Thanks to Wally Moran for this guest blog on Cuba. Wally is the author of the new Cuba cruising guide Cuba Bound: The North Coast which was released just a few weeks ago. He was also one of the authors at our booth during the Toronto Boat Show this month.
Cuba – it’s a fascinating place to sail. Sure, you can go there as a tourist, stay at a resort and have a good time in the sun, but you truly miss the essence of what Cuba actually is – because you aren’t meeting the people.
Picture sitting on a fisherman’s 18 foot wooden boat, eating fish he’s caught while you try to understand one another. Or watching a group of fisherman bring in an eight foot hammerhead shark caught in their nets – just 100 yards from where you are anchored. That’s not resort tourism.
Ashore, you find yourself invited to join a group of Cubans and Russian tourists singing and enjoying themselves at a local pub as you walk by – at 1 am on your way home. Even though you don’t speak Spanish and can’t understand but one of them who speaks English, you finally get home as the sun rises over your vessel after an evening of singing, dancing and drinking rum.
This is the essence of cruising – discovering the culture of the places you visit, not just looking at them from the windows of a tour bus.
As a place to sail, Cuba ranks one of the best. Hundreds of great anchorages, clean and uncrowded since there are so few other cruisers. The coast is well charted, making for an easy downwind run almost any time of the year. The views are stellar, natural beauty to be found everywhere.
Sure, outside of the new Gaviota marina in Varadero, the marinas are not up to North American standards – but they’re certainly more than adequate. Besides, why do we cruise, if not to see and experience new things and enjoy different cultures and values?
And yes, Cuba can be very challenging, in many many ways, but that challenge is more than rewarded by the experiences you’ll have, and the people you’ll meet.