Mark Erdos



Be sure to check for visa requirements based on the passport you plan to use.


When arriving in the USA as a private foreign flagged vessel, you will need to call the Customs Border Protection 800 number. You must have a working phone when you arrive in order to be able to do this. The 800 number will take all of your information and then send you to a CBP office to formally check in. They will need to issue a cruising permit (license) good for one year for the vessel.  You are required to call the moment you reach a dock. All crew are required to go for the check in.


This is probably not legal but, once we landed in Key West and needed to get a SIM card in order to call the CBP number. We walked to the local CVS (pharmacy) and purchased a SIM card for our phone. We returned to the boat and placed the call.


From Jamaica, sail the windward passage (between Haiti and Cuba) and then follow the coast of Cuba to Florida.  This passage is patrolled by the Cubans, Bahamians and USGC. It is an easy sail due to being leeward of the Bahama Islands.


I would recommend landing in Key West, FL. I say this because you can easily walk to the CBP office. There are two CBP officers there, one in the court house and one at the airport. They will require the vessel to be at a dock. Docks there are expensive but you can leave after checking in and anchor in the bay. Ft. Lauderdale is another painless entry point. Pier 66 Marina is just inside on the ICW (one drawbridge – opens on the ½ hour and hour on demand) and you can taxi to the CBP office (usually they send you to the cruise port just over the bridge). There is very limited anchoring in Ft. Lauderdale.


If you opt to check in at Key West, consider going to Dry Tortugas National Park. A day sail westward from Key West. It is a really cool place to hang for a couple of days.


We have always found the CBP to be helpful, professional and friendly (with one exception in St. Augustine FL). The same is true for the USCG. We have been boarded three times and each was a pleasant experience.


The cruising permit allows the vessel to cruise in the USA for one year. You must notify CBP as you sail and change CBP regions. This is not clearly defined so, it is just best to call them each time you move the boat more than a few miles or change states.


The limits of the ICW fixed bridges is 65’ This is not Amel friendly. Just know that when you see a fixed bridge on a chart, you will not fit under it. Draw bridges are not a problem and many open only on scheduled times. The depth of the ICW in many cases is also problematic for Amels, more so in the remote areas.


I do not know about holding tank regulations for foreign vessels. The USGC requires holding tanks on vessels subject to USA regulations. You will need do some homework on this and be absolutely certain of the findings. A fine for a violation would be very expensive. Discharge of sewage from all vessels is prohibited.


Consider the Bahamas as a stop either before or after the USA.


Hope this helps.



With best regards,





Sailing Vessel - Cream Puff - SM2K - #275

Currently cruising - Vista Mar, Panama


From: [] On Behalf Of Alejandro Paquin
Sent: Tuesday, July 2, 2019 10:12 AM


I am considering sailing up to Florida early December, starting from my home port of La Guaira, Venezuela. I don´t think I would stop in Cuba in principle, but maybe Jamaica. Can anyone provide some tips and advice on a proposed route? Best place for US Port of entry and formalities with a foreign flag vessel and crew. What to expect with US Customs. Also any tips on sailing into the ICW in the Miami- Aventura area? Draft and bridges for example. Also, I don not have any holding tanks onbard, is this an issue to consider?
I´m thinking of heading south again in March or April 2020
Alex Paquin
Amel Maramu
Hull #94, 1981

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