South Florida family rescued at sea, sailboat returns from Cuba

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – It was supposed to be a sailing race to Jamaica and back. Instead, deLisser’s family, friends, and team were stranded in Cuba for a week.

“I will never forget it,” said Arielle deLisser, of Pinecrest.

The trip with his father, Eamonn deLisser, and his friends Maricio Verdier, Blake Cabassa and Ed Cabassa began in Fort Lauderdale in early February. They did well in Jamaica. But things got tough on the way back.

“Coming back we lost our rudder,” said deLisser, 22.

They could not continue and decided to go to the nearest port to Cuba. Once anchored on Isla de Pinos, an island south of Cuba’s main island, they were greeted by Cuban immigration and customs officials.

“Fifteen people were all wearing surgical gloves (…) they saw their drug addicted dogs barking,” said Arielle deLisser.

But she was never afraid of the officers, most of whom she described as unarmed.

For five days, they waited on their boat named Senara until the US Interest Section took them out of Pinos Island by ferry. Once on the main island, they took a taxi to Havana and got to see a bit of the city.

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From the country, deLisser took this out: “Everything is run down, falling apart,” she said. “Everyone is a little afraid of the system and needs to make sure that it does exactly what is supposed to be done.”

Scrolling through images on his laptop, deLisser spoke about the beauty of the country.

“I think it’s cool that we got to travel to a bunch of places and see a lot of different things before all these people came in, if that’s what ends up happening,” she said. stated, referring to changes in US-Cuban politics.

The group returned to the United States but had to leave the sailboat behind. On Wednesday afternoon, after another trip, deLisser’s father and his crew finally returned the sailboat to Coral Reef Marina in Coconut Grove. As they entered the marina, family and friends cheered. A yacht honked.

It’s not just about the boat, but the people who have helped, Eamonn deLisser said even before stepping onto the dock.

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Finally, the Senara was at home.

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