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NEWS FROM AROUND THE SOUTH & THE WORLD OF SAILING & BOATING Send us news, including business press releases, to editor@southwindsmagazine.com. We need to receive them by the 1st of the month preceding publication. Contact us if later (it most likely will get in, but not certain). Okeechobee Water Level Goes Down About 13 Inches Since March As of press date in early April, Lake Okeechobee was at 11.70 feet above sea level. This makes the navigational depth for Route 1, which crosses the lake, 5.64 feet, and the navigational depth for Route 2, which goes around the southern coast of the lake, 3.84 feet. Bridge clearance at Myakka was about 52 feet. For those interested in seeing the daily height of the lake, navigation route depths and bridge clearance, go to http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml (copy this address exactly as it is here with upper and lower cases).

Florida Couple Steal Boat, Sail to Cuba, Go to Jail

Kaisosi, a 40-foot Admiral, the boat that was stolen in March 2018 and sailed to Cuba (people in photo are not the thieves). Photo courtesy Monroe County Sheriff’s office.

The Miami Herald reported that on March 30, 2018, a Florida Keys couple—a 46-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman—kayaked up to a moored 40-foot catamaran in Newfound Harbor near Big Pine Key, boarded the boat and sailed to Cuba. In Cuba, the couple was detained by Cuban authorities, partly because they entered Cuban waters without permission or papers. Cuban authorities soon contacted the U.S. Coast Guard that the vessel had been detained and negotiated with U.S. authorities to return the couple and the boat to the U.S.—but they weren’t returned until they spent six months in a Cuban prison.

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The couple first claimed that they thought the boat was abandoned, but later admitted that they knew it wasn’t because of the good condition the boat was in, admitting that they knew they were stealing the boat. They also claimed that they were planning to return the boat “after taking a honeymoon”—and that they hoped to return the boat to where they found it, avoiding any trouble. After their time in jail in Cuba, they were flown back to the U.S. in September 2018. They then faced a U.S. District Court judge who sentenced them to 2 1/2 years in prison. The couple asked the judge to give them credit for the six months in the Cuban prison, but the judge refused to do so and gave them the maximum sentence allowed. Their jail time will be followed by three years of court supervision (the judge also recommended they complete a substance abuse program). They will also have to pay the boat’s owner for damages to the boat, an amount that has not yet been determined. The boat was reported stolen on March 30—the day that the Keys couple stole it. The Seven Seas Cruising Association put out a radio call to vessels in the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico and Georgia to be on the lookout for the boat. Within days, the vessel was found in Cuba and Cuban officials arrested the couple. The boat’s owner credited social media and the boating community with the return of the boat. The owner had bought the 40-foot Admiral in August 2017 to retire on, but after Hurricane Irma hit the Keys in September 2017, Cisneros, a Keys contractor decided to stick around and help his customers recover from the storm.

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Southwinds May 2019  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...

Southwinds May 2019  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...