Homemade boat found on Fort Lauderdale beach
On 2nd January, 2015, just at the break of day, Fort Lauderdale photographer Andy Royston was enjoying his everyday morning routine -walking on the beach. He has been doing this for several years now,capturing the beauty of the dawn as the sunrises over the ocean.
That Friday morning though, it was an unfamiliar sight that greeted him.
Yes, a battered and abandoned homemade boat. What could be the story behind this? The one that immediately comes to mind is that the boat was used by Cubans, fleeing the country and hoping to make a new life in the United States.
Wet foot, dry foot policy for Cubans
This policy, established in 1995, means that if Cuban nationals are found at sea (in other words ‘wet foot’) by the authorities, they will be sent back to their own country. However, if they are discovered on American soil (‘dry foot’) then they are considered to be legally considered for full-time residency after a period of one year.
As Cuba is only about ninety miles south of Florida, the Fort Lauderdale and Miami areas are magnets for those fleeing their country.
The homemade boat
As you can see above, the boat has a sail and rudder fashioned from tree trunks. Sheets of plywood forms the crude deck. Old tarpaulin covers the hull and plastic foam adds buoyancy.
There were two straw hats inside the boat.
It was deserted and before long,someone called the police who were investigating the vessel.Who were the occupants? Where were they now?
Although I think that the above theory- that of Cuban refugees – is more likely, there’s also the rather romantic notion that a small craft might have been shipwrecked on one of the uninhabited islands in the Bahamas and its occupants had fashioned the homemade escape boat from the wreckage.
What do you think?
More photographs below.