You Can Check Out Any Time You Want

As long as it isn't American-flagged, a boat can visit Cuba for years without being subject to importation duty. But a Tourist Card, the Cuban equivalent of a visa, is valid for only 30 days. It can be renewed once, a process that can take an hour or three days. After that, you have to leave.

Cuban Provisioning: Huevos Particulares


     The bean vendor sizes me up before sidling over.


     At the agropecuario, fresh-picked, perfect pineapples and papayas are displayed alongside guavas and grated coconut; garlic and onions nestle among other sofrito essentials, cachuca peppers and culantro; pumpkins and dried beans are piled with malanga and boniato.

Ode to Cuban Mechanics

Cuban mechanics can fix anything, using nothing.

              No matter how carefully maintained, something on a cruising boat will always need fixing. So what happens when an American-made boat needs work in Cuba? The 55-year-old embargo on commerce makes it impossible to air ship replacement parts. There’s duty-free shipping to Grand Cayman, but it requires an expensive flight to pick up the package.

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Cruising Cuba: Dinghy Diaries

The  beach at Cienfuegos marina. Club Recreativo and charter catamarans in background.
The  landing beach at Cienfuegos marina. Club Recreativo and charter catamarans in background.

          When I arrived at Cienfuegos, the Guarda Frontera who dinghied out to meet me came armed with a new paper to sign. It stated that I understood and would comply with the rules of the marina, i.e. show a light at anchor and agree to take my dinghy out of the water every night.

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Cruising Cuba: Learning the Rules

In Cuba, officials never arrive alone. Ordinary citizens aren’t allowed on foreign boats without the Port Captain’s permission, and then they use the buddy system.

The first to board is the doctor. He leaves his shoes on the dock, covers his stocking feet with cloth booties and asks permission, then swings a leg over the rail. After checking on the general wellbeing of the entire crew — nothing more serious than seasickness and a slight cold — he scans each forehead and records temperatures.

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Cruising Cuba: An Experience in Cuban Health Care

I blame the mayonnaise. I should have tossed it as soon as I noticed it had been left out, not made a tuna sandwich with it.


​A few hours later the vomiting began. It didn’t stop. 

An hour later I was prone on the dock, retching into an otherwise clear bay. The marina’s Cuban security  — as well as others who keep an eye on foreigners – investigated my strange position.

Was something wrong? That seemed to be the case.

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WIll This Be the Year?


Feb 12, 2015