14 September 2015

Cruising Daydreams | Cuba

When I'm not thinking about where I'm going to store all the dead bodies on our boat (more on that later this week), then I'm daydreaming about where we might go cruising once hurricane season is over. The extent of our plan so far is to point the boat south and head to the Caribbean. I know, the detail of our plan is overwhelming. It's just almost too much to absorb in one sitting.

Generally, we're not big planners when it comes to travel, but I'm thinking we need to do a little bit of research before we head off, especially as we won't always have ready access to the all seeing and all knowing internet. I find I feel less guilty about procrastinating boat projects when I'm asking Google about cruising destinations. In fact, I'm going to write down "cruising research" on my boat project list so that I can cross it off and feel virtuous. What's really more important - fixing the propane system in real feel temps of 110F/43C or sitting inside the air conditioned boat goofing off researching important stuff on the internet?

One of the places we want to go is to Cuba. Our boat, Tickety Boo, has already been there with her previous owners. She knows the way, she already has a courtesy flag on board and a copy of Nigel Calder's Cuba Cruising Guide. We've added Cuba onto our boat insurance and now that I've done a little online research, we're good to go! Of course neither of us speaks Spanish, so I might need to add learning Spanish onto our boat project list too.

So, if you thinking about traveling to Cuba whether by boat or plane, here's a few links to some of the sites I've found in my intensive research. I thought I'd share, just in case you have any projects that you just can't bear doing and need some procrastination inspiration. 

Cruising: Bound for Cuba - Interesting article in Sail Magazine about an American couple's trip to Cuba after Obama announced normalization of American relations with Cuba. I like the description of how, when they cleared into Cuba, a doctor wearing latex gloves came onboard with a big smile and a kiss for the missus.

Sailing in Cuba - Article in Cruising World about some folks who went to Cuba "almost legally" and uninsured (it can be difficult to get insurance for an American flagged boat). My big takeaway is that you'll make a lot of friends if you're up to date on the latest baseball news. And on that note, Scott would probably want me to mention that the Minnesota Twins are currently one game away from the playoffs. Go Twins.

Romping & Nguyening - I first came across Jean Nguyen's blog when we were traveling cross-country in our Scamp travel trailer. Jean and her partner also have a Scamp and did the US road trip thing too, so it was fun to read about their adventures. They recently traveled to Cuba (without their Scamp) and did a series of blog posts on their adventures. Jean's got an interesting perspective on Cuba - she talks about how Cubans reacted to her being an East Asian, all the scammers they encountered and how there were times they couldn't wait to get the heck out of Cuba. It's worth checking her blog out to get a take on land adventures in Cuba, however, be warned that she uses some "naughty" language so if that isn't your thing, then you might want to skip it.

MJ Sailing - I think Jessica's blog was the first account I had read of Americans cruising to Cuba. Matt and Jessica spent a week there in 2013 and Jessica has a series of amusing blog posts on their time there. My favorite one is when she describes the time their cat Georgie jumped overboard and dangled above the water in her leash and  harness. Now I don't feel so bad about the time Georgie unexpectedly jumped down through my companionway while I was trying to untangle her leash, dangled a foot above the floor and spun around in circles for what seemed like ages while I tried to get her free. 

Yacht Mollymawk - The crew of Mollymawk has a series of blog posts about their experiences cruising in Cuba in 2010.

Sailing & Cruising: Cuba Facebook Group - Run by Wally Moran, this is a great place to ask questions and get advice from folks who have cruised extensively in Cuba. 

The Sailing Podcast - One of the things I like to do when I'm working on indoor boat projects (yes, sometimes I actually do something) is to listen to podcasts. David Anderson did an interesting interview with Wally Moran where he talks about his experiences cruising in Cuba. While you're there, you can also check out a podcast I did with David a couple of years ago when Scott and I were getting ready to become full-time cruisers. 

Free Cruising Guide - You have to like anything that has "free" in its title. I've heard good things about Amaia Agirre & Frank Virgintino's cruising guide and now that I've managed to download it, I'm looking forward to checking it out. 

Noonsite - Great place to get recent updates from cruisers who have been there, done that in Cuba. On a semi-related note, Noonsite has a link to our blog post about Mediterranean fanworm in the New Zealand section. Nothing to do with Cuba, but it was kind of fun to see that we made Noonsite. If you're really in the mood to procrastinate, you'll definitely want to check it out. 

Sailing to Cuba -This article on the Spinsheet website talks about the red tape involved in traveling to Cuba for Americans.

Impetuous Too - An interesting blog post about the crew of Impetuous Too's visit to Cuba in 2014. They point out that none of their photos are edited. The colors you see are the colors they saw. It isn't too often you see unfiltered photos these days.

No Land in Sight - The crew from SV Bueller sailed from the Exumas to Cuba in 2015. 

Cruising in Cuba - The Barr family have sailed to Cuba every winter for the past 17 years and their website provides cruising notes, information about marinas and tips on traveling to Cuba by boat. Cheryl has also written a Cruising Guide to Cuba which you can buy. If anyone has a copy, I'd be curious to know what you think about it.  

Sundowner Sails Again - Dani and Tate visited Cuba in February 2015, sailing from Key West to Havana. Fascinating blog posts - I particularly liked the description of the old classic cars and suggestions for what to bring as gifts for Cubans. 

Trawler Beach House - Check out Chuck and Susan's blog posts about cruising along the southern coast of Cuba and the impact of changes in US-Cuba relations on boaters.

Voyages of Three Pennyopera - Pat and Addison have got a number of great blog posts from their travels to Cuba, including a fascinating one on what provisioning is like there. They've also written a great article in Cruising Outpost on how the forbidden fruit, that is Cuba, is ripening fast. 

Blue Water Sailing - Christine Myers spent a season exploring Cuba and has written a three part series on Blue Water Sailing on her explorations of the south side of Cuba. You can also find links to the articles on her personal website. 

Twelve Types of Procrastinators - If you're still reading this blog post, then I'm pretty sure you're procrastinating something that needs to be done. Want to procrastinate just a little bit longer? Check out this cartoon on different types of procrastinators. I can relate to pretty much all of them. What kind are you?

Do you have any Cuba travel resources to share? If so, leave details in the comments section, send us an email or connect with us on Facebook!

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  1. Thanks for all the good info. I'm booking marking this post. It'll make my research a little easier if we decide to go there one day.

    1. Reading everyone else's blogs and articles is leading to some serious daydreaming on my part. Hopefully, we'll get to Cuba one day.

  2. We have a power boat and it's not big enough for that long of a haul. I don't think so anyway. How fun.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. I think Cuba would be incredible to visit. It's fun to daydream - hopefully, we'll get there one day!

  3. Thanks for all the good links. We had read the free cruising guide and it is very detailed and well written. Our plan is to sail south to the Bahamas in the fall. In the summer of 2016, we'll probably hang in St. Petersburg FL for the summer (great city, cheap, and safe in hurricane season). We will then go to Cuba and then to and continue on to the lower Caribbean from there. Very easy from the southern side of Cuba

    Mark and Cindy
    s/v Cream Puff.

    1. Sounds like a great plan. Here's hoping our paths cross in the Bahamas this year!

  4. Hoping to have our own Cuba stories to add next year! And meanwhile, what a great roundup of experiences. Thank you - see you there?!

    1. We'll keep an eye out for you ;-) Can't wait to have my own Cuban stories too!

  5. Thanks for this list! We are planning a trip to the Western Caribbean this winter and are considering Cuba. Here are some helpful blogs I have found: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/vidaDUlce/?xjMsgID=357313 - this one gives a good description of the checking in process. http://bloggingtheicw.blogspot.com/2015/06/cuba-you-got-questions-weve-got-answers.html - Wally's blog - he answers a few questions. http://pinknblueview.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-blue-view-notes-on-cruising-in-cuba.html - some good general info in this blog. http://winniesails.com/2015/05/08/key-west-to-san-pedro-belize-the-long-overdue-update/ - Three kids who traveled to Cuba earlier this year.

    1. Thanks Duwan! I'll check these and add them to the list!

  6. Thanks for linking to my blog post about Cuba, and thanks for putting up with my "naughty" language. =D Chris and I laughed so hard when we read that.

    I also just read your About page and I just have to mention that we plan on eloping in Copenhagen in a couple months too...wow, looks like we've accidentally followed your footsteps. We're embarking on a 6-month European road trip soon and we're starting with eloping. Yay!

    1. Yeah, I thought I should put a "disclaimer" on it in case anyone was offended by "naughty" language :-)

      I first found your blog through your Scamp adventures (we have one too) and have been enjoying your non-Scamp adventures like your time in Cuba.

      Congrats on the upcoming elopement and European honeymoon/road trip!! That's so great! Curious - why did you decide to elope to Copenhagen? We did it simply because it was the easiest option at the time in terms of paperwork, waiting period etc.

      Can't wait to read about the wedding and upcoming adventures.

    2. We have been planning to go on a 6-month backpacking trip to Europe from Feb thru Aug, and just this past fall I casually said, "Hey we should get married on Feb. 29 so we can have an anniversary every 4 years. When is the next leap year?" We looked it up and saw that the next leap year is 2016! Then we looked up "easiest country in Europe to get married" and Denmark came up. We've already paid the examination fee and submitted paperwork to lock the date.

      Love your blog, especially the polar bears!!

    3. That's too funny that you're getting married in Denmark because it's easy - just like we did.

      Have fun - hopefully you'll understand what they say in the ceremony. Because it was all in Danish, I'm still unclear as to what I agreed to. Scott swears that one of my vows was to be a lifelong follower of the Minnesota Twins :-)

  7. Blue Water Sailing
    July, August, September, 2015
    My 3-part series on the south side of Cuba.
    links available on website.


    1. Thanks so much for the link! I'll add it to the blog post.

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