For all you Yanks out there....
I had two nice discussions today....one with a friend of mine who has been in the Coast Guard out of Miami
for 31 years, and one with a U.S. Customs
supervisor. Here's what they said about traveling to and from Cuba.
The Coastie said that they don't care whether you came from Cuba, the Bahamas
, etc. It's not in their charter
to "catch" Americans visiting Cuba illegally. They are looking for drug runners, and not slow boats with an ounce of weed on them...they are interested in disrupting the supply line into the U.S. In summary, you stand no more probability of being boarded by the Coast Guard coming back from Cuba as you do from the Bahamas
. If you are boarded, be courteous; you may ask them to put on "boat shoes", and they will oblige.
Supervisor discussion was a little humorous. He stated that, as an American, I cannot visit Cuba. I responded that nowhere in the U.S. Constitution does it say that the federal government
can regulate where I go....only where I may spend U.S. currency. He flat stated that I cannot visit Cuba (unless on a permit
for certain exemptions, already covered in another thread here). He stated that it's a $10,000 fine.
But then he lightened up, and said, "you need to ask better questions". He then said, there's no chance I would actually be fined the $10,000 unless I had lots of cargo from Cuba on board (live or otherwise). He stated that they would just search the boat, tell me to not go again, and leave. He further said that everyone at the Customs department thinks that the rule
is completely stupid and that they have better things to do than badger sailors about whether or not they should have gone to Cuba.
He DID state that the worst thing you could do is lie about where you've been....that will surely wind
up with you in prison.
So, I learned that (a) the Coast Guard couldn't care less if you went to Cuba, (b) arguing Federalism with a Customs agent is pointless, (c) you may visit Cuba; just pay cash for everything while you are there, bring NOTHING back, and ask forgiveness from the Customs agent when you return. If you are rebellious in nature, I wish you fair winds and following seas.