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4 adventurers kayak from Havana to Key West

Oru Kayak team embarks on risky 110-mile journey

HAVANA – A team of four adventurers departed Wednesday morning from the Marina Hemingway in Havana and are navigating the Florida Straits on their way to Key West .

Chris Brinlee, Jr., an adventure photographer, is from Lyon, Colorado. Andy Cochrane, Oru Kayak's director of marketing, is from San Francisco, California. Wyatt Roscoe, an industrial designer for Quest Renewables, lives in Atlanta.  

The only member of the team who is not from the United States is Wes Siler, a contributing editor at Outside magazine, who is from London. The four of them are using foldable Oru kayaks made out of corrugated plastic.

"There will be no sleeping, no real rest," Brinlee said. 

Brinlee said they will be thinking about the many Cubans who have risked their lives crossing the Florida Straits in search of a better life. According to the U.S. Coast Guard the number of Cubans caught at sea decreased after former President Barack Obama put an end to the "wet-foot dry-foot" policy allowing Cubans who touched U.S. land to stay.

It will take them 30 to 40 hours to paddle about 110 miles to get to the Key West Marina. They will be battling exhaustion, waves, wind, hot sun and sharks. Brinlee shared a video of the excessive vomiting that he experienced during a shorter kayaking trip. 

They won't be alone. A Sunluver Charters catamaran will be following the team as a precaution. A group of members of the Federación Cubana de Canoas Kayak Sport will also be following them on their journey to Key West. 

"I have never done a crossing like this, but there are comparable things that I have done," Cochrane said. 

Brinlee wearing a Garmin GPS technology, which allows others to track his journey. Click here to view a map with his location

Local 10 News Andrea Torres contributed to this story. 


About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.