Cuba Bound

Key West to Havana is a grand tradition, a boater's delight, and a lively tourist adventure. Bon voyage!

"Everybody down!" Shaw bellows, though no one is standing up. "I can't see with everybody's goddamn head in the way." He continues to grouse. "Can we get everyone to stand up at the same goddamn time?"

It is 7:00 a.m. by the time the Irate Parrot finally pulls into the marina, and the sun has just risen. Bleary-eyed and irritable, Shaw chooses not to alert Customs, Immigration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that he has just returned from a foreign port, as required by federal law. He pulls the boat up to the fueling dock and unloads Jeffrey's scooter. Low on beer, he asks his passengers for a twenty-dollar tip before dropping them off and heading out for the anchorage.

Earlier in the trip, before the Budweisers had gotten the better of him, Shaw had spoken about his dreams of running a charter from a Cuban marina. "Cuba is wonderful, man," he rhapsodized. "But I keep wondering what will happen when it quote-unquote opens up. I think the Americans will ruin it like we do everything else. So we need to go there now, before we screw it up. Everybody -- all those guys that own boats in Key West -- everyone is poised on the starting block. They're coming, and they're coming hard. They're going to be doing commercial traffic. They're going to destroy the place."

As for Shaw, he figures by February he'll have it worked out so that he can run trips out of Varadero, the famed tourist resort about two hours east of Havana.

No worries. No hassle. He and Peggy will do some fishing and live off lobster, shrimp, and avocados as big as coconuts. There'll be booze in the blender, and plenty of rum. He'll play his guitar and eat papaya. Hell, he might even learn Spanish.

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