Day 78: Mission: Cuba

19.03.09:

So much has been happening so fast it makes my head spin just thinking about it. Midge gave me a lift into Key West and Captain Johnny was waiting for me outside Harpoon Harry’s. I said my goodbyes to Midge (hooray for Midge!) and threw my kit on board Captain Johnny’s boat, a 41 foot Morgan OutIsland Sloop called (somewhat appropriately)…, oh hang on – I can’t tell you, can I? Damn.

We is fugitives now. Pirates! Bootleggers! Jolly Swagmen! We’re going to the FORBIDDEN ISLAND and there’s not a damn thing the US Treasury can do about it. Stick THAT in your pipe, US Treasury Department.

Anyway, we had a lot of work to do. Boat parts, supplies, crew lists and check out. It was a bit of a nightmare getting it all sorted so quickly, but by 2pm we were pulling out of Key West and into the blue.

We can’t go straight to Cuba, it would be too obvious to the US Coastguard (they’d stop us, impound the boat and fine Captain Johnny so much money it would make your head spin) , so we are heading over to a small anchorage on the west end of Cuba called Maria La Gorda (yup, that’s ‘Maria The Fat’ to you Anglophones). It’s going to take us a few days to get there in a yacht, but I really don’t have a choice in the matter and at this stage I’m grateful for anything I can get. Very soon I’ll be running a massive SIX WEEKS behind schedule.

I was sorry to see Key West go, it is honestly the best place I’ve visited so far – gorgeous old buildings, art gallery shops you can browse for free, great bars and clubs, relaxed atmosphere, friendly people, no big chains in the city centre (yes – not even a Starbucks – or at least I didn’t find it!) and a wonderfully crazy/bohemian air to the place. It’s like Glastonbury has relocated to a permanent settlement on the Southern tip of the USA. Great stuff.

Captain Johnny’s boat ain’t got an autopilot, so we took turns skippering while the other got some much needed shut-eye. I stood out on deck piloting the yacht under the twinkling starlights and I put it to Planet Earth: The Odyssey may well be stopped by war, illness or accident, but The Odyssey will not be stopped by bureaucrats, dagnamit!!

WOO YEAH!

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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