By Dorie Cox
Private yacht guests in Cuba were picked up by a seaplane in what Cuban officials call the first seaplane landing in more than 60 years.
Pacific Bound Yachts coordinated the event and president and COO Lisa Greenberg said the project involved months of communication with both U.S. and Cuban government officials for permits and approvals.
The plane flew from Fort Lauderdale, refueled in Key West and, once in Cuba, made several low passes to confirm a safe landing, according to Scott Young, director of sales with Tropic Ocean Airways.
A Tropic Ocean Airways plane landed near the yacht in the waters off the southern coast of Cuba on March 5, and passengers boarded from a tender to be transported to Miami International Airport for a connecting flight.
“On the ground, we had a contact on marine radio channel 16 and we verified we were all good for a landing,” Young said. “It was a safe landing and we tied to a mooring. Cuban customs came out on a boat. It did not take long to clear customs.”
“This gives the opportunity for more dynamic itineraries,” Greenberg said by phone after the landing. “Clients are not limited by airport or port of entry. In this case, the guests saved six hours by land or 18 hours by sea to the next airport. For yachts, that is the draw.”
A press release from both companies expounded on the historic event.
“Seaplanes are part of the storied history of Florida’s connection to Cuba, dating back to days of the Clippers operating the air bridge between Miami and Havana,” according to Rob Ceravolo, founder and CEO of Tropic Ocean Airways. “I’ve heard for almost a decade that reintroducing seaplane flights connecting the two nations will never happen. Our company is built on removing the limits on what is possible – this historic water landing is a testament to that. We feel fortunate to share this historic moment with Pacific Bound Yachts; we appreciate their support and partnership.”
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.