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FYI: April 2004

FYI — April 2004
By Brad Dunn
   
 
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: Cuban Cruisin’, Things We Like, and more
• Part 2: A Word With... Buddy Purcell, and more

 Related Resources
• News/FYI Index

Cuban Cruisin’
If you wanted to cross the Florida Straits, would you choose a 1959 hardtop Buick with tailfins or a vintage 1951 Chevy pickup? Thanks to the courage and ingenuity of a group of Cubans, the choice is clear: Take the sedan.

In January the Coast Guard intercepted a floating Buick full of exiles about halfway between Cuba and Key West, Florida. Among the 11 people aboard were three Cubans who had tried the same stunt last July in a marinized Chevy (above), earning international recognition and the nickname “truckonauts.” In both cases, however, the Coast Guard arrested the passengers, sent them back to Cuba, and sunk the creative off-road cruisers in a hail of machine-gun fire—a standard precaution to prevent the “vessels” from becoming derelicts.

Though much has been made about the immigration issues behind these cases, few have stopped to admire the handiwork of these disgruntled Cubans.

First, a look at the Chevy: The would-be exiles crafted propellers and attached them to the drive shaft, which was still attached to the original 1951 engine. To keep the truck from sinking, they fastened sealed 55-gallon drums to both sides. The converted truck was reasonably seaworthy, save for the tires the Cubans had left attached: The group reportedly intended to convert the vehicle back to a truck upon reaching Florida and drive it to a relative’s house.

The Cubans improved their design the second time around. This time they actually welded a prow to a vintage Buick, then made the entire vehicle watertight and painted it sea-foam green. Though they used a makeshift propeller apparatus similar to that of the Chevy, the streamlined cruiser produced a 50-percent higher top speed. While the truck was able to make about 4 knots, the Buick cruised at up to 6.

The car-boat even captured the attention of Florida congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who wrote a letter to President George W. Bush describing the flood of requests she had received to salvage the vehicle. She stated many Floridians had even offered to buy the Buick “that was valiantly sailed...to illustrate the ingenuity of the Cuban people.”

65
Age of the world’s oldest fish in captivity, an Australian lungfish named Methuselah, which is kept at the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco, California.

Things We Like
You could call it creative salesmanship. During a recent bareboat charter in the Bahamas, PMY managing editor Eileen Mansfield wandered down a small road on Elbow Cay and found this double Adirondack chair (left) that offered a spectacular view of Hope Town Harbor. After taking a seat and enjoying the scene, she noticed this sign (below) hanging on a tree to her left.

Turns out the chairs were part of an interactive ad, a brilliant way to inspire passing boaters to consider renting a nearby waterfront home. Of course, if you like this view, you should not only rent the home, called Aeolian, you should also check out our upcoming issue of Voyaging, where you’ll find out more about PMY’s cruise through the Abacos Islands.

April Calendar
1-4. The Tacoma Dome Boat Show in Tacoma, Washington. (253) 756-2121. www.otsusa.com.
1-4. The 12th-Annual Orange County Boat Show in Anaheim, California. (714) 633-7581. www.scma.com.
14-18. The 31st-Annual Newport Boat Show in Newport Beach, California. (949) 757-5959. www.goboatingamerica.com.
16-18. The International Boat Show in Jacksonville, Florida. (904) 759-2758. www.jaxboatshow.com.

Next page > A Word With...Buddy Purcell > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the March 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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