On Monday, May 6 a flotilla of power and sailboats cruised along Havana’s waterfront in a celebration of the city’s 500th anniversary. The Rally was organized by Florida Yacht Charters and included the crossing from Key West to Havana, something of a mildly eye opening adventure for the participants, many of whom had never crossed the Gulf Stream before. That rookie group included this humble reporter.
I was along for the ride as the token Canadian, but the balance of crews on board the 20 or so participating boats was from the USA. For those folks this was a welcome taste of forbidden fruit that required FYC to do a lot of paperwork, prepare the event to meet US government regulations and obtain individual visas.
The Cubans, including their port of entry team, were extremely welcoming for all of us. The border experience was thorough but friendly and Havana’s Marina Hemingway made an excellent base for the events. The harbourmaster’s team of hard working chicos got everyone safely moored along the marina’s piers in short order.
The waterfront parade was the featured highlight of the program, hosted by Commodore José Miguel Diaz Escrich of the Club Nautico Internacional Hemingway de Cuba, which boasts a legion of international members, many in this country.
In Havana the Americans, who are required by their country to engage in cultural people to people interchange as a condition of visiting Cuba, visited museums and dance companies, toured cathedrals and enjoyed some pretty fine dining. (For those of you who have experienced all-inclusive resorts, please don’t confuse that buffet ramble with the snazzy ‘paladares’ of Havana- they are genuinely fine places to dine in tropical style.)
The parade of boats traveled along Havana’s historic Malecon with colours rampant and horns aplenty. The historic Morro Castle that guards the entrance to the harbour is stunning landmark and the boats took ample opportunity to swan in front of it. The flags flew and the cameras whirred.
More to come including how to charter to Cuba in the October issue of Canadian Yachting.
John Morris is editor of Canadian Yachting OnBoard. You can subscribe at no charge at https://subscription.canadianyachting.ca/?page=newsletter