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By No owner — last modified Mar 30, 2015 12:34 PM

 Cuba - Profile

Facts

  • In recent years more yachts have begun to visit Cuba as the authorities have started to encourage tourism. Consequently the entry procedures have been modified and yachts may now only clear in at a port of entry that also has a marina facility.
  • Whilst the cruising area is vast, there are restrictions on where you can go. All the small bays on the north coast are closed to yachts and throughout the country it is only possible to go ashore at designated ports where there is a marina or tourist facility. It is still possible however to anchor in remote areas where there are no settlements. The few designated stops are: Puerto Vita, Cayo Coco, Marina Darsena in Varadero, Marina Hemingway, Cayo Levisa, Marina Cabo San Antonio, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, and Santiago.
  • US yachts are not forbidden from cruising in Cuba, but if they do not obtain a licence from the US Treasury Department and permission from the US Coast Guard, they may experience difficulties when returning to the USA (see further details under USA Clearance). This situation may change now that relations between the two countries are improving.
  • Whilst it is perfectly legal for foreign yachts to go directly from Cuba to the USA, if clearing in at Key West it is possible you will experience problems on arrival where immigration officials are said to be "difficult", (reports have been received of cruising permits being denied or taken away). See USA Clearance for further details.
  • Because the island runs in a general SE-NW direction and the prevailing winds are easterly, ideally one should cruise along Cuba's coasts in a counterclockwise direction.
  • Yachting is still in its infancy and as there are very few locally owned sailing boats, repair facilities are limited. Resources to assist yachtsmen are limited or non-existent in most of the country and as a result one must be fairly independent if cruising here.
  • The US still maintains a military base at Guantanamo Bay on the SE extremity of the island. This port should only be entered in an absolute emergency.
  • Although not officially permitted, gifts of clothes, shoes, eye glasses or household items are very welcome by the Cuban people.
  • Recent changes mean that Cubans are now free to travel within their own country, however the cost of transportation for most remains high. On the positive side, any Cuban who has a car is now permitted to drive it as a private taxi.

Security

Tourists are regarded as valued guests for Cuba and the local people will do all they can to help you. There has been no serious crime reported against visiting cruising yachts, however, in Cabo Cruz (along the route to Cienfeugos), there have been several reports of theft from yachts in the anchorage. The anchorage is far from town and people do swim out to the boats.

The Caribbean Safety and Security Net (safetyandsecuritynet@gmail.com) gather information by anchorage or by island, so sailors can plan their cruising in the Caribbean with an eye to appropriate behaviour and precautions wherever they decide to go. Should you have suffered a boarding, robbery or attack on your yacht or have information about a yachting-related security incident, go to the CSSN homepage and click on the "Report an Incident" icon. The associated form is quick and simple to complete and ensures that all the necessary details are reported. The CSSN is the most comprehensive source of Caribbean security incidents against sailors on the net. Remember, it is every cruiser's responsibility to ensure that incidents are reported.

Free Cruising Guides have completed the Caribbean Security Index (CSI) review of 2013 and updated the country ratings. The latest update of the CSI contains new information that may be important to you to “route around crime.”
See this report at http://www.noonsite.com/General/Piracy/caribbean-crime-caribbean-security-index-csi-review-of-2013

Last updated April 2014.

Weather

The climate is subtropical with November to April, the cooler dry season, being the most pleasant. The rest of the year is often humid, rainy and very hot and the hurricane season is from June to November.

Instituto de Meteorologia de la Republica de Cuba (in Spanish)

For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page

Main Ports

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Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 30, 2015 12:34 PM

No, it's not true. This was just confirmed by Wally Moran (Canucksailor - see above) who is in contact with cruisers in Cuba at this time and abreast of the changing situation in Cuba. Immigration will give you a tourist card on arrival. See the Formalities section on Noonsite/Cuba for full details. If you don't have a US visa already, you can get one at the American Interests Section in Havana before leaving there.

Newdawn
Newdawn says:
Mar 26, 2015 12:36 PM

I've heard that a visa card is now required to enter Cuba. We are South African and British. Is this true and if so must one be obtained before arrival? We will be sailing from St. Martin on our way to the States. Many thanks!

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 25, 2015 03:56 PM

As reported on the Yahoo Group - Cruisers Network Online - 22 March, 2015
Taking a US flagged vessel to Cuba

For captains interested in taking their boats to Cuba with an OK from the U.S. Government, the place to start is here:

https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/licensing/simplified-network-application-process-redesign-snap-r

That URL will lead you to the Department of Commerce’s SNAP-R (Simplified Network Application Program-Redesign), a simplified process for getting the paperwork you need for permission to go to Cuba. There are a lot of wickets to navigate, but applications are typically approved or turned down 3-4 weeks after a SNAP-R form is submitted to Commerce. This apparently replaces the old requirements for getting a license to visit Cuba, something that took months.

Keep in mind that (unless I am mistaken) U.S. insurance companies are prohibited from writing insurance to cover U.S. flagged yachts in Cuba, so if you’re hoping to take your boat to Cuba and want it to be insured you’d best make the necessary arrangements.

Canucksailor
Canucksailor says:
Mar 19, 2015 05:34 PM

fyi, as always, if you have questions, you can contact me directly at northchannelsailing@gmail.com

Canucksailor
Canucksailor says:
Mar 19, 2015 05:33 PM

It is perfectly permissible to leave your boat and fly out. Dozens of people do just that. No need to see Escritch, the dockmaster can deal with it. fyi, I've started a Facebook page about Cuba to provide accurate and up to date information on the country. It's Sailing and Cruising: Cuba. Just log into Facebook and search that title.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Dec 18, 2014 02:38 PM

I suggest you contact the Commodore of Marina Hemingway - Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich - yachtclub[at]cnih[dot]mh[dot]tur[dot]cu. He speaks English and can advise on security etc. There's no restriction on how long you can leave a boat in Cuba, so if the flights are reasonable it is probably a good option.

wapiti
wapiti says:
Dec 14, 2014 02:09 PM

We have to leave our boat for about a month and fly to Australia. The best route is via London. It seems the cheapest option is to leave the boat in Hemingway Marina and fly to London. Can anyone comment if it is OK to leave boats in Cuba and travel overseas? Is there a better option in the Caribbean?

Canucksailor
Canucksailor says:
Apr 01, 2014 07:10 PM

The above information regarding pets is incorrect. Provided you enter with the dog's rabies' form, and a certificate of good health within the past five days (ask the vet to not date it), you will have no problems bringing your pet to Cuba. There is NO quarantine, and no requirement for a permit in advance from the Filosanitario. You can tie to a dock. Where do people get this misinformation from anyhow? If you have further questions about Cuba, please contact me directly at northchannelsailing@gmail.com

Daniel Baydreamer
Daniel Baydreamer says:
Mar 16, 2014 12:40 PM

We are in Miami and are planning to sail to Havana! We do have a dog onboard ! Does anyone have any experience with bringing a dog into Cuba? Anything else that is worth knowing about if you are planning to cruise around in Cuba?

Best regards

Daniel

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 07, 2014 02:55 PM

Baracoa is no longer a port of entry, but can still be visited once clearance has been done elsewhere.

yogi
yogi says:
Dec 19, 2013 05:21 PM

We are planning to sail from Port Antonio, Jamaica to Santiago to clear in. Do you know, Sue, is it possible to clear out from Baracoa by the way to Bermuda? Thanks

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Nov 25, 2013 11:03 AM

There is a small marina and a coast guard station, but it is not an official port of entry.
Frank Virgintino

korand
korand says:
Nov 20, 2013 10:08 PM

Port of Entry - Does anyone know if you can clear into Cuba at Nueva Gerona, on the isle of Youth. I will be sailing their directly from Cayman islands.

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