A Florida charter captain helped rescue Cuban refugees from drowning.

Florida Captain Helps Rescue Cuban Refugees from Drowning Leave a comment

The 53-foot Hatteras sportfishing boat Ana Banana was roughly 20 miles off the east coast of the Center Florida Keys final month when Captain Joel Brandenburg noticed one thing bobbing within the rolling waves.

“We have been headed for a day of tuna and mahi [dolphin] fishing with 4 anglers from Wisconsin once I noticed one thing a couple of quarter-mile away, and rapidly realized it was a small raft with 10 males on board,” says Brandenburg. “It was tough, and the raft was taking over water. Two of the boys have been bailing continuous to maintain the raft afloat.”

Brandenburg contacted the U.S. Coast Guard on his boat radio to alert them of the state of affairs and the situation of the boys within the raft. Authorities advised Brandenburg to remain near the raft however suggested him to not attempt any sort of boat-to-boat rescue. The Coast Guard estimated they’d have a cutter on the scene in about two and a half hours.

“The boys within the boat have been out of consuming water and [looked] severely dehydrated, so we received shut with our Hatteras and pitched them a case of water,” says Brandenburg. “They have been staying afloat as long as they bailed water out of the raft.”

A video offered by Captain Joel Brandenburg of the U.S. Coast Guard aiding the Cuban refugees.

Dolphin generally college round any sort of floating object within the ocean, and Brandenburg says they made a pair passes across the raft—and caught just a few fish—whereas they waited for the USCG to reach.  

Brandenburg explains that the raft seemed to be created from reduce 55-gallon drums, which have been welded right into a floating raft about 18-feet lengthy. The boys had a small sail to maneuver the boat and solely a single paddle.

About two and a half hours after he radioed the USCG, a cutter arrived on the scene to rescue the refugees. The cutter despatched a smaller inflatable Coast Guard boat with twin outboards to rescue the boys. Then Brandenburg left the scene together with his constitution fishing celebration and headed again to Marathon round 3 p.m. He recorded the occasion with a number of cellphone movies.

The Marathon Hump is an underwater mountain and a well known fishing space the place depths vary from 480 to 1,150 toes. It’s additionally a famous spot for large sharks, together with nice whites, though oversize tigers and bull sharks are extra widespread.

“It’s not the place to capsize a raft, as a result of sharks is usually a actual drawback there,” says Brandenburg, who’s been guiding out of Marathon for 3 years; earlier than that, he ran a long-time constitution enterprise out of Tampa Bay. Throughout his first two years operating charters out of Marathon, Brandenburg found simply two deserted Cuban rafts. However over the last 12 months, he’s discovered 15 Cuban rafts—solely two of which had passengers.

“[I’ve seen] an actual surge of Cuban refugees attempting to achieve the U.S. over the past 12 months,” Brandenburg says. “Plenty of Keys anglers and captains are seeing their rafts and calling in rescues from the Coast Guard.”

Brandenburg says many Cubans who’ve made the journey in such do-it-yourself rafts describe the 90-plus-mile passage as a dangerous journey that may take 8 to 10 days. Most refugees endure from dehydration and even hallucinations, or drown. “I do know a quantity who’ve made it,” says Brandenburg, “and it’s a harrowing expertise.”

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