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Old 04-09-2018, 09:35   #1
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Sailing to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL

Hi,
I'm hoping to pull from the combined wisdom of this group. I'm looking to sail to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL via a stop at Key West. I'll be sailing a C&C 43' landfall mono. I looking to do this come May. Given typical weather, winds, and the gulf stream, is May a good month to make the trip? I'm looking at May as this seems to be what works for people's schedule, but if this time is not good/safe, I would explore other options. Just looking to sail into Hemmingway Marina and then explore the island by land for 3-4 days since we don't have an extended time to sail around the island. Any thoughts are welcome. If there is a thread on this already, please direct me. Also, any tips, comments, etc. on sailing to Cuba would be most welcome. Thanks! Rich
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Old 04-09-2018, 09:49   #2
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Re: Sailing to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL

Join this facebook group and buy Addison Chan's book Waterways Guide to Cuba


Also keep in mind that Cuba is changing and what is true today may not be true in May.
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Old 04-09-2018, 10:08   #3
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Re: Sailing to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL

May should be a good month..after the winter northers and before 'cane season. If you guys have time, wait for a wx window in the Dry Tortugas .. beautiful area worth the visit and gives you some westing before making the jump across.

Have fun! Hemmingway is a great spot from which to see the entire island by land.
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Old 04-09-2018, 15:39   #4
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Re: Sailing to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL

What is the story on going out to the airport in KW to get your CBP form 1300 check out and telling them you are going to Cuba?
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Old 04-09-2018, 16:59   #5
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Re: Sailing to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL

We went into the customs house near downtown KW with CG1300 in hand. They gave me, as the captain, what I'd call a light easy grilling about why we were going. Crew sat outside on the stoop waiting. No red flags and then off we went. You're supposed to leave within 24 hours of clearing out if memory serves. We left in Jan and ended up waiting for a wx window in tortugas for almost 3 weeks.

Didn't see or encounter any resistance on the crossing. As it turned out for us, we didn't need the "zarpe" the CPB gave us to clear into Cuba. Definitely not an endorsement not to get it though!
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Old 05-09-2018, 10:52   #6
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Re: Sailing to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL

Since this is being discussed, can someone point me to a reliable source (link) on doing the paperwork to go to Cuba? I was also thinking about going next May. I looked into doing this last year, but at the time, it seemed that the "people-to-people" category had been shut down.

Thanks!
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Old 05-09-2018, 10:56   #7
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Re: Sailing to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL

If you are an American before departure be sure to check your vessel's insurance coverage to determine if you have an endorsement for Cuba. There likely will be specific exclusions and warranties associated with the special endorsement.

The first step in obtaining insurance is to self-qualify under one of Department of the Treasury-authorized licenses that allows Americans to visit Cuba.

In addition, U.S. vessels less than 328 feet in length need a Coast Guard permit. This means filling out the CG-3300 form, Application for Permit to Enter Cuban Territorial Seas, and submitting it to the Seventh District headquarters in Miami. The U.S. Coast Guard provides permission information at (305) 415-6920

Travel to Cuba is regulated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Anyone located in the United States, regardless of citizenship and nationality, must comply with these regulations. Individuals seeking to travel to Cuba are not required to obtain licenses from OFAC if their travel is covered by a general license. If travel is not covered by a general license, you must seek OFAC authorization in the form of a specific license. Travelers who fail to comply with regulations may face penalties and criminal prosecution. For travel-specific questions, please see 31 C.F.R. 515.560 and OFAC's Frequently Asked Questions.
https://www.treasury.gov/resource-ce...a_faqs_new.pdf

Visit the Cuban Embassy website for visa requirements. Cuba requires visitors to have non-U.S. medical insurance, which is usually included in airline ticket prices on flights originating in the United States or can be purchased at the airport upon arrival to Cuba.
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Old 05-09-2018, 11:08   #8
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Re: Sailing to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL

Re weather/routing (politics and paperwork aside):

Ive sail Ft Myers to Dry Tortugas to Havana...then returned Havana to KW.

April-May are the most settled months...keep in mind though that the Gulf Stream can have a significant local influence on weather and help create localized squalls.

Ft Myers to DTs is a good shake down because its about the same distance as DTs/KW to Havana.

All (DT, KW, Havana) are best as day light entries...unless you are VERY familiar with the entrances AND have tracks (though KW is lit...the extreme light noise can make it confusing at night)...so plan accordingly.

Entrance to Marina Hemmingway is narrow with very rough submerged edges...its an easy entrance in good conditions, but better be sure you are in channel.

Florida Straits can have a LOT of commercial traffic. A good look out plus AIS/RADAR/VHF at helm help increase safety.
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Old 05-09-2018, 11:56   #9
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Re: Sailing to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL

Thank you for all the advice. With respect to the removal of the "people to people" category, I'm getting mixed info. I've been reading that there is a "support the people" category (which sounds a lot like the "people to people" category). I'm still trying to find out what the deal is. My initial research on the US website is that the "Support the People" category is still there. I've been looking into a service that creates itineraries in Cuba that meet the "support the people" requirements. It's called "ViaHero". Has anyone had any interactions/success with them? Thanks again. All this info is very encouraging!
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Old 05-09-2018, 12:09   #10
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Re: Sailing to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL

We filed CG3300 under 'Support for the Cuban People' (Sept '17) and received a call the following week from a petty officer with some very basic simple questions. We brought donations (don't inform Cuban officials of this when you arrive) and lined up some volunteer work and travel to some small farms outside Havana.

The FB group mentioned at the outset is a great resource for pretty much everything you need. They will guide you in the right direction with the latest available info.
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Old 05-09-2018, 12:31   #11
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Re: Sailing to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ_n_Audrey View Post
Since this is being discussed, can someone point me to a reliable source (link) on doing the paperwork to go to Cuba? I was also thinking about going next May. I looked into doing this last year, but at the time, it seemed that the "people-to-people" category had been shut down.

Thanks!
FYI.

Amendments Implement President Trump’s June 2017 National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba
People-to-People Travel [Cultural and / or educational exchange]
 In accordance with the NSPM, Office of Foreign Asset Control OFAC is requiring that (1) all people-to-people nonacademic educational travel be conducted under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction and that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact, and (2) such travelers be accompanied by a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction who is a representative of the sponsoring organization. Individual people-to-people nonacademic educational travel will no longer be authorized as announced by the President.

PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE TRAVEL AS A WAY TO TRAVEL TO CUBA LEGALLY:
The U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), under direction from the President, regulates travel to Cuba pursuant to the U.S. Embargo Against Cuba. Currently there are 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba which include: Family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities including people-to-people activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and certain authorized export transactions.

Notably, 11 of the 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba are very narrow in scope, meaning few Americans qualify. However, people-to-people travel, which exists as part of the educational activities category, allows any American to legally travel to Cuba, provided they engage in a full-time schedule of activities. Travel-related transactions pursuant to this authorization must be for the purpose of engaging, while in Cuba, in a full-time schedule of activities intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities; Each traveler has a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba.

American "tourists" will also no longer be able to travel to Cuba on individual people-to-people exchange programs. They must travel now with a sponsoring organization or, if there on educational travel, with an American group or university
Basically you need to participate in a qualified people to people exchange tour arrangement and avoid doing business with certain firms that are associated with the Cuban military. The full list of 180 sanctioned Cuban businesses includes some famous hotels in Havana like Hotel Ambos Mundos and Hotel Armadores de Santander. The restrictions also fall on shops in Old Havana, as well as businesses like rum producers and real estate firms.
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Old 05-09-2018, 12:57   #12
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Re: Sailing to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL

Cash is King.

Debit and Credit Cards are very difficult to use in Cuba, so bring cash currency and exchange for the Cuban Convertible Peso upon arrival.

Cuba uses two currencies — the Cuban convertible peso, known as a CUC, and the Cuban peso, known as the CUP.

U.S. visitors need the CUC, which is 1:1 with the U.S. dollar.

When you change dollars in Cuba, the Cuban government levies a penalty of 10% if you are changing US dollars, Then they levy a 3% financial transaction charge. So in total you are docked 13%.

That means you'll get 87 CUCs for every $100 you change.

Exchange your dollars into euros before you go to Cuba and you don't get the 10% financial slap on the Yankee hand, but you are subject to changing financial markets as to euro / US$.
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Old 05-09-2018, 13:53   #13
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Re: Sailing to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montanan View Post
If you are an American before departure be sure to check your vessel's insurance coverage to determine if you have an endorsement for Cuba. There likely will be specific exclusions and warranties associated with the special endorsement.

The first step in obtaining insurance is to self-qualify under one of Department of the Treasury-authorized licenses that allows Americans to visit Cuba.

In addition, U.S. vessels less than 328 feet in length need a Coast Guard permit. This means filling out the CG-3300 form, Application for Permit to Enter Cuban Territorial Seas, and submitting it to the Seventh District headquarters in Miami. The U.S. Coast Guard provides permission information at (305) 415-6920

Travel to Cuba is regulated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Anyone located in the United States, regardless of citizenship and nationality, must comply with these regulations. Individuals seeking to travel to Cuba are not required to obtain licenses from OFAC if their travel is covered by a general license. If travel is not covered by a general license, you must seek OFAC authorization in the form of a specific license. Travelers who fail to comply with regulations may face penalties and criminal prosecution. For travel-specific questions, please see 31 C.F.R. 515.560 and OFAC's Frequently Asked Questions.
https://www.treasury.gov/resource-ce...a_faqs_new.pdf

Visit the Cuban Embassy website for visa requirements. Cuba requires visitors to have non-U.S. medical insurance, which is usually included in airline ticket prices on flights originating in the United States or can be purchased at the airport upon arrival to Cuba.

Oops didn't mean to say "self-qualify" as the people to people exchange now requires the involvement of an organization.
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Old 05-09-2018, 16:15   #14
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Re: Sailing to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL

Good for you, I have sailed to Cuba in the following boats, C &C 27,
Pearson Triton 29 ft, Pearson Red-Wing 30ft. Pearson Ketch 37, and One year ago in June, my current Boat Tayana 37, Pilot House. All the trips expect one to Marina Hemingway.

All trips from Sarasota , I have scene the Gulf Stream calm as a lake, no wind, and one trip waited in Key West for weak cold ft to slide south, thinking I would have nice wind to sail to Marina Hemingway.

I was much younger and dumber then, I got the snot beat out of me, I have heard of 15 ft chop, but never been in it. I was to far to turn back but not close enough to hide,

In the troughs the sails lost wind the boat bolted upright, the wind vane did not stand a chance, then boom,, on top of the waves, the sail's filled and slammed me over, the goose neck broke and even with reefed sails she took off like a rocket, over and over again, hand steering.

Finally i was close enough to contact Marina Hemingway, they said no way was I allowed to try to make the entrance and gave me permission to go on to Havana Harbor, I surfed in the harbor by the sea buoy, Morrow Castle on one side, Havana on the other. I will never forget that experience, two days later the wind calmed and I sailed to Marina Hemingway.

Why do I tell you this, pick your weather pick your weather pick your weather. The suggestion to sail to Dry Tortuga's is a good one, although your boat will make much better speed, the current can rip and eddies are something to contend with, and can help as well.

Cuba is beautiful, I found the people very nice. I have a small non profit so the doors are open,Ii do still get permission from the USCG. The staff at marina Hemingway are very nice, some of the guys have been there over 20 years and I know on a first name basis.

Years ago they posted a guard to sit on the dock and watch people come and go, not the last trip, much more relaxed. I personally give the dock master the Dr. and the rest of the gang 5 bucks apiece, they appreciate it and have family's like we do. They don't make squat from the Government. I hope I don't get a bunch of flak, this is just my experience. Go have fun, it is really a great experience, soon to change, for better or worse, depends on who you ask. Cheers Pop's
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Old 06-09-2018, 13:47   #15
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Re: Sailing to Cuba from Ft Myers, FL

FYI:

Apparently some of the Cuban military owned marinas are banned by the OFAC.

https://www.passagemaker.com/trawler...-us-boats-cuba

"As of today, U.S. boaters have been banned from five Cuban marinas as part of the Trump administration’s pushback against efforts to normalize relations with Havana. One of the marinas, Marina Gaviota at Varadero, is the biggest marine facility in the Caribbean with berths for more than 1,200 boats. (Above)

Under President Obama, U.S. citizens were allowed to visit Cuba under 12 exceptions to the U.S. Travel Ban. One was the “people-to-people” program, which allowed individuals or group tours to engage in educational and cultural activities that brought them into contact with Cuban citizens. As it had announced in June, the Trump Administration has eliminated the individual provision, which was the exception most frequently used by American boaters.

The other four marinas on the new restricted list are: Marina Gaviota Cabo de San Antonio (Pinar del Rio), Marina Gaviota Cayo Coco (Jardines del Rey), Marina Gaviota Las Brujas (Cayos de Villa Clara) and Marina Gaviota Puerto Vita (Holguín).


The key word is “Gaviota,” which means “seagull” in Spanish. Gaviota is a subsidiary of the Cuban military, which is heavily invested in the tourism sector. Besides marinas, Gaviota operates most of the major hotels and owns tour bus and taxi companies and even a rum distillery.

Marina Hemingway in Havana, the island nation’s second biggest marina, is not affected by the new rules because it is operated by the Marlin Group under the Ministry of Tourism, not the military. This would seem to be a distinction without a difference in an authoritarian nation in which the minister of tourism reports to President Raul Castro, just like the military.

Other unaffected Marlin Marinas are at Santiago, Cienfuegos, Cayo Largo and Varadero, the latter being about 12 miles from the big Gaviota facility also located on the Hicacos Peninsula. (There's one at Tarara, too, but last time I visited the entrance was blocked due to shoaling.)

Putting the Vita and Cabo San Antonio facilities off limits will put some long-range cruisers in a quandry. Puerto Vita is the first port of entry on Cuba’s North Coast for vessels coming from the east. And Cabo San Antonio is the first port of entry for those coming from Mexico or other places in the Western Caribbean."
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