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Cruise-along 14-07-2009 21:35

Cuba Cruising - Winter 2010
We are making preliminary plans for Cuba cruising next winter for a couple of months. Currently we are in Grenada and plan to sail via the ABC's then to Jamaica or sail up the Windward/Leewards then east. We plan to summer 2010 in central America probably Guatemala. I am not American so I do not need to figure out how to get around Helms-Burton. I feel the best cruising is the south coast but would love to hear from others who have some experience or interest and ideas.

osirissail 15-07-2009 08:26

You can Google - sailing Cuba, cruising Cuba, etc. to see hundreds of discussions about sailing around Cuba. The south shore is more popular because of the settled weather but the north shore is more interesting with good fishing, diving and little harbors. There are lots of rules and regulations about where you can go and the procedures are all well discussed in many forums.
For some other good Cuba info see: Home

2DMagic 21-08-2009 19:12

Looking to talk to other American Cruisers that have information about sailing to Cuba. Does anyone know what the policies are and what officials do you contact to get information.

osirissail 21-08-2009 19:51

Basically nothing has changed. All the laws are the same regarding USA citizens going to Cuba. The only difference is the USCG and other officials would rather not be bothered with hassling you over going there. Generally the practical answer on their part is don't tell and we won't ask. However, do not get into trouble that will draw attention to yourself and you will not get any hassles.
- - All the Congressional bills, etc. to remove the restrictions are still in Congress and don't hold your breathe waiting for them to get acted on. Maybe next year or the year after. . .

lorenzo b 23-08-2009 10:01

We are planning on pushing off in a month or so from La. and are thinking of Cuba this winter. We are in a large trawler that you may or may not want to be near. Couldn't care less what the latest US policy is.

canucksailor 30-09-2009 09:58

Hello Cruisealong - I will be speaking at the Annapolis Boat Show, 11th and 12, Merriot Hotel, on cruising Cuba. I sailed the north coast last winter, will be doing the south coast this year. If there's any way I can help or information I can provide, let me know.
I am told by Aubrey and his wife from Veleda IV (read Gam on Yachting for more) and others that the south coast is not nearly so regimented as the north and that you can go days and days without checking in with the Guarda.
The big issue for me was that you cannot leave your boat at anchor without someone on it - as a singlehander, that meant I couldn't leave the boat at all. I recommend to people that they explore the cays, but when they want to get to shore, go to an international marina, tie up and then either use bikes and buses and stay at casa particularas (b&b), or rent a car, and explore the areas around the marina. Friends of mine from Australia on a Hunter 47 did this and were quite pleased with how it went.

annk 04-10-2009 16:39

Last year we cruised the south coast, and had a ball!

Nigel Calder's Cruising guide to Cuba was excellent, if a bit dated.

The south coast is pretty remote in places and provisions can be hard to come by, leave well stocked up.

We found the paperwork a little time consuming but done with great humour and courtesy. take bars of soap to trade with, no US dollars, they prefer Canadian dollars and euros.

renewing our visa's after 30 days took a bit of time but was fine. We even managed to get US visa's in Havana!

Oh and the people are delightful. have fun

canucksailor 04-10-2009 18:29

WRONG WRONG WRONG. Do NOT take Canadian money. You will get charged 40% when you exchange it. US$ are subject to 20%, and US dollars were accepted everywhere I went. They are easily changed at the cadeca (money changers).
I took the Cdn money advice before I went and regretted it. As for stuff to trade with, soap, yes, anything for kids, toothpaste and brushes, anything in the personal care line, children's clothing, school supplies (pens, paper, rulers), reading glasses from the dollar store and razors for shaving. All good.

Sea Yawl Later 05-10-2009 06:13

We are planning a trip in January. We never even considered Cuba infact we thought we needed to give Cuba a wide berth? We are cruising neophytes so apparently we were making wrong assumptions. So Americans are welcomed or tolerated? I don't speak Spanish but bought Rosetta Stone intending to learn and sail from Texas to Mexico and found through forums that the trip we had planned was not a good idea. Consequently, we have changed our direction and going to the Caribbean. We will be passing by Cuba. I don't want to go somewhere we are not welcomed or could be a problem. Thanks!

Panamajames 05-10-2009 06:25

I spent a month in cuba with my boat 10 years ago. Wonderful place with wonderful people.. Diving the best ever. Got sick of eating Lobster though.
I am planning to return for several months early next year. Have fun. Get a cruising guide. They love the Americans there. Marial Hemmingway marina is fabulous. I love Cuba. The friendliest people in the world in my opinion.

canucksailor 05-10-2009 06:40

Cuba has no problem with's the American government that has a problem with Americans coming back from Cuba. You'll be more than welcomed there. And, your passport won't be stamped, they'll give you a printed visa which you'll return when you check out. So if you don't tell, they won't, lol.
Get Nigel Calder's Cruising Guide to Cuba. Get Garmin's electronic charts and contact Bluewater Charts in Ft. Lauderdale for paper charts, because the electronic charts only show detail up to the reefs, not inside. You must have those three items for a safe trip through Cuba. If you plan to explore the country, get something like Lonely Planet. Rental cars are available, but best to tie up at a marina, put your bikes on a bus and stay in a casa particulara (like our bed and breakfasts) and tour the country in the area.
Don't sweat it about the Spanish, most of the Cubans you'll meet speak quite passable English. Don't plan on anchoring out, it isn't permitted in most places and if you do, you aren't permitted to leave without someone staying on the boat. Marinas, no problem but there aren't a lot of them and not all have great facilities. Also - provisioning can be a problem. Bring what you need. See my post above for things to bring to trade with the Cubans.
Best bet for you is to go the south coast - on the north coast, you'll be bucking both the current and the prevailing winds. It makes for a very tough passage. If you want more info, pm me and I'll try to assist you. You can also check my website (, I have some information on cruising Cuba there now and more coming. Also, I have an article coming out in November's SAIL magazine that will interest you.
I'll be on Cuba's south coast this winter, perhaps we can hook up.

osirissail 05-10-2009 07:12

For a USA citizen just be aware that all the old USA restrictions on Cuba are still enforce and recently renewed for another year. The potential for a problem still exists but the reality of actually having a problem seems to be diminishing rapidly as the USA Fed's are losing interest in the subject of enforcement. And especially if your are heading to intermediate countries after Cuba and before entering a USA Island (e.g. Puerto Rico) the probabilities of incurring a problem is even more diminished as the USA officials ask you "where did you depart" you can honestly answer - Dominican Republic. Given all that, it seems like a good time to follow Canucksailor's advice and visit before the hordes from the north arrive after Cuba is officially opened.

canucksailor 05-10-2009 07:22

Ok, all you hordes out there...osirisail is right - and the word I'm getting is that the Obama administration has cut funding for prosecutions. As for hurrying to get there, don't panic too much - there are thousands of miles of unspoiled coastline - although American influence will change some things, the average boater will go to Havana or Varadero, leaving the rest of the coast to cruisers. It is NOT an easy cruise, due to lack of infrastructure for cruising boaters. But it IS worth it.

Cheechako 05-10-2009 08:30

Something must have changed, this month's Sail Mag has an article about a group of 150 boats sailing to Cuba from Sarasota!!

canucksailor 05-10-2009 09:06

Nothing's changed Cheech - I just got off from chatting with the club - they are going through the process for approval, there are 55 boats signed up so far. The 150 number came from, I think, an earlier press release.
I'll try to keep this board updated as I get information on the trip - rather than start a new thread on it, unless circumstances justify doing that.
Anyone who wants the information directly, or wants to read the newsletters, etc. should go to and click on the link to the regatta.


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