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Old 23-12-2012, 18:27   #1
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Two birds with one boat? Central America

I'm a twenty two year old male with VERY little experience on-board a ship, never been out on anything bigger than a lido in calm weather.

A friend of mine asked me to go check out some properties for sale in Bocas del Toro, Panama and Tulum, Mexico. He's willing to pay me for the trip, but I was thinking of adding in a bit of my own financing and trying to get my feet wet in the process.

I'd be flying down to Bocas in mid to late February, unless it was on the way for someone and they had time for me to look around at properties that is. I'd like to spend a solid week in that area as there are so many islands and so much cheap property for sale. After that my next required destination is the Tulum/Isla Mujeres area. There aren't required stops between point A and point B, however there are hundreds of amazing places I would love to see en-route so the slower the better in my book.

I can afford all of my own living expenses and provide as much as possible in terms of work. I can also pay extra depending on the trip, basically the more stops the more I'm willing to let go of. I'm by no means loaded, no trust funds in these genetics, but it seems like a worthwhile investment since I'm saving up to buy a boat anyways and should probably get some experience first.

I'm a quick and eager learner, not lazy or obtuse, and I lived in a car for two years back in my vagabond days so I'm used to making due with small quarters. All in all I think I'm pretty easy to deal with, I can talk a lot if I get excited, so you might have to tell me to shut up once or twice, but I'm pretty quick to learn what people do and don't want from a travel companion.

I'd prefer one of the two extremes for a skipper: either a younger person who enjoys hitting the shore and having a good time along the way, or a salty old sailor who I can learn a lot from and listen to old boating stories while we sail. In my land-travels (47 states, but never made it out) I've covered some major miles with both so I know I enjoy the company of either.

You would have to give me a thorough run down of the dos and don'ts for what to prepare, what to bring, what to expect, etc. Not only is it my first time out on the sea, but my first time out of country as well.

There's a whole list of places I'd love to see en-route. If anyone has suggestions of lesser known spots that I probably won't find online please let me know. In the off chance I find a skipper who's willing to customize the trip for me I want to be well prepared to choose.
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Old 23-12-2012, 18:34   #2
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Re: Two birds with one boat? Central America

If you are a US citizen, I would cross the two Cuban destinations off your list as a start.
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Old 23-12-2012, 18:46   #3
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Re: Two birds with one boat? Central America

It is a tedious sail from the Yucatan to Panama, esp. if a stop in Roatan in in the cards. Not impossible, but some portions (from Roatan to the Nicaraguan Rise, mostly) very weather-window dependent. I suggest you start in Bocas and work North from there toward Tulum. Not only is most of the prevailing weather and currents fair, but it's easier to hop on as crew of a sailboat when in a foreign port (in my experience). Perhaps it is that both you and the other boaters being foreigners there's something in common; a desire to help a fellow expat out--cruisers far from home like to help each other out. Good luck.
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Old 23-12-2012, 18:47   #4
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Re: Two birds with one boat? Central America

Astrid:
That depends, US citizens are allowed to travel to Cuba but cannot spend money there. Thus, if the person I am not traveling with agrees to pay for all expenses in Cuba then I have not violated any laws. It's good to know a lawyer. Either way, as sweet as it would be to see Cuba, I'm not too attached.

Benz:
A few of the cruisers I've talked to are open under that condition, and I'm not picky about the order of the visit so I'm definitely open to that. That's a great idea though. If all else fails I'll fly down to Bocas, enjoy some time there, then wait to buy the ticket for Tulum until I've checked for any boats headed north.
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Old 23-12-2012, 19:04   #5
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Re: Two birds with one boat? Central America

You may travel to Cuba as a US citizen only if you meet very specific requirements for the license to go there--something the average citizen usually cannot meet. If you do not apply before going, you had better be on good terms with a good lawyer.

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_1097.html
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Old 23-12-2012, 19:12   #6
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Re: Two birds with one boat? Central America

Quote:
Originally Posted by Astrid View Post
You may travel to Cuba as a US citizen only if you meet very specific requirements for the license to go there--something the average citizen usually cannot meet. If you do not apply before going, you had better be on good terms with a good lawyer.

Cuba
Excerpt from that site:
"U.S. Department of the Treasury enforces the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, which apply to all U.S. citizens and permanent residents wherever they are located, all people and organizations physically located in the United States, and branches and subsidiaries of U.S. organizations throughout the world. The regulations require that persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction be licensed in order to engage in any travel-related transactions pursuant to travel to, from, and within Cuba."

Meaning all regulation is specific to transactions and does not prohibit the act of travel its self. Thus, if one has explicit proof that they spent NO money entering, leaving, or in Cuba; no regulations have been broken. The only hiccup is Cuba's non-US medical insurance requirement, I don't think a third party can purchase medical insurance for you. Maybe another country offers temp insurance...


Either way, not too attached. I can't imagine any skipper wants to jump through all those hoops for me to see Havana
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Old 23-12-2012, 19:26   #7
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Re: Two birds with one boat? Central America

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Originally Posted by Dowesva View Post
Astrid:
That depends, US citizens are allowed to travel to Cuba but cannot spend money there. Thus, if the person I am not traveling with agrees to pay for all expenses in Cuba then I have not violated any laws. It's good to know a lawyer. Either way, as sweet as it would be to see Cuba, I'm not too attached.
...
I have not researched current regulations regarding visiting Cuba in great detail, but from what I have reviewed -- things have changed. It used to be the case that you could visit and then claim, after the fact, to have not engaged in any transaction with a Cuban entity (barter counted too), been "fully hosted" for example, but now must be authorized to visit Cuba prior to your trip. It is my understanding that the "fully hosted" loop hole (which you refer to above), often used by cruisers in the past, has been plugged. And, that a US citizen can only legally visit Cuba with prior authorization from the State Department. You might want to research that subject a bit more. Lots of threads on this subject here on CF and of course the definitive source is the State Department web site (link given in a previous post).

Last time I even got close to Cuba I was checked out rather closely by a USCG helicopter.
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Old 23-12-2012, 19:47   #8
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Re: Two birds with one boat? Central America

Ok, fine. I give up on Cuba... You can get the cigars in NOLA anyways.
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Old 23-12-2012, 19:52   #9
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Re: Two birds with one boat? Central America

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Originally Posted by Benz View Post
It is a tedious sail from the Yucatan to Panama, esp. if a stop in Roatan in in the cards. Not impossible, but some portions (from Roatan to the Nicaraguan Rise, mostly) very weather-window dependent...
True, you can wait in the Bay Islands a long time for a weather window to get across the Nicaraguan Banks. Made this run last year and we caught a decent window, at a good time for us, departing from Guanaja, but that is not always the case.

This brings up another consideration for the OP -- cruising boats and schedules don't mix well. While your friend waits for you to check out properties, you could be stuck waiting for a weather window somewhere. You could easily wait weeks for a window on this leg of trip.

Of course, there are worse fates in life than hanging out in the Bay Islands for a few weeks.
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Old 23-12-2012, 20:04   #10
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Re: Two birds with one boat? Central America

Does this issue of waiting hold true if you go strait from Nicaragua to the North Belize or Mexico? Of coarse nothing is guaranteed.
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Old 24-12-2012, 10:51   #11
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Re: Two birds with one boat? Central America

To go from Nicaragua to Belize or Mex. is fine. It is going the other way that is difficult. By the way, don't confuse the Nicaraguan Rise with the country of Nicaragua. Very few cruisers visit Nicaragua because of security issues, though I hear that traffic is increasing. The nicaraguan rise is an area of shallow banks and uninhabited cays off the coasts of Honduras and Nicaragua, right where the continent turns south. Almost everyone passing northward from Panama toward the Bay Islands and Belize stops off there to rest and snorkel. But you would not begin a voyage from there.
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Old 24-12-2012, 11:21   #12
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Re: Two birds with one boat? Central America

Would the O.P. have fewer legal issues visiting Cuba or getting authorization to visit Cuba if he were a guest or crew on a yacht owned and operated by non-US citizens?
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