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Clearing into Eastern Cuba at Puerto de Vita

By Ron & Ineke Heyselaar — last modified Jun 15, 2015 02:18 PM

Published: 2015-05-30 23:00:00
Countries: Cuba

Early April 2015

We cleared at Marina de Vita (East Cuba) arriving from Puerto Rico. This port is the most easterly port of entry on the north coast of Cuba. The clearance and marina arrangements were very efficient.

Once in contact with the Guarda Frontera, we were directed to proceed to the marina. Within 10 minutes of this conversation, the harbor master of the marina called asking for more details of the yacht and whether we needed further assistance.

The entrance channel to the inlet is a bit narrow but well marked (in daylight only). Three of our electronics charts (Jeppesen, Navionics and Garmin) were inaccurate in some form or another. Only our paper charts (NV charts) were very accurate showing the channel and the marina entrance correctly.

Upon request, the marina sent a speedboat to direct us through the channel leading to the marina (not showing on the electronic charts – consistent depth of 5 meters), which was actually very obvious once we were near the marina. The especially dredged and maintained channel to the marina is wide and very well marked.

Clearance

As we still needed to clear in and pass the health inspection, we were politely asked to anchor off the marina. Good holding (heavy mud) and, as the marina is very well protected, very flat (at 25 knots only a ripple).

Within 30 minutes, the doctor was ferried to Lily. Obtaining the all clear took less than 20 minutes upon which we were asked to lower the Q flag. As we arrived at the end of the afternoon, we were asked to remain at anchor until the following morning.

At 9AM we were asked to come to the marina with Lily. The mooring is Med style with good anchor balls and a solid quay. Plenty of people to help including the officials awaiting our arrival.

The clearing procedure is changed, with most functions but the health and vet checks combined with the Guarda Frontera function. After the usual paperwork, which was not worse than we experienced at some other Caribbean Islands, we were issued the visa for 30 days.

Marina de Vita - Facilities

The marina is clean, no rodents, only a few insects from the mangroves and the staff very helpful. It is a bit isolated so a rental car would be recommended. Provisioning is complicated (normal in Cuba) but some essentials are available at the marina or in the CUC stores in Holquin (20 km away – car or taxi needed).

It is possible to obtain funds either by credit card (if non US issued or MasterCard) at a 3% commission or by exchanging cash (US dollars incur an additional 10% fee – not 20% as stated elsewhere). Banks in bigger cities have ATM disbursing CUC at a 3% fee. ATM work well but normally have some queues (it’s Cuba after all).

Departure

Having informed the marina staff (who functions as coordinators with the officialdom) that we intended to leave the next day at 10AM, the Guarda Frontera officer duly showed up at exactly 10AM to issue our cruising permit. We were allowed to stop at any official marina or anchor at any unpopulated location on the North Coast (of which there are plenty). The cruising permit costs were included in the CUC 55 we paid at clearing in, which included all clearing in services.

Overall, the experience so far with the Cuban officialdom was very pleasant, efficient and quick. They do everything by the book, so it is essential to have your paperwork in good order and have your equipment well documented (we had a list prepared listing the serial numbers of all major equipment onboard. Not requested but handy to prepare the list).

Ron & Ineke Heyselaar
SY LILY (Amel 54)

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Puerto de Vita
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