My Cuban Adventure

A lesson in hardcore off the coast of Havana.

March 4, 2013


courtesy Donzi Marine

One of the more memorable boating adventures I’ve ever had came in 2000 when we decided to take a boat to Cuba. The premise of the trip, which we were legally allowed to take as journalists, was that we were going to fish in the 50th anniversary of the Hemingway International Billfish Tournament. You can read the full text from that adventure here:


The thrill involved making the run from Key West to Havana over the straights of Florida, exploring the back country, finding Hemingway’s boat The Pilar, and fishing for billfish every day in the waters he made famous. One story I didn’t share in print but that I’ll never forget involved a rough weather day in the middle of the tournament. The forecast called for tight six-footers outside the inlet and most of the boats in the tournament–including 50-foot battlwagons–made the call to stay inside the marina. But we decided, what the hell, we’re going to go out there and gut it out in our 35-foot Donzi.



We started taking a beating from the moment we left the breakwater at the Marina Hemingway and endured the pounding for a full eight hours as we trolled for marlin. We struck out on the pelagics but bagged a big bull dolphin that lit up the reel and our moods. Returning back to the marina, we felt pretty hardcore, thinking we showed all those captains who decided to remain in port how it’s done. We would light up cigars and bask in the glow of our fortitude.



Then, as we approached the breakwater, we all saw something that changed our tune. There, bobbing up and down in the solid-six footers, floated a local fisherman. We slowed down to get a better look and he smiled and nonchalantly waved at us, as if it were no big deal to be hand-lining offshore–while floating in the middle of an inner tube.

Suddenly, we didn’t feel so rugged anymore.


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