Clearing Customs in Cuba
The Harvey Gamage entered Marina Hemingway and tied up alongside a concrete dock painted bright blue. This was the customs and immigration building for the ship to enter Cuba.
Each student and crew member had their passports stamped as customs and immigration inspected the boat. Excited and friendly drug-sniffing dogs boarded the ship with their handlers. The dogs were reluctant to go up or down the steep companionway ladders of the Gamage and sometimes had to be lifted. After the dogs had their fun, I went below to the lazarette with an inspector. This is where we store lots of our maintenance supplies, tools and spare parts. I had the challenge of trying to explain the purpose of each little piece of equipment in Spanish, a feat that may have been difficult in English given the variety of purposeful supplies on board.
Health inspectors came aboard to check everyone’s temperature, and someone from the Department of Agriculture made sure that we had no rotting produce on board. After we all had finished the inspections, we were clear to proceed. Although this process might seem daunting, and certainly time consuming, all of the inspectors were welcoming and friendly. Above all, they were curious to explore the only wooden boat in Marina Hemingway, and perhaps the only Tall Ship in Cuba at the moment. We had officially cleared customs in Cuba!