade a boat with a Cuban for property !
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Old 25-09-2013, 13:42   #8
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Re: Cuba bound

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Thanks for replying Skipmac ! That's the kind of houseboat I was thinking of , what other types are there that would make the crossing ?
The term houseboat can mean different things to different people. I have had people call big motorboats like a Hatteras a houseboat. Also there are boats that are kind of hybrids between a big motorboat and a true houseboat.

However, the most commonly accepted usage is for the boat like the photo I posted and that boat would not be a safe choice to take to Cuba. They probably don't go any faster than 8-10 miles per hour so would take 8-12 hours to get to Cuba from Key West. That crossing is a very tricky bit of water that can get rough easily and quickly. A regular houseboat is designed for lakes and rivers NOT the ocean.

Like I said, if you knew what you're doing, were very, very careful and a bit lucky and crossed at the perfect time you would probably make it. After all, Cuban refugees fleeing the country have made it to Florida on inner tubes and row boats. However hundreds have died trying to do that and you are running the risk of joining that list crossing in a houseboat. One little thunderstorm pops up and that boat is going down.

So the short answer is, almost any kind of boat can make the crossing, even little dinghies if you get lucky, but to have a better chance of making it alive you should take a boat that is designed to go in the ocean. Most any kind of sail boat or a motor boat like the one below.




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Eventually we want to buy property there which is a bit complicated right now but every time we go down we get more info and it just may be possible to trade a boat with a Cuban for property !
First you should check on Cuban laws on this issue. Only recently have they allowed individuals to own, buy and sell real estate. If you determine it's allowed I would recommend you talk to the people in Cuba to find out what kind of boat they would want to buy.
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Old 25-09-2013, 14:03   #9
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Re: Cuba bound

Rick, your "foreign" boat would need a cruising permit to enter US waters, even from a ramp. Once you left Cuba, on the way back to the US that permit probably could be revoked and re-entry denied. So you might want to contact US authorities and find out for sure what to anticipate if you make that trip.

Depending on who is in power and which side of the bed they woke up on, these things do change and by the time you are ready to go, the trip might be no problem at all, or impossible.
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Old 25-09-2013, 14:41   #10
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Re: Cuba bound

Thanks for the info !! You guys are probably right , a houseboat isn't the best idea ! What time of the year is more favourable to cross over to Cuba ? I'm not crazy about sailboats , they are kinda cramped , maybe something along the lines of a. 30 foot bayliner or doral ? Cuban laws have slowly been changing , that's why I want to be in a position to be down there looking when Canadians can purchase property ! Right now if I did buy property I would have to put it in my friends name or marry a Cuban woman , and I doubt my wife would appreciate that. !! Lol
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Old 25-09-2013, 15:11   #11
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Re: Cuba bound

Rick-
$438.US from Toronto to Havana and back by jet. Thousands less than the cost of boating there. Unless you want to spend time cruising in Cuba, and unless you are able to keep a visiting boat there for any long duration, that might be your best bet. Put the rest towards your down payment.
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Old 25-09-2013, 15:55   #12
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Rick-
$438.US from Toronto to Havana and back by jet. Thousands less than the cost of boating there. Unless you want to spend time cruising in Cuba, and unless you are able to keep a visiting boat there for any long duration, that might be your best bet. Put the rest towards your down payment.
I hear what you're saying hellosailor ! We constantly watch the net for deals and usually pay around 500$ a week all inclusive with flight ! The reason for boating down is one , the adventure !! And also to live down there and not be on a resort to make sure this is what we really want to do ! Worst case scenario is we sell the boat to someone down there or trade it for a piece of land and put it in my friends name .
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:38   #13
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Re: Cuba bound

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Thanks for replying Skipmac ! That's the kind of houseboat I was thinking of , what other types are there that would make the crossing ? I will tell you my reasoning for getting over there . We have been vacationing there twice a year for about 6 years now ! We always go to the same resort in varadero , we have Cuban friends and would like to spend winters there when we retire . The marina in varadero ( darsena) is very inexpensive to park a boat long term , I met a few Canadians that live on there boats year round there . I figured a houseboat would be ideal , because we would cross over once and keep it there , and possibly cruise around the island a bit. Eventually we want to buy property there which is a bit complicated right now but every time we go down we get more info and it just may be possible to trade a boat with a Cuban for property !
Not a bad plan, would you give more information on location of Veradero Marina (darsena), I plan on being there next month and would like to find a place to dock my boat and live.
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Old 01-10-2013, 16:52   #14
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Re: Cuba bound

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Not a bad plan, would you give more information on location of Veradero Marina (darsena), I plan on being there next month and would like to find a place to dock my boat and live.
If you're familiar with Varadero just after the metal bridge across the canal the road splits . To the left it takes You to Santa Marta and the right , which is the road back to the airport. , it's about. 5 minutes away from the bridge . Ask any local they will point You in the right direction. !!
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Old 01-10-2013, 21:58   #15
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Re: Cuba bound

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If you're familiar with Varadero just after the metal bridge across the canal the road splits . To the left it takes You to Santa Marta and the right , which is the road back to the airport. , it's about. 5 minutes away from the bridge . Ask any local they will point You in the right direction. !!
I am not familiar with the roads but I have docked at Acua Marina, have they changed the name to Darsena Marina? Are there other liveaboards? Having a houseboat there is not a bad idea and not hard to do, 90 miles when the weather is flat.
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