New Cuba Charts Available in the U.S.

Quality charts of Cuba are being made available, as the possibility of American yachtsmen cruising Cuban waters looms.

NV Charts

With Congress again debating whether to end the U.S. ban on travel to Cuba, it might be worth noting that the chartmaker NV. Charts has begun distribution of the best paper charts of the island nation yet. So far, the German-Danish company has released two chart kits, which together cover the entire North Coast, about 700 nautical miles. NV. Charts plans to issue charts for the South Coast of Cuba later.

The North Coast of Cuba is diverse geographically and includes the capital of Havana as well as several smaller port cities, hundreds of cays and 19 pocket bays. There are two inshore passages, one behind islands, the other behind a fringing reef that provide protection from ocean swell.

Each chart kit comes with a CD containing the charts in electronic form and chart viewer software. These raster charts will work on PC navigation systems such as Rose Point, which when coupled with a USB GPS turns a laptop into chartplotter for Cuban waters. The charts contain cruising guide features with annotations for anchorages and labels for releavant features such as dinghy docks. The paper charts also contain sea-level sketches of coastal destinations in the manner of British Admiralty charts.

PC navigation companies Nobeltec and MaxSea also sell Cuba charts to be used with their navigation software. They and NV. Charts use data provided by GEOCUBA, the Cuban's competent hydrographic and geodesic service, whose officers were first trained in Russia during Cuba's Cold War partnership with the Soviet Union. Cuba charts are more accurate and up-to-date than much of the U.S. government cartography of our own waters, some of which have not been surveyed since the 1950s. Cuba distributes its own paper charts, but they have been difficult to find in the U.S. in recent years, and the quality of the paper and presentation is not nearly as high as that of NV. Charts.