25 Mar 2012 - Checking back into Ft. Lauderdale

Sun 25 Mar 2012 20:07
We had heard differing reports about checking back into the USA after visiting Cuba.  The US authorities, supposedly, don’t even like foreign registered vessels entering the USA from Cuba, but with Michael’s hip, we had no choice.  We bypassed Miami (knowing it had a bad reputation for re-entering), so headed up to Las Olas Marina in Fort Lauderdale.  We got buzzed every now and then by US planes checking us out, but apparently they take photos and any identified US flagged boats, receive a fine! 
We had a fabulous sail up the Straits of Florida, with an added push of 2.5 knots by the Gulf Steam, but as night fell, we were wary that we were amongst the many Cruise Ships returning from cruises to Miami and Fort Lauderdale.   With our AIS display, we could monitor their course, but could see that the Carnival Glow would only pass a couple of hundred metres away from us, which was far too close in the pitch black!  Michael called them up on the VHF to request the ship’s intentions and the captain acknowledged and altered course.  A fast trip and we ended up completing the 245nm trip in 30 hours, that’s 195nm in 24 hours (our best day EVER!)
Before entering Fort Lauderdale, we contacted the US authorities to announce our return from Cuba and they just advised us to tie up in the the marina and check into Customs and Immigration the following day.  The only thing of note, was they asked us if we had purchased any Cuban cigars, to which our response was negative (they do not allow the importation of Cuban Cigars).
The following day, we caught a taxi to the Customs &Immigration dock, but not realising how busy a Monday would be, we had to hang around for a few hours, while all the cruise ship official’s checked in their crew and passengers.  We met a lovely lady who turned out to be a captain of a 70ft cruiser, but she was into all other things (see business cards)
Anyway our turn and we were interviewed by a nice Hispanic gentleman, who took down our details.  He discovered that our papers did not show that we had checked out of the USA, to which we responded  that we had done this on 26 Dec 11 and had specifically given all our exit documents to Customs in Key West, Florida.  After checking our Cuban marina documents, he was satisfied and stamped Nimue in for another year and we got the usual 6 months!
Back in Las Olas Marina, next to the Las Olas bridge