World Class Sailing around Cuba

Cuba goes beyond all sailors' dreams - a favorable, warm climate year-round, steady winds, unique natural beauty and open-minded hospitable people contribute to this as well as the reliable nautical infrastructure, which is receiving well-aimed promotion and extension by the Cuban government. To the sailor, the whole coast and off-lying islands are fully accessible with the only exception of one prohibited area in the vicinity of the infamous "Bay of Pigs", or Playa Girón. Cuban national waters (12 nautical miles off the base line) may not be left and no persons may be taken aboard who are not on the officially approved crew list. About twenty marinas and nautical centers all around Cuba gladly welcome yachts under all flags and offer all conceivable services.

For their own security – and the safety of the ships – Cuba-Diving  requests the guests not to sail at night within the reef areas. However, there is no objection to go for a longer distance in deep waters in the dark or leave early from port or anchor to make a favorable landfall. Who can bring enough time is even invited to circumnavigate the island of Cuba – which would amount to some one and a half thousand nautical miles...

Cienfuegos, La Perla del Sur, the pearl of the south has all services of a modern marina, but also a normal, very vivid Cuban city, an environment of many cultural and natural attractions without the seclusion of a "tourist ghetto": , makes all these requirements meet in an ideal way.

Its geographic situation in the center of a ten-mile-deep bay, with an entrance only some hundred yards wide, early made Cinefuegos an important harbour. Today the port, with sugar for export as its most important product, ranks second only to Havana. Nevertheless, the city could maintain the beauty of its setting as well as its rich architectural heritage from the 19th century. The Teatro Tomás Terry, where Caruso once performed, and the Palacio de Valle, a moorish-styled villa of an early 20th-century sugar tycoon which is nowadays featuring a restaurant, are among Cuba's most famous historical buildings.

Come on our tour-program through history, architecture and surroundings of Cienfuegos...ask us and book with us your excursions!

The Cuban marina chain Cubanacan Nautica operates several marinas all around the Isla Grande Cuba. Marina Cienfuegos is in business since 1984 and has all necessary installations and services, like electricity and water supply to the ship, fuel and gas sale, border, immigrations and customs clearance, restrooms and showers, garbage disposal, card phone for international calls, weather reports and nautical charts and a round-the-clock security and guard service. A further extension of the marina is planned.
Besides, Marina Cienfuegos and Cuba-Diving offers many convenient additions to the yacht charter program. From provisioning service and airport transfers to sightseeing excursions and diving programs - including the rental of equipment and hiring of diving instructors aboard the sailing yachts - local experts are available for all your desires. Advance reservations can be made by Cuba-Diving.

Climate: Cuba lies at the rim of the tropics and therefore has only two "seasons": the (comparatively) drier and cooler between November and April and the (comparatively) warmer and more humid between May and Ocotober, which has dry and paticularly hot stretches in July and August. For our standards, it is always warm with an average January minimum of not less than 18°C and far more than 30°C in August; the sea temperature is never below 24°C – all these being the statistical values of Havana at the "cool" north coast.

Wind: The reliable trade winds are blowing constantly from easterly directions with a tendency to the north in winter and to the south in summer. Wind speed averages at 10 to 15 knots in winter and 5 to 10 knots in summer, when calm times are also possible. Especially where the mountains reach close to the coastline, catabatic effects can be observed to influence the prevailing easterlies. This weather system is subject to two main disturbances: the nortes or northers in winter, violent intrusions of cold air, which affect the nort coast with nominable drops of temperature that cause all Havana to catch a cold and make many harbour entrances virtually impassable. Hurricanes can only arise at water temperatures of more than 27°C in the Atlantic and are therefore limited to the late summer months with a peak in September and October. Modern meteorology is able to predict these tropical storms very reliably.

Tides: Along the whole Cuban coast there are only minor tides which reach a maximum of 0,6 m at he northwest coast. At the south coast we have an irregular semidiurnal tide of less than half a meter, which, however, should be taken into account in island passages and shallow areas. Currents are, except in very narrow passages, very moderate.

Magnetic variation: The local magnetic variation increases from west (Cabo San Antonio in 2000: ca. 1°W) to east (Punta Maisí: ca. 8°W) with an annual increase of ca. 8’W.

Coastal Formation: Even in the age of GPS and chart plotters, the sharp eye of the skipper remains the most important navigational instrument. "Eyeball Navigation" is madatory, most of all the correct recognition and interpretation of the colour shades of the water. An elevated position and polarizing sunglasses are very useful at this "living" coast: coral and mangroves don't stick to navigational mapping and have certainly developed on since the last survey! Outside protected lagoons there can also be a significant movement of the sea in shallow waters. The bottom of the sea rises more or less vertically from a depth of more than a thousand meters to close beyond the surface. The most significant gradient on the whole earth is near the southeast coast of Cuba: from Pico Turquino (1972 m) in the Sierra Maestra down to a depth of more than 7000 m below sea level.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Cuban waters were precisely surveyed and charted with Soviet aid and a hydrographic service was installed. Nautical charts in colour print, depths in meters and texts in English from ICH (Instituto Cubano de Hidrographia) enjoy an excellent reputation and should be preferred to the British and American charts, which are also available. A series of 26 charts (ca. 16 US$ each) in 1:150.000 scale covers the whole island, and there are detailed maps dowm to a scale of 1:5.000. This material is also published in the form of seven "Chart Kits" for pleasure craft, at a price of ca. 50 US$ each and available for example in Havana's Marina Hemingway or in Old Havana's Tienda „El Navegante“: La Habana-Vieja, Calle Mercaderes 115 between Obispo and Obra Pia, Tel. 0053-7- 613625).

There are two excellent Cruising Guides in English language, which complement each other very well by the information contained, so that both can be recommended alike. Both originate in circumnavigations of Cuba by their authors and have an according structure: "The Cruising Guide to Cuba" by Simon Charles has besides the nautical data a lot of general information related to the country, is written in a very sypathetic, personal style and thus also becomes a good general travel guide, its charts sketches are very compehensive, but "only" manually designed in black-and-white. Cartography is the strength of Nigel Calder’s "Cuba – A Cruising Guide", with two-colour charts based on own GPS-based surveys, and nautical information generally is far more detailed here. Both authors clearly indicate what is based on their own observations and what is "second hand" information.

Simon Charles: The Cruising Guide to Cuba; 340 pages; 23x15 cm paperback; 2nd edition.1997; Cruising Guide Publications; Dunedin, Florida; ISBN 0-944428-36-6. $ 24,95 (ca. 31 EUR).

Nigel Calder: Cuba – A Cruising Guide; 260 pages; 28 x 21 cm paperback; 2nd edition 1999; Imray, Laurie, Norie & Wilson; St.Ives, England; ISBN 0-85-288-4133. £ 30,00 (ca. 53 EUR).

Cuba is a travel destination which many guests find surprisingly uncomplicated. No visa or vaccinations are required, so that a trip to Cuba can be started very spontaneously. Who has EUROS / CUC in small denominations will be able to solve most problems very quickly. Cubans are champions in replacing organization by improvisation and perfection by helpfulness every day. The traveller should bring some understanding for this and that the CUC, are a bare necessity for survival. Before it was the US-Dollar.

Documents: A passport, which must be valid for at least six more months, plus a tourist card (25 Euros, sold by us) is sufficient for a stay of up to 30 days and can be prolonged once inside Cuba.

Immigration/Customs: Border clearance combines iron curtain procedures with Carribean charme, quite a change for guests from the "Schengen countries". Your baggage will be X-rayed by Cuban customs at entry and departure, so better observe regulations and allowances, which are within international rules anyway. If one of of the officers - usually directed from the background - searches your bags, he or she will do this with selected friendliness and apologize several times for the inconvenience. Importation of GPS devices, wireless phones, shortwave radios and any satellite equipment is prohibited.

Money: Cuba has three currencies. As a tourist you are most likely to use only one of them: the CUC (Peso Convertible), which buys virtually everything, including foreign products. The "peso convertible", a sort of monopoly money, which is now used all over Cuba. With US-Dollars you still can pay all around, but you will loose about 10% of currency change.The value of the Cuban peso ("moneda nacional") officially is also 1:1 to the dollar, but the actual exchange rate moves around 27:1. In this currency Cubans receive their small salaries of ten to twenty dollars per month. Foreigners can use it when shopping for fruit and vegetables in farmer's markerts. Attention: the "$"-symbol is being used for all three sorts of money.

Change: Cash can be easily changed at banks and money change offices. Traveller's cheques and credit cards issued by American banks cannot be used because of the Amrican blockade, so don't bring American Express, Diners etc. A network of ATMs/cash dispensers is developing.

„Blockade“: The American trade embargo very effectively keeps Cuban goods out of the US, thus causing a severe lack of hard currency in Cuba. However, via Canada and Mexico, Cuba's most important trading partners, all western goods and even original American brands like Coca Cola come into the country. By the way, Americans are under their present law actually allowed to travel to Cuba, but not to spend money there... so don't be surprised to find lots of yachts flying the star-spangled banner in the marinas.

Telephones: There are numerous card-operated direct-dial telephones for international calls. Phone cards are available at 10 US$ and 20 US$. Calls to Europe have become cheaper in the recent years, but are still very expensive. Foreign cellular phones cannot be operated in the Cuban net, but there are mobile phones for rent.

Health/Vaccinations: To enter Cuba, no immunizations are necessary when coming from Europe or North America. Generally recommended protection against tetanus, diphtheria and polio should be renewed. Cuba is malaria-free. Despite a severe lack of imported medicine, the health system enjoys an excellent reputation, hotels have treatment rooms with nurses and doctors. Foreigners have to pay for medical treatment in hard currency, so don't forget insurance. Avoid tap water and uncooked and unpeeled food, and bring sun and mosquito protection and your personal medicine!

Photo and Film: Cuba is a photographer's dream, and Cubans are talented and open-minded "actors". Rule of thumb: estimate your need of films, then bring at least twice as much.

Travelling Individually: by renting cars and with our special DRIVE CUBA PROGRAM, small land hostages, sleeping in private homes (casas particulares) and eating in Government Restaurants or sort of private restaurants (paladares) this is no problem - you can move around freely and will always meet helpful Cubans. A very good road map and lots of tipps  you will get from us.


Sailing Aerea Cuba