The rules in question about traveling to Cuba that impact U.S. Crew and U.S. flagged vessels were discussed during a YachtInfo seminar.
“Cuba is full of contradictions. It’s a place in transition,” said Michael Moore, a Miami-based maritime attorney who spoke on a panel. While the trade embargo the U.S. has with Cuba is still in effect, rule changes last year enabled American citizens to visit the island nation without applying for a special license, provided they fall under one of 12 categories of travelers including educational and family.
For Americans leaving a U.S. port to visit Cuba, the U.S. Coast Guard requires a permit to proceed. A few hurdles are in the way for yachts attempting this move. First is that the USCG won’t consider the permit application until the departure is about two weeks away, Moore said.
Second, the permit gives the vessel 14 days to visit Cuba and return to the U.S., which raises several more issues for yachts. While the two-week window might work for charter yachts heading to Havana, it is impractical for private yachts that will want to venture far beyond. Also, private yachts will likely want to continue traveling and not return to the United States.
“It’s something we’re working on,” Moore said.