Here are our most important tips, hints, recommendations for the Cuba yacht charter newcomers.
For journeys in the direction of Cayo Blanco de Casilda, Trinidad, Cayo Majo afuera we recommend a charter period of at least 3 to 4 days. To visit Cayo Largo (80 nm), Cayo Rosario and the surrounding area, we recommend a charter period of at least 8 to 10 days. The distances should not be underestimated and it is vacation. Especially if you would like to sail longer distances you need the appropriate time.
Marina Marlin's skippers and chefs are all professionals. They are very familiar with the area and know where to find fish and lobsters. They know anchorages, beaches, snorkeling reefs, and almost every iguana on Iguana Island by their first names. They are very familiar with the technology on board. They always ensure a relaxed sailing trip. Our skippers are greeted with a handshake by the small reef sharks that can be observed while snorkeling.
Weather, distances between the islands, beautiful bays but hardly any marinas, that is the specialty of this area. This is wonderful, but also new for many. A trip planning must take the weather into account in particular. When there is a headwind, travel times quickly double. Safe anchorages are important for a relaxed night.
We recommend self-drivers to bring their own tablet (software Navionics or NV Chart). All our ships have chart plotters and good paper charts, but our own, on which the routes have already been planned, can be used anywhere on board. You can then save the tips from our base manager directly in digital form.
Our employees are available to the crews at all times. The most necessary spare parts are on board all ships. If required, these can be installed by fitters on site in Cayo Largo or Trinidad. So there isn't a marina on every island that you can go to quickly when the "tap is dripping". It makes a lot of sense if one of the crew members has ever had a wrench in their hands. If the commitment of our employees is essential, we will come by with one of our catamarans and help further. The intervention times are up to 36 hours. Our ships are all equipped with an AIS transmitter, which the Coast Guard always keeps an eye on. That way no one gets lost.
The restricted area around the Bay of Pigs still exists. In parts, however, only on the map. Furthermore, 7 nm around Cayo Piedras and the entrance to the Bay of Pigs are prohibited. The rest of this restricted area has been successfully ignored for several years. When there is a strong north-easterly wind, on the way back from Cayo Largo you can just pass Cayo Piedras in the sheltered coastal area and then drive quietly to Cienfuegos.
On long journeys it is important to always have a "second" woman/man behind the wheel. Navigation times of up to 8 hours or more are required for long distances. Bad weather is not included. Therefore again: "Take your time and prefer to charter 2 days longer". We don't write that because we want to "sell" 2 days longer. We love guests who bring back the rented catamaran satisfied and relaxed. Sailing without a second person on board is forbidden by the Cuban authorities.
The sea charts (Navionics and NV Chart) are very good. Almost the entire sailing area is easily passable. Nevertheless, reefs and isolated shoals offer dangers. Our insurance and we do not want you to expose yourself to unnecessary danger.
If a night trip is necessary because of a transfer or the distances between the islands, this must be planned in such a way that a landing only takes place during the day. In the event of disregard and damage occurring, the skipper is liable to recourse to the insurance company. See also our terms and conditions.
For example, if you want to go to Cayo Largo in one go, you have to leave Cienfuegos at 6:00 a.m., if you want to go to Guana del Este, the lighthouse island, or to Trinidad, you have to leave by 12:00 p.m. at the latest.
Euros in cash and lots of "small" bills are the best for the trip. Large amounts can usually be paid by credit card. We recommend two credit cards (one as a backup).
Cards from American banks as well as any AMEX or Dinersclub do not work in Cuba. Greetings from the embargo. A current list of what is to be paid in which currency can be found in the download area.
Everything you need to eat is available in Cuba. What is unusual is that there is no selection of products. So there is often only one type of yoghurt in the refrigerated section. On the shelf next to it pickles, sugar and toilet paper. Or there is no olive oil right now. But there is tuna in olive oil and Chilean red wine called TRIO (very tasty).
Our provisions list reflects what is almost always available in the Marina Shop. Vegetables and fruits are available in the "Fruits and Vegetables" in the marina or are organized by our base manager. The staff always tries to get everything you want.
Please report your provisions list to us in good time. Please order fruit and vegetables separately. It sounds bad but it isn't. So far we have been able to equip all crews in such a way that everyone was full and satisfied.
What Cuban cooks "conjure up" from the few additional data is a sensation for many Europeans.
Who needs a lot of bread, bread mixes. These, like chocolate, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and reading material, are hard to come by in Cuba.
There is only a bakery on Cayo Largo (pre-order possible the evening before at the Marina Shop Cayo Largo). Everything "meaty" that is packed in cans can also be imported without any problems. One or the other salami sometimes stays at customs.
Vegetables and fish are plentiful on and off the island. You can find a suggested list of "must bring with you" with a click in our description of the purchases.
All our boats have an official fishing permit. Fishing is strictly prohibited within the radius (approx. 5 nm) of Cayo Largo and in separately named nature reserves. Information on this under "Shopping" or in our popular "Cuba Course".
If you are not the great master of fishing, you should always have a few small packets of coffee, a few bottles of rum, promotional T-shirts or something similar with you. The few fishermen you meet are willing to barter.
Good if you speak something. Only a few of our skippers speak perfect English. But it is sufficient for the most necessary communication. Otherwise, the youth of the country speak English quite well.
Our base manager speaks Spanish, Italian, French, German and English very well. In addition, there is the Russian from school, as with many Cubans.