Water Purification Systems for Cuba
NH Shield

the need technologies what we did packing tips useful links contact us

Packing Tips

Shipping Cases in Cardenas

The biggest logistical challenge with installing water purification systems in Cuba today (March, 2015) is the need to bring absolutely everything with us - even the tools. We chose to pack the water systems and tools in storage bins (shown above at the church in Cardenas), with some overflow items in a large suitcase.

Two different types of bins were used:

Broken Top

Both sizes of bins were purchased from The Home Depot. The smaller bins, which were available in our local Home Depot, were the Husky 20-gallon Storage Tote, SKU # 1000031143. While these appeared quite sturdy, one of the covers (pictured at right) cracked during the flight from Boston to Miami, probably due to the cold in the cargo area with stuff piled on top of it. Therefore, we would not recommend this container.

The larger shipping container was the Sterilite Footlocker Storage Bin, SKU # 204303284 (available from Home Depot on-line only), which held up much better, and had wheels on one end. One complete UV system could be placed in one, although the weight was slightly more than 50 pounds, so some of the components were distributed to avoid excess weight charges on the flight from Boston to Miami. However, these cases would not hold an entire filtration system, and two of the filter housings from each system were placed in the large suitcase pictured at the top of this page.

Luggage straps were used as a precaution, and these were taped with Gorilla Tape on the bottom and sides to avoid being snagged on a conveyor belt. Also, the handles on the front of the Sterilite cases were covered with tape to discourage their use: The contents were packed with heavy items on the bottom, and we wanted the cases to remain upright.

In addition to the containers and suit case, a 100 foot roll of 3/4 inch PEX tubing (behind the suit case in the photo at the top of this page) was checked as a separate piece of luggage, and the 250 foot roll of 12/2 Romex wire (shown on the far right, above) was packed with other items in another suit case.

While we used bubble wrap on some of the more fragile items, much of the padding consisted of towels and used clothing that we brought as donations.

Broken Top

The outside of each case was clearly labeled with the name of the group, the cell number of our group leader, the name of the person the case was assigned to, an overview of what was in it, and a notice that a complete inventory of the case's contents was enclosed. Havana Airport

Each case was sealed with a light-weight cable tie (the type used with electrical wiring) that could be easily broken by TSA or Cuban customs. Miraculously, none of the cases were opened prior to either flight, or by customs in Cuba.

As noted elsewhere on this web site, our charter flight from Miami to Cuba charged $2 per pound over the 44 pounds allowed per person. That was for "luggage." "Freight" was $3 per pound, and it took some negotiations by our group leader to get the lower price because we were doing charitable work.

Concerning Cuban customs, we were advised NOT to say we were carrying "donations" for the Cuban people because there was some concern that customs would say "thank you very much" and take them. If asked, we were advised to say the items belonged to us. Fortunately, this was not an issue for us. We had sent a Spanish-language translation of the complete inventory to our in-country host (in our case, the Episcopal bishop of Cuba), and our group leader also carried the complete inventory, in Spanish. Consequently, we walked through Cuban customs as a group with no discussion at all.

Havana Airport There was considerable concern about packing the quartz sleeves and UV lamps for the UVMAX systems, because one of the sleeves had broken in the manufacturer's packing prior to our receiving it.

Havana Airport Therefore, the lamps and sleeves (as well as a spare lamp and sleeve for each system) were removed from the Sleeve Bolts, were individually wrapped in layers of bubble wrap, and were placed inside of a 4-inch diameter piece of PVC pipe, with end caps.

Havana Airport Each case carrying a UV system had one of these 4-inch PVC pipes with two lamps and two sleeves, along with O-rings, instructions, and cotton gloves. The sleeves and lamps arrived in good shape.

Sleeve Bolt However, God has a way of teaching us humility at the worst possible times, because at the very end of the UV system installation in Cardenas I discovered I had left the Sleeve Bolts at home in New Hampshire. Fortunately, Michael Pollack from Christ Church Bronxville was returning to Cuba the following month with a church group from Wyoming, and he was able to bring the parts and complete the installation.