places to hide when the weather kicks up, and highlights for
many of the recommended ports and anchorages.
Barr’s charts show approaches and entry very clearly, but
it’s her lucid descriptions that will make following the charts
so much easier. Her description for entering Ensenada de
Juan Lopez is a perfect example:
“The approach and entry into Ensenada de Juan Lopez
is straightforward. From the fairway buoy (L Fl. l0s) located
at approximately 22o1.2’N, 84 o19.9’W, steer a course that is
equidistant between the headlands. The depth in this chan-
nel is not less than 10 m ( 33 ft). After clearing the headlands,
make for the wharf at La Fé, roughly 1. 5 nm ahead on a
northeasterly course. To pinpoint the location, look for the
conspicuous radio tower. En route give Punta Algodonal Vie-
jo a wide berth as a shoal extends 0.5 nm east of the point and
has a covering depth of 1. 7 m ( 5. 5 ft).”
When the day comes that I can return to Cuba in my
boat, and I hope that’s soon, Barr’s Cuba cruising guides will
be the first ones I turn to.
Cruising Guide to Cuba, Vol. 1, Varadero to Trinidad, by Capt.
Cheryl Barr, list price $59.95, www.cruisingcuba.com
A Cruising guide
by Amaia Agirre and
H H H H
If you’re inclined to dismiss
free online cruising guides
because you believe they’re
worth exactly what you pay
for them, here’s a good reason to change your thinking.
This e-book offers a huge
amount of useful information on cruising Cuba, and it’s much
too valuable a resource to ignore. Frank Virgintino has written
nine Caribbean cruising guides, and they’re all available for free
downloading at: www.freecruisingguides.com.
This new guide, co-authored by Amaia Agirre and Frank
Virgintino, starts at the beginning: a wide-angle look at how
best to approach cruising in Cuba. If you’re considering a
cruise to Cuba, make it a point to read at least the first quarter
of their book because you’ll come away with a very good idea
what to expect. If you’ve never cruised in Latin American
countries you’re in for some surprises, and it’s not all roses.
Agirre and Virgintino make it clear that cruising in Cuba
is governed by a very tight security system: few ports of entry,
onerous check-in procedures involving multiple government
officials and sometimes dogs, the need to check in with offi-
cials immediamente upon arrival at every port, the requirement
to obtain a despatcho before you depart any port, then check
in again and present your papers to officials on arrival at every
new port. “Cruisers often ask if they can dispense with all of
this paperwork …” they write. “The answer is NO. The Cuban
Coast Guard guards the coast of Cuba, and they are interested
in knowing where you are at all times.” For the most part cruisers
are permitted to go ashore only in ports where there’s a marina.
Then there are the cays, they point out, a different matter
altogether. Cruising boats are free to cruise through the small
islands and cays where there are no marinas and to anchor at
will. However, cruising yachts may be approached at any time
by the Cuban Coast Guard—and paperwork must be in order
and ready for presentation. Going ashore? In the cays, they
say, “you can pretty much wander around as you please, but if
you approach a settlement you will come under close scrutiny.”
The big-picture information in this guide is terrific, but
there’s also one serious failing: almost a complete absence
of detailed close-in navigation charts. While Barr’s guide has
dozens of these and goes to great lengths to walk the captain
though approaches and harbor entries, most of the charts in
the Agirre/Virgintino guide appear to be wide-view scans from
official Cuban hydrographic charts, mainly overviews of routes
with no usable detail for harbor approaches and entries. For
those, the guide uses the authors’ many GPS waypoints. May-
be that approach works for some skippers, but as an old-school
captain I’m wedded to my charts and it definitely doesn’t work
for me. I don’t want to have to use someone else’s GPS way-
points—no matter how good they might be.
Nonetheless, I find this new guide a very useful one—it’s
big, colorful, comprehensive and authoritative, and the hun-
dreds of lush color pictures will beckon to you to come cruise
in Cuba. And the price is right. Besides, I love having two
guides with differing viewpoints, no matter where I cruise.
A Cruising Guide to Cuba (Ed. 1) by Amaia Agirre and
Frank Virgintino, free download, www.freecruisingguides.com.
Books recently received
These may be reviewed in a later issue of PassageMaker:
As Long as It’s Fun, the Epic Voyages and Extraordinary Times of
Lin and Larry Pardey by Herb McCormick. An up-close and
inside view of the iconic cruising couple who have sailed over
200,000 miles and whose mantra has always been: “Go small,
go simple, go now.” Paradise Cay Publications. www.paracay.
com, $18.95 list.
Reflection on America’s Great Loop by George and Patricia Hospodar. Cruising narrative about a one-year “journey
of a lifetime” doing America’s Great Loop with information
on routes, navigation, locking and more. Atlantic Publishing
Group. www.Atlantic-pub.com, $21.95 list.
The Other Side of the Ice, One Family’s Treacherous Journey Negotiating the Northwest Passage by Sprague Theobald
with Allan Kreda. Cruising narrative of one family’s 8,500-
mile journey through the icebound Northwest Passage from
Rhode Island to Seattle aboard a Nordhavn 57. Skyhorse Publishing. www.skyhorsepublishing.com, $24.95 list.
The Complete Book of Saltwater Fishing (revised and updated edition) by Milt Rosko. “Here in a single volume is everything the saltwater angler needs to know from a longtime
saltwater authority,” says the publisher. Burford Books. www.
burfordbooks.com, $19.95 list.