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Old 21-01-2010, 12:19   #1
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FL Keys to Cuba

Hey everyone,

How many people sail from the Florida Keys, more specifically Key West, to Havana, Cuba? Just a question out of curiosity because flights are so damn expensive (florida to cancun, cancun to havana and back = $600). Thanks for your help!

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Old 23-01-2010, 20:27   #2
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Not many as it is still illegal for American Citizens to visit/sail to Cuba.
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Old 23-01-2010, 20:40   #3
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For complete details on the travel restrictions you can check here
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Old 23-01-2010, 21:34   #4
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Going directly from south FL for even non US citizens is going to get you stopped by USCG at least. Obviously, the Cubans don't care who comes though the check in and check out isn't easy or quick via boat.
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Old 24-01-2010, 10:53   #5
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Not many as it is still illegal for American Citizens to visit/sail to Cuba.
The question is for everybody, not only US citizens read this forum.
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Old 24-01-2010, 11:38   #6
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The person who asked the question describes himself as being from Florida.
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Old 24-01-2010, 12:59   #7
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Once you leave the US from south FL headed to Cuba you can be stopped. It does not mean you can be arrested. Boats headed direct from the US to Cuba can expect to be stopped no matter who you are. It's not an issue if it is legal it is an issue about going to Cuba. There is no official embargo against Cuba by the US. The USCG will inspect any vessel they choose to for the reasons they choose. This applies any place they choose to be. They are not police - they are military.

The US has a political relationship issue with Cuba that currently is not favorable. The Cubans don't have one with the US. They like anyone that spends money.
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Old 24-01-2010, 13:22   #8
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United States embargo against Cuba - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 24-01-2010, 14:01   #9
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Once you leave the US from south FL headed to Cuba you can be stopped. It does not mean you can be arrested. Boats headed direct from the US to Cuba can expect to be stopped no matter who you are. It's not an issue if it is legal it is an issue about going to Cuba. There is no official embargo against Cuba by the US. The USCG will inspect any vessel they choose to for the reasons they choose. This applies any place they choose to be. They are not police - they are military.

The US has a political relationship issue with Cuba that currently is not favorable. The Cubans don't have one with the US. They like anyone that spends money.
This is not to start a political debate Paul, but under the Bush administration the Coast Guard was given standing orders that, at it's descretion it had the authority to seize any US vessel that it "believed" was going to Cuba. Obviously we would have heard if that had ever happened but it was, and unless things have changed, still an option. The US Coast Guard does have arrest powers and is considered a law enforcement as well as military agency, thus their active drug enforcement and smuggling initiatives. There are currently Bills in congress to lift all travel restrictions and ultimately lift the embargo. Some info on the bills can be found here Bill to allow travel to Cuba has a better shot - CNN.com .WG
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Old 26-01-2010, 06:34   #10
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There are about 100 or so threads amongst the various boating forums discussing sailing to Cuba and it all boils down to for US citizens/boats - IF you get caught you will get involved in a morass of complications ranging from a warning to thousands of dollars of lawyers fees and other costs before it is resolved.
- - The ban on travel (trading with the enemy) to Cuba was renewed by the Obama Administration so what was in effect during the last Administration is still in effect. The Bills in Congress have not progressed anywhere so I would recommend not holding your breathe waiting for them.
- - Cruisers from elsewhere in the world are not subject to US Laws so long as their boats are not US or US State registered (e.g., Florida). However you can expect to be stopped and boarded by the USCG to see if you have any US Citizens onboard or and contraband/drugs/fleeing Cubans/etc. The laws authorizing that go all the way back to the founding of the USA when foreign vessels would harass the coastline of the newly formed USA.
- - Enforcement of the ban is spotty depending upon the individual USCG vessel and crew/Captain and whether they are having a bad day or a good day along with your attitude towards them and their duties.
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Old 26-01-2010, 06:54   #11
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We did so last year, but I'm a Swedish citizent and we were all swedes on board. We told the imigrations before we left that we were heading for Cuba. We left from Dry Tortugas and had a coast guard ship come up, drive around us and leave. I think the might have seens the boats name and checked it up, although we didn't have and flag at all up by that time ( the mounting failed and we lost it.)

Anyways. Most of hte boats in Hemmingway marina are americans. I really don't belive that the us coast gurad care that much anymore... But on you way home, may be go furtehr up that Key West (that's what most of the people we spoke to did...)
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Old 26-01-2010, 12:01   #12
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You can sail as an US flagged vessel to Cuba.

Quote "The regulations state that any U.S. vessel or vessel assimilated as one without nationality less than 100 meters (328 feet) in length must have a Coast Guard permit to depart from the 12-mile territorial sea and thereafter enter Cuban territorial waters regardless of intervening entry into, passage through, or departure from any other territorial waters."


The assumption seems to be made that if you are more than 12 miles from the US you might be in Cuban waters?



Quote "Applicants for a Coast Guard permit must fax completed applications to the Seventh Coast Guard District at (305) 415-6925 for approval. Applicants may direct questions to the Seventh Coast Guard District at (305) 415-6920."


The rest of it is available at


Cuba Travel Restrictions

You just cannot spend any money there. Find a non-US vessel that is willing to write a document that they paid all of your expenses including any entry fees etc.
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Old 26-01-2010, 19:23   #13
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You can sail as an US flagged vessel to Cuba.
Quote "The regulations state that any U.S. vessel or vessel assimilated as one without nationality less than 100 meters (328 feet) in length must have a Coast Guard permit to depart from the 12-mile territorial sea and thereafter enter Cuban territorial waters regardless of intervening entry into, passage through, or departure from any other territorial waters."
The assumption seems to be made that if you are more than 12 miles from the US you might be in Cuban waters?
Quote "Applicants for a Coast Guard permit must fax completed applications to the Seventh Coast Guard District at (305) 415-6925 for approval. Applicants may direct questions to the Seventh Coast Guard District at (305) 415-6920."
The rest of it is available at Cuba Travel Restrictions
You just cannot spend any money there. Find a non-US vessel that is willing to write a document that they paid all of your expenses including any entry fees etc.
Not quite - That regulation was put out in response to the aircraft and other vessels that were harassing Cuba with leaflets and ended up being shot down by the Cubans. To forestall any future such messy PR incidents an exclusion zone was set up between Florida and Cuba and any aircraft or vessels entering the area needed to notify the USCG so that they can be monitored.
Additionally the regulation falls in the same category/style of other US Fed regs that requires you to report to the IRS all earnings from illegal activities like money laundering, prostitution, stealing, etc. and pay taxes on the income. If they can't convict you on the crime they can convict you of failing to pay taxes on the money.
Simply sailing to and staying in Cuba is construed by the US Government as spending money (trading with the enemy) unless you have an approved permit. All the possible variations of circumventing the regulations have been tried and found invalid by the Feds.
But it is true that the enforcement budget has been "zeroed out" in the Fed Budget so it is unlikely that anybody will actively go after you unless you piss them off. But the potential is there for some major head aches and financial liabilities should you as a US citizen endeavor to travel to Cuba by any means.
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Old 26-01-2010, 21:25   #14
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Not quite - That regulation was put out in response to the aircraft and other vessels that were harassing Cuba with leaflets and ended up being shot down by the Cubans......Additionally the regulation falls in the same category/style of other US Fed regs that requires you to report to the IRS all earnings from illegal activities like money laundering,....
The stated purpose was to protect people as outlined in DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, Coast Guard, 33 CFR Parts 107 and 165, [USCG–2004–17509] RIN 1625–AA86, Unauthorized Entry Into Cuban Territorial Waters


Which states


" This rule is necessary to provide for the safety of United States citizens and residents who may be subject to excessive force, including deadly force, upon entering Cuban territorial waters, to improve enforcement of the embargo against the Government of Cuba, and to prevent a threatened disturbance of the international relations of the United States."



There are some permits that as of 2004 are prerequisites to obtain permission from the Coast Guard.


"Accordingly, in order for covered
vessels to receive a Coast Guard permit to enter Cuban territorial waters, the Coast Guard will require the permit application to include a copy of a valid
and applicable license issued to the applicant by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), pursuant to the Export Administration Regulations, 15 CFR chapter VII, subchapter C, parts 730–774 for the export of the vessel to Cuba. The Coast Guard will also require the permit application to include a copy of a valid and applicable specific license issued
by the U.S. Department of the Treasury (OFAC), pursuant to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 CFR part 515, authorizing the applicant’s travel- related transactions in Cuba. Applicants who do not require such an OFAC specific license are required to make a written certification to that effect identifying which OFAC general license applies or explaining why no OFAC license is required."

It is now more difficult for US flagged vessels and/or crew or passengers to now get permission to go to Cuba than before 2004 as now one needs permission to export your boat to Cuba.
You may not need a license from the US Department of the Treasury (OFAC) if your expenses are paid by a person who is not a citizen of the US.

As of 2004 vessels that are not US flagged and do not carry any US citizens aboard may depart for Cuba without a US Coast Guard permit as I understand the new rule, see below.

"The rule may be enforced against U.S. vessels or vessels without nationality that have operated within the U.S. 12 nautical mile territorial sea or inland waters before entering Cuban territorial waters.This rule does not apply to warships, foreign vessels, other public vessels operated for non-commercial purposes, or U.S. vessels entering Cuban territorial waters under force majeure"

The new rule which can be downloaded in PDF format at

http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg531/Cuba_Fed_Register.pdf

makes for interesting reading.




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Old 27-01-2010, 09:02   #15
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I think the point is that--as a U.S. citizen--you have to get permission first, and getting permission is neither easy nor straightforward. You can't just sail to Cuba, come back, and when the Coast Guard stops you get out of jail free by saying, "But I didn't spend any money there! See, all my receipts prove that a non-American paid my bills!" That's just not gonna fly.

Are the odds in your favor? Of course they are! Do you want to risk fines, jail time, and the confiscation of your boat on those odds? I sure don't!
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