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Americans Doing the 'Cuban Slide'

January 14, 2011 – Cuba

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Nature has blessed Cuba with some of the most beautiful ocean waters of the world. Photo Courtesy TerraNova
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"We cruised the Caribbean last winter, during which time we spent two months in Cuba," write an American cruising couple, the male of which started cruising from Northern California. "We entered at Santiago de Cuba, sailed west along the south coast, and around Cabo San Antonio on the west end, and on up to Marina Hemingway near Havana. We didn't get any permission, so we did the whole thing illegally. We prefer to keep a low profile, so we're hesitant to write about it in Latitude. Anyway, it was a fun and interesting time — but we don't intend to move there anytime soon."

And in El Nicho Falls in the Sierra de Trinidad, Nature has blessed Cuba with some beautiful river waters. Photo Courtesy TerraNova
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Although the concept is as un-American as can be, it's illegal for most Americans to cruise their boats to and around Cuba. That's because the U.S. Treasury Department says it would necessarily involve "trading with the enemy." But as we all know, all levels of U.S. government pick and chose which laws they wish to enforce, and who they want to enforce them against. In the case of taking one's boat to Cuba, then-President Clinton didn't care, so countless Americans cruised there. Bush, on the other hand, make it very clear he wasn't going to put up with it, so such visits stopped almost entirely. Under Obama's reign, we're back to non-prosecution. We know of a number of cruisers who visited Cuba last winter — including a Northern California couple who wrote a two-part story for Latitude on it — with no repercussions from the U.S. government. So, if you've always dreamed of doing the Cuban Slide, now is as good a time as any.

Alas, the government and workers of Cuba have cursed many residents and visitors with running water that looks like, well, urine. The natural is the best part of Cuba. Photo Courtesy TerraNova
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

- latitude / rs

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Latitude 38 Crew List

Classy Deadline the 15th

See the current magazine here

See the current magazine here.

Avoiding Tahiti's Dreaded Bond

January 14, 2011 – Latitude 38 World Headquarters

As many world cruisers will confirm, French Polynesia is one of the friendliest regions on the planet. So it has always seemed ironic that the immigration department there is the only one we know of that requires every visiting (non-EU) cruiser to post a cash bond equal to the price of a plane ticket home to their own country — roughly $1,500 to the U.S.

Cruisers always get a warm welcome in Tahiti, but the bond issue is often a buzzkill. We're working to ease the pain. Photo Latitude / Andy
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The policy is intended to be sort of an insurance policy, of course, so that if you get in trouble or become seriously ill, they won't be stuck with you. But for budget-minded cruisers it can be a real headache — if not a deal-breaker. A family of four, for example, would have to tie up $6,000 or more in a Polynesian bank, and wouldn't get it back until the day they left. And then it would be in French Polynesian currency, which can't be spent anywhere else. In most cases, they would loose money on the exchange as well.

So you can understand why westbound cruisers have been ecstatic for the past two years when we were able to get bond exemptions for all boats that officially registered with the Pacific Puddle Jump Rally on our website.

Unfortunately, the package deal offered last year through a Tahitian yacht agency proved to be more trouble that it was worth to them. For $110 USD boats got bond exemptions, clearance in and out, and duty-free fuel. This year's deal will be a bit more expensive, but still a good bargain — and, with any luck, will include duty-free fuel in the Marquesas as well as Tahiti.

Full details should be available on the website by February 1. But we wanted to get the word out today that a deal will, in fact, be offered, because dozens of would-be Jumpers have been chomping at the bit to know.

Registered Puddle Jumpers are under no obligation to participate in this program. We are arranging it only as a convenience to them, and Latitude 38 Magazine is in no way involved in the financial transactions.

So if you're heading west this season, check the website for updates soon. There is no charge to register for the Rally.

- latitude / at

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Ad: Twice the Feel on the Wheel

January 14, 2011 – Your Boat

© 2018 Octopus Marine /

Sailors rely on the feel from the wheel to fine tune the balance of the yacht. No longer! The unique configuration of the LAU drives means 50% less drag than other drives giving the benefit of more feel on the steering wheel.

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Race Notes

January 14, 2011 – The Bay and Beyond

American Brad Van Liew (yellow) is 180 miles from the Wellington finish, but still must negotiate the Cook Strait, while second-place Gutek Gutkowski (blue) has a 200-mile deficit to make up in the next day. Photo Courtesy Velux 5 Oceans
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

American Brad Van Liew is poised to make it two-for-two in the Velux 5 Oceans. Although he still has to negotiate the tricky Cook Strait between New Zealand's North and South Islands, Van Liew and his Eco 60 Le Pinguoin are only 180 miles from the Wellington finish. Second place Zbigniew "Gutek" Gutkowski is 200 miles behind Van Liew, but the Polish skipper's Operon Racing is taking the long way around — up the eastern coast of New Zealand — which means things could get closer at the finish if Van Liew finds unfavorable conditions in the Cook Strait.

Pier Map Revised
One eagle-eyed reader noted that the map of the piers on our America's Cup FAQs page showed Pier 19 west of Pier 23! This is the corrected version of the map. Photo Courtesy America's Cup 34
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The response to our America's Cup 34 FAQs has been awesome. We've recieved quite a few more great questions, some of which we'll be updating later today, by about 2 p.m. We also had some eagle-eyed readers point out some things that needed correction and/or clarification! The first was reader Larry Telford, who pointed out that, "showing Pier 19 as being west of Pier 23 on your diagram is confusing, in addition to being outright wrong." This editor stupidly didn't catch that one before posting the map, but has since replaced it with a corrected version. Another correction came from Swiss reader Bernie Stegmeier who wrote to ask if Team New Zealand had really entered. Doh! Team New Zealand, while expressing interest, has not, as of yet, entered the 34th America's Cup. Call it wishful thinking on our part, but we got ahead of ourselves on that one, because the rumor mill has TNZ as an officially entered but publicly undeclared entry.

Speaking of the rumor mill. There is a pretty credible rumor floating around out there that USA will be shipping out from Valencia at the end of this month, bound for the Bay and a place in the sun on the San Francisco waterfront. The since-adopted Northern Waterfront Option had Pier 80 set aside as a new home for the winner of America's Cup 33. But rest assured we'll keep an eye out for that!

Many of you were curious as to what the provision for spectator and photoboat traffic will be, as well as how the event could affect corinthian racing on the Bay. Those are great questions, and the first one should be relatively easy to answer down the road a bit. The other will probably not be answerable in an FAQ-type response, but rest assured that it's one we feel is essential to answer as everything develops.

Speaking of "corinthian racing" this weekend marks the first installment of the ever-popular, 60-year-old Corinthian Midwinters. The forecast is looking phan-phreakin'-nomenal after a few weeks of bitter cold, frost-on-the-docks weather. Latitude 38 is one of the keg sponsors, so save some for us after the racing! This editor will be out sailing, and may not be able to shoot as many photos as we need, so if you get any good ones, send them here!

- latitude / rg

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Weekend Sailing Weather

January 14, 2011 – San Francisco Bay

The weather for the past month or so has been decidedly less-than-conducive to sailing, so Bay Area sailors should celebrate this weekend's weather forecast: 65 and sunny. A ridge of high pressure off the beach should keep the mild weather around for at least the next 10 days or so, giving everyone ample opportunity to shake the mildew out of their sails. The forecasted light winds won't give you much speed, but after the month we've had, who cares?

The last promising sailing weekend we remember was in mid-December. Unfortunately, an odd heavy fog dampened the fun for some sailors -- but not for the crew of Ay Caliente!. Why not call up a dozen of your best friends and go out for a fog-free daysail while you have the chance? Photo Latitude / LaDonna
© 2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If you do get your boat out of the slip this weekend, we'd love to see a few of your best photos. Send them to LaDonna and you might see them in Monday's 'Lectronic Latitude or even the February issue of Latitude 38.

- latitude / ld

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