Cynthia Aguilar Completes 103-Mile Paddleboard Journey from Cuba to Key West

Last year, she was undermined by stinging jellyfish and wicked ocean currents. This time around, it was all smooth paddling.

Cynthia Aguilar, a Miami Beach lifeguard featured in our November People issue, completed a 103-mile journey from near Cuba to Key West -- all on her paddleboard.

"I'm still a little sore," Aguilar said from Key West, where she is recuperating from the 29-hour 13-minute ordeal. "Touching land was the happiest moment I've had in a long time."

Aguilar is the first person to complete a solo, prone paddleboard journey across the Florida Straits. She began the trip at 7:32 a.m. on Wednesday and washed up in Key West just before 1 p.m. yesterday.

This time around, she avoided jellyfish stings by wearing specially made sleeves on her arms. A support crew, meanwhile, successfully guided her around the powerful ocean currents that ensnared her and foiled her first attempt last September.

"It went really well," Aguilar told Riptide. "It all came together. No animals this time, just beautiful sunset, beautiful sunrises, and all this beautiful blue water."

Aguilar didn't sleep during the epic voyage, but said she hardly noticed.

"I was just so focused on what I needed to do, which was cross that body of water."

Check out her website, Keep Paddlin, to see the route Aguilar took or to donate money to her non-profit. Proceeds from the trip will go to the Make A Wish Foundation.

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.