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Old 13-03-2012, 05:40   #1
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North Carolina to Guatamala

I havesailing vessel to been asked to help move a sailing vessel from Beaufort NC to Guatamala with stops in Cuba and then to Belize.I have never done this before and was curious about leaving the KEYS and heading towards Cuba.Most people have said go through the bahamas ,but the owner says many people leave out of the Keys.
Comments appreciated.
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Old 13-03-2012, 06:47   #2
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Re: North Carolina to Guatamala

Why not leave from the keys, but head through the windward passage, beacuse you'll be fighting the gulf stream the entire trip which wouldn't be too fun.
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Old 13-03-2012, 06:48   #3
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Re: North Carolina to Guatamala

I meant if you went the western route
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Old 13-03-2012, 07:29   #4
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Re: North Carolina to Guatamala

I'd be concerned about travel and commerce restriction between US and Cuba. An executive order signed in 2004, I believe, compells USCG to seize any boat with the capability and intent to go to Cuba from US waters.

If you're a non-US flagged boat, you could go to the Bahamas then I'd imagine, Cuba. If you're US flagged, your boat could be seized in any waters if your intent were to go to Cuba.
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Old 13-03-2012, 08:08   #5
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Re: North Carolina to Guatamala

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Originally Posted by BEENONLAND View Post
I havesailing vessel to been asked to help move a sailing vessel from Beaufort NC to Guatamala with stops in Cuba and then to Belize.I have never done this before and was curious about leaving the KEYS and heading towards Cuba.Most people have said go through the bahamas ,but the owner says many people leave out of the Keys.
Comments appreciated.

Most boats get down here to Belize/Guatemala via the Keys-Isla Mujeres route. If you run in close to Cuba you can get out of the axis of the stream and maybe pick-up some a favorable counter-current, but be careful -- the reefs are plentiful off the northern coast. And of course, so is the USCG.

Re sailing route to Cuba. The route from the Dry Tortugas to Havana gives you a slightly favorable angle on the Stream. Best to catch the NW wind shift from a front and then it is a sleigh ride all the way. Easy sail, but of course you have potentially bigger legal issues to consider.

I took a different route in 2005: Bahamas-Jamaica-Bay Islands-Belize-Guatemala. When sailing through the Windward Passage, just west of the shipping lanes, I was in close enough to have a very nice view of the eastern coast of Cuba. I was dreaming about visiting Cuba again -- at that moment a USCG helicopter appeared only about 100 feet off the water -- the side door was open and a Coastie was sitting there starring at me sternly -- as if to say "don't even dream about it". Mind reading radar?

Alternatively, stopping in the Caymans may make this route a bit shorter (have not verified this).

I legally visited Cuba in 2001, but I would be very reluctant to make that trip now (maybe a bit less reluctant than when Duh W was in power). I think a US citizen, or US flagged vessel, visiting Cuba now is taking a much bigger risk (without explicit permission). I also hear that non-US Citizens are now being denied entry into the US if there is evidence they visited Cuba.
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Old 13-03-2012, 08:18   #6
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Re: North Carolina to Guatamala

If you are coming around the eastern end of Cuba the Caymans make a good stop enroute to Guatemala, from there you can take a break at Swan Island and then on to Roatan and finally Guatemala.

There are no problems for a non US boat going to the USA from Cuba, sometimes a few raised eyebrows but no legal repercussions. Indeed we obtained our USA B1 visas in Havana at the US embassy!!!
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Old 13-03-2012, 16:20   #7
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Re: North Carolina to Guatamala

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Originally Posted by annk View Post
. . . There are no problems for a non US boat going to the USA from Cuba, sometimes a few raised eyebrows but no legal repercussions. Indeed we obtained our USA B1 visas in Havana at the US embassy!!!

There is NO U.S. Embassy in Cuba. What is in Cuba is a "US Interests Section." From the US Interests Section in Havana's website:

The U.S. Interests Section (USINT) is in the former United States Embassy building that was built by Harrison Abramovitz architects and opened in 1953. The 6-story building was reopened in 1977, renovations were completed in 1997.
The functions of USINT are similar to those of any U.S. government presence abroad: Consular Services, a Political and Economic Section, a Public Diplomacy Program, and Refugee Processing unique to Cuba.


It would be interesting to know when (what year) "AnnK" visited there and got their US Visa B1/B2.

And according to the same US Interests Section the wait time for a non-immigrant visa is 2 years or more. Reality is often times quite different from what is published, so it would be interesting to know how "Annk" got around that problem.

But anyway, the OP was asking about routes to Guatemala from the USA. One of the most popular routes is the run down Florida to Key West and then to the Dry Tortugas. From there the boats I know, crossed to 12 nm north of the north coast of Cuba and proceeded west to Cabo San Antonnio, Cuba then crossed the Yucatan Channel to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Then ran the southern coastline of the Yucatan to Belize and then Guatemala.

A longer route is to sail to the Bahamas and Great Inagua. The sail to Port Antonnio, Jamaica. Then west to Montego Bay, Jamaica or direct to the Cayman Islands. From there you can choose to go via Swann Island to the Bay Islands and then to Guatemala - or - from the Caymans to Swann and then the Bay Islands and on to Guatemala.
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Old 13-03-2012, 17:37   #8
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Re: North Carolina to Guatamala

We got our visas in 2009, asked the taxi to take us to the US embassy.....

Don't know if it has a different name in America but its certainly known as the US embassy in Cuba!

Arrived about 10am one morning, we were ushered to the head of the queue
immediately presented our boat papers and filled in a couple of forms. Handed over the photos that we had bought with us. Asked to return the next day when we were fingerprinted, chatted to for around 5 mins by an official and then presented with our completed 10 year visas. That's all there was to it. It cost us $125 each(as I recall).

MANY cruisers obtain their visas in Havana for the US, we are certainly not unusual or unique in any way :-)
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Old 13-03-2012, 18:03   #9
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Re: North Carolina to Guatamala

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Originally Posted by annk View Post
We got our visas in 2009, asked the taxi to take us to the US embassy. . .
That's great - and it is only "politics" that causes the name change from US Embassy to "US Interests Section." As with most things these days what is really happening is a lot of times not what is "published."

Did you fill out the Visa application on the internet? Supposedly from Jun 2010 all applicants for a "tourist/ B-1/B-2" visa have to fill out the application form DS-160 on the internet and then have a friend or somebody inside the USA get the appointment date. This procedure is posted here: Nonimmigrant Visas | United States Interests Section Havana, Cuba

But it seems that the OP is merely "riding along" on a boat of unknown nationality with people of unknown nationality. So there is a lot of missing as to whether he will have problems setting foot on Cuban soil or what will happen to him if the USCG stops the boat and inspects it. Chances are slim that he will have any problems, but if by some quirk of fate, he draws official attention to himself, he could be in for a long stretch of hassles when he returns to the USA.
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Old 13-03-2012, 18:21   #10
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Re: North Carolina to Guatamala

No. no internet form filling. It would have been pretty nigh impossible in Cuba as there were virtually no internet cafes!

I understood that it was OK to go to Cuba as a US national provided no money is spent, is this no longer the case?

We saw a number of USA flagged vessels when we were there, all intending to go to another country, or two, before returning to the USA...
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Old 13-03-2012, 20:00   #11
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Re: North Carolina to Guatamala

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Originally Posted by annk View Post
. . . I understood that it was OK to go to Cuba as a US national provided no money is spent, is this no longer the case?. . .
That is the crux of the situation, legally a US citizen can travel to Cuba but under US Regulations he cannot "trade with the enemy." "Trade" being defined as spending money there. The whole mess is hyper-political and a long story that you can read about in several websites.

But the bottom line is the mere presence there means the citizen is spending money according to the US bureaucratic interpretation. And every 4 years when we have a political foodfest of trying to get votes. The Cuban Embargo is tied to the Cuban votes in south Florida. That can result in serious harassment on the citizen from the US Fed's - if - you get their attention and/or piss them off. Hopefully in the next few election cycles the Cuban Embargo will fade away or be rescinded and then US citizens will be able again to travel/visit Cuba.

But currently, if the OP does stop there on the way to Guatemala, he is taking a risk of having a pissed off bureaucrat go after him. It could involve years of legal costs and other stuff that a government can do to a citizen if he sets foot on Cuban soil. Logic and rationality are not known to be the strong points of political empires.

Just like that the risk of hitting something in an ocean crossing is very, very small, so is getting caught visiting Cuba. So some folks decide to go ahead and take that risk and others don't want to push their luck and avoid traveling to Cuba.
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Old 14-03-2012, 07:22   #12
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Re: North Carolina to Guatamala

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Originally Posted by annk View Post
...
There are no problems for a non US boat going to the USA from Cuba, sometimes a few raised eyebrows but no legal repercussions. Indeed we obtained our USA B1 visas in Havana at the US embassy!!!
Not so much an issue with US vessels, but with US Citizens visiting Cuba (obviously if you are applying for an B1 visa you are not). There have been fines levied against US citizens visiting Cuba in the past and the organizers of the Havana Cup were run through the legal grist mill during Duh W's last re-election campaign.

Fines I know of have typically "only" ranged from about $7,500 - 10,000 of the possible $250,000.
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Old 15-03-2012, 05:29   #13
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Re: North Carolina to Guatamala

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Originally Posted by osirissail View Post
There is NO U.S. Embassy in Cuba. What is in Cuba is a "US Interests Section." From the US Interests Section in Havana's website:

The U.S. Interests Section (USINT) is in the former United States Embassy building that was built by Harrison Abramovitz architects and opened in 1953. The 6-story building was reopened in 1977, renovations were completed in 1997.
The functions of USINT are similar to those of any U.S. government presence abroad: Consular Services, a Political and Economic Section, a Public Diplomacy Program, and Refugee Processing unique to Cuba.


It would be interesting to know when (what year) "AnnK" visited there and got their US Visa B1/B2.

And according to the same US Interests Section the wait time for a non-immigrant visa is 2 years or more. Reality is often times quite different from what is published, so it would be interesting to know how "Annk" got around that problem.

But anyway, the OP was asking about routes to Guatemala from the USA. One of the most popular routes is the run down Florida to Key West and then to the Dry Tortugas. From there the boats I know, crossed to 12 nm north of the north coast of Cuba and proceeded west to Cabo San Antonnio, Cuba then crossed the Yucatan Channel to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Then ran the southern coastline of the Yucatan to Belize and then Guatemala.

A longer route is to sail to the Bahamas and Great Inagua. The sail to Port Antonnio, Jamaica. Then west to Montego Bay, Jamaica or direct to the Cayman Islands. From there you can choose to go via Swann Island to the Bay Islands and then to Guatemala - or - from the Caymans to Swann and then the Bay Islands and on to Guatemala.
Yes I am only the crew.I at the moment am in Palm Beach working and was contacted by the owner of the vessel if I was interested.Having never done the trip from Florida to Guatemala I was curious as to the different approaches to the destination.
Thanks for the feedback it really helps me a bunch.
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Old 15-03-2012, 13:33   #14
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Re: North Carolina to Guatamala

Since your question was about the route to get to Guatemala, we used a slightly different approach which worked fine for us. From Key West we went west into the Gulf of Mexico until north of Isla Mujeras and then turned south to Isla. This route avoided having to work against any currents and we did not have to cross both the Gulf Stream and the Yucatan Channel. We posted the trip on our website and the crossing here, Voyages of Sea Trek: Let It Begin Florida Keys to Guatemala . It can be a great trip if you don't try and keep to a schedule. Chuck
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