Yacht Pilot’s Cruising Guide to Cuba Volume 1, Varadero to Trinidad By Capt. Cheryl Barr Review by Steve Morrell
anadian author Cheryl Barr has spent over a dozen seasons in Cuba sailing aboard a 62-foot Herreshoff schooner. She wrote the article in this issue of SOUTHWINDS about the possibility of Cuba opening up to American cruisers, telling me that she would be in Cuba again this winter. As you go through this book, you want to go. She sent me better photos for the SOUTHWINDS article than are in this book, which has few photos (but lots of great map drawings), and those photos really invited me—someone who was brought up swimming, diving and surfing in Southern California. I’ve done a lot of diving in the Keys, but Cuba, considering its size, compared to the Keys, must be a huge paradise for diving and finding remote anchorages. Plus, it is mountains combined with tropical waters—an enticing combination. This Volume I covers Cuba from Varadero—which is pretty much south of Marathon—going west towards Cuba’s western tip and around the south coast and east to Trinidad, a point that’s south and a bit east of Varadero. (Volume II will cover the rest of the island.) The book starts with a discussion in two chapters about planning a cruise to Cuba, different routes of getting to the island nation, papers needed for entry, currency, charts, communications, buoys, weather, electronic aids to navigation,
fuel, propane, etc.—she even covers mosquitoes. Barr has broken down the area covered on the island into eight sections, each a chapter. The coverage heads west, the first segment being from Varadero to Marina Hemingway (next to Havana). As Barr goes through each section, she covers what the coastal cruise is like, where to enter bays and anchorages, dangers to watch out for (like reefs), currents and tides, and strategies for going both eastbound and westbound in a section. She has good, simple map drawings of anchorages showing where to anchor, depths, shallows, etc. Each little spot in the area covered includes lat and long and descriptions from a boater’s point of view. This is not all navigation, although it is a serious cruising guide. She also describes the land and what’s available on land, with a little history thrown in. I was lucky to get this book for free to review, since I would only buy it if I had plans or was giving serious consideration to cruising to Cuba. I got to read it anyway, but it’s not armchair cruising. It’s a practical guide with some armchair stuff in it. Hopefully, I will one day get to really use it. It will sell you on going. Americans have a right to travel to Cuba. We should not let others take that legal right away from us.
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