A Cruiser Talks Cuba By Fred Braman
ike all cruisers, I love miles to Varadero and telling other cruisers about Marina Gaviota east of great destinations. I’ve told Havana, where we cleared my stories in the pages of into the country, and then SOUTHWINDS Magazine, where the 140 NM voyage along my “cruise to” articles periCuba’s north central coast to odically appear. I’m a little the lovely island of Cayo forward about cruiser outLevisa, west of Havana. Last reach and carry a selection of is the 120 NM return to the magazines aboard my Marathon from Marina Catalina 30, Rhombus, to hand Hemingway near Havana, out to cruisers I meet along the Capt. Fred (back seat red hat) and crew Trevor Rhody (front seat where we cleared out of the way. Lately, I’ve talked to passenger), and Frank Peri (to Fred’s left), and the driver, country after a terrific stay. cruiser groups about my 2016 Alejandro, prepare to continue our tour in our replacement “clas- With the 14 consecutive-day voyage to Cuba, a subject of sic” 1954 Ford, while our first ride, a 1951 Pontiac waits for a tow! visit limit for U.S. citizens, Photo by Cuban photographer Vlad. great interest along the waterour route could not have front. The speaking invitations been better. I show lots of have resulted from my threephotos of the places we visitpart Cuba series in SOUTHed, including our “classic WINDS, where I also offered to car” tour of Havana, the share the experience. Cuban countryside, and the Since travel to Cuba was Hemingway Villa in the denied to U.S. citizens for mountains. Throughout it decades, I start my talks with a all, the warmth and charm of short description of travel the Cuban people and their legalities and trip planning. hope for improved U.S.Legal aspects are fairly simple: Cuban relations, was loud we can now go if we follow and clear. certain requirements. Cuba Captain Fred addresses a small group at the Marina at Ortega I conclude the discussion bound travelers must fit into Landing, Jacksonville, Florida. Photo by Monica Kruse. with a range of topics that one of 12 self-certifying cateare always the object of quesgories, with a matching program that meets the requiretions: the clearing in/out process was quick and professional ments. With categories like “Education or Religious in both countries; there are restrictions on where cruisers in Activities,” “Athletic and other Competitions,” and “Support Cuba can go; the purchase of inexpensive Cuban health insurfor the Cuban People,” most interested travelers can meet ance is usually required; currency exchange can be accompolicy standards. Also required is the submission of one plished virtually anywhere; credit cards or ATMs rarely form, US Coast Guard Application for Permit to Enter Cuban work; forget using cell phones; good Wi-fi is difficult to find; Territorial Seas – CG 3300. It’s not a difficult document and you can bring home Cuban rum and cigars within limits; and speedy approval is routine. I’ve put together an article, everybody on board must have a Small Vessel Reporting Authorization for Cuban Travel, based on official governSystem (SVRS) Card, obtainable from US Customs. In keeping ment websites which I have found (listed in the article), with current realities, my talks now include a short political which summarizes the travel rules. I update the article as statement. SOUTHWINDS Magazine published my “letter to the changes in the program occur, and I’m happy to send it to editor,” in the January 2017 edition; my personal protest of a anyone upon request. proposed regression in, what I believe to be, our previously Next up in the presentation is a description of the enlightening Cuba policy. actual voyage, starting with the differences in crossing a In closing, Cuba and the Cubans are wonderful. Going west-to-east flowing Gulf Stream (to/from Cuba), rather there is well worth the time and effort, especially in your own than the crossing more familiar to most: the south-to-north boat! If I can help you get to Cuba, please let me know. flowing Gulf Stream (to/from the Bahamas). All cruisers know that strong winds and opposing strong currents Captain Fred Braman, USN (ret), completed his Cuba voyage in don’t get along. The prevailing SE winds are your friend June 2016. Read his three-part series in the October, November and when crossing to the Bahamas, not so when crossing to December 2016 back issues at www.SouthwindsMagazine.com. The articles can be downloaded from a link in the left column of the Cuba. In the Bahamas case, the weather wait is for a typihome page. Fred is available to talk to cruising groups and will cal day, in the Cuba case, a non-typical day. My wait was answer questions at any time. The above-mentioned document three days in both directions. (Authorization for Cuban Travel) will be provided on request. ConMost of the rest of the talk is a “travelogue,” of our cruise tact Captain Fred at email@example.com or 904-866-6862. from Marathon in the central Keys: sailing the 88 nautical
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