Cuban migrants come ashore in Bal Harbour

Migrants say they spent 11 days at sea

BAL HARBOUR, Fla. – A group of eight Cuban migrants came ashore early Tuesday morning in Bal Harbour after spending 11 days at sea.

The group of eight men said they faced bad weather, which lengthened their trip and forced them to ration their food in order to survive.

Bal Harbour police Capt. Miguel de la Rosa said the men washed up on an island to wait out the storm before continuing their voyage.

"While they were on that island, they went ahead and they ate whatever they could find -- fish, some lobster," de la Rosa said.

The migrants arrived on a wooden, homemade raft with a motor. They were spotted by a pair of beachgoers, who alerted police.

Police said the migrants were given water and towels by staff at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort.

Once the migrants were examined by paramedics and deemed to be in good health, they were turned over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Vicente Ocampo could not hold back the tears while thinking of his 10-year-old daughter, whom he left behind because he knew the voyage was too dangerous.

Ocampo told Local 10 News that the homemade boat they used to leave Cuba was named after his daughter, Noelsi Maribel.

He said they were at sea for 11 days after departing from Holguin.

Another migrant, Alexander Uliber, said they had packed food for four days, but they had to figure out how to make it last. The food they brought on their voyage included crackers, drinks and peanut butter.

Under the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, Cubans who make landfall on U.S. soil are typically allowed to stay, while those intercepted at sea are sent back.

One of the men said it was his ninth attempt trying to cross the Florida Straits.

Once they are interviewed and processed, the migrants were taken to Catholic Charities in Doral.

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