I adjust the focus on the binoculars, less than a mile away a small Royal Bahamas Defence Force Patrol Boat that has been shadowing us for the last hour comes into view.
On the other side of the boat is the coast of Cuba. I’ve watched the long yellow image that marks the shore line on the color radar since about 3 AM, with a mental note to stay on course or go to jail and risk having the boat claimed by Fidel himself.
Should you think I’m kidding, there is the tale of the Cymar a 40 foot sailboat owned by a UK citizen, that ran aground on the Cuban coast and sustained only minor damage only to be plundered by the Cuba Coast Guard, to let you know otherwise.
In the predawn hours Cuba looks anything but hostile. In full daylight the island nation looks empty, deserted, completely inviting. Lush green forests and stark white beaches, a back ground of cobalt blue skies and gin clear water contrast drastically with the imagines of Fidel’s Cuba broadcast over the years by the US media. Over the next six hours I watch as pristine beaches and the untouched Caribbean forest pass by.
Miami bound traffic heading the opposite direction is the normal eclectic collection of cruise ships, fishing boats and small Caribbean freighters.
If there are large groups of pro-Castro supporters holding an anti-US rally I don’t see them. Yet, the image we have of Cuba is that of 1950’s era autos, crowded streets, decrepit hospitals, wide spread poverty and of course GITMO.
It’s sad that the only US Government backed effort in Cuba is a military prison. I can’t help but wonder what has been lost because of our half century long “cold war” with the Castro regime.
And so the days of Papa Hemingway holding court poolside in Havana are long gone. Fidel himself is fading into the past much like the sun drenched shoreline that is left behind in the wake of an 80 foot motor yacht heading east.
Still the island echoes the past and the memories and images that the mention of Havana brings to mind. Hemingway enjoyed these waters without the same concern I have on this early dawn. But soon after the photo below was taken, relations with Cuba would change.
Yet, I doubt anyone expected that change or Castro would be so permanent.