Man attempts sail to Cuba on cano
July 2, 2003 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Go south, young man! An MIT student attempts to sail to Cuba on an outrigger canoe. Hallucinations, not hilarity, ensues.
posted by xmutex (24 comments total)

 
Fascinating post, by far one of the best here lately.
posted by 111 at 1:26 PM on July 2, 2003


How did this guy get into MIT?
posted by gottabefunky at 1:46 PM on July 2, 2003


Wow. Quite a read, quite an adventure, quite a character. Thanks for sharing xmutex.
posted by vito90 at 2:02 PM on July 2, 2003


How did this guy get into MIT?

you ever hired anyone, gottabefunky?
posted by andrew cooke at 2:04 PM on July 2, 2003


How did this guy get into MIT?

Well, this is the Media Lab, known in inside-MIT parlance as "the Remedial Lab."
posted by transona5 at 2:08 PM on July 2, 2003


Holy shit.

Best post all month.
posted by angry modem at 2:09 PM on July 2, 2003


Looks like he did a (more successful) trip from Seattle to Alaska back in 2001 in a similar vessel. Interesting fellow.
posted by ehintz at 2:11 PM on July 2, 2003


Excellent stuff xmutex. The sort of post I come here for.
posted by squealy at 2:11 PM on July 2, 2003


(This is good)
posted by trharlan at 2:19 PM on July 2, 2003


How did this guy get into MIT?

Are you suggesting that an intelligent person would have made it to Cuba, or would not have tried at all? I'm glad people like him get into MIT.
posted by dougb at 2:23 PM on July 2, 2003


I should in fact make an addendum, that hallucinations of course ensue and certainly they do not within the bounds of proper grammar ensues but what is one to do?
posted by xmutex at 2:23 PM on July 2, 2003


I supposed their training told them that no one ever really wants to get rescued and will often hide from rescue teams or run away from them, even while starving or freezing.

What an amazing story and an amazing site. And photos!

My vote for "Post of the Year"
posted by anastasiav at 2:31 PM on July 2, 2003


The Media Lab is definitely Special. The projects range from the prototypes of Logo and Lego Mindstorms to web browsers for parrots. They make a habit of bringing in some very unusual students with some very unusual ideas.

Above all, they definitely have to be given credit for demonstrating big ideas on a small scale - get a grad student to design a toy, and the demo makes new ideas accessible to the sponsors who are footing the bill for what is, in the end, real academic research.
posted by whatzit at 2:34 PM on July 2, 2003


FWIW, I plotted the GPS waypoints he gave (thank you, Mapquest.) It looks like he didn't get terribly close to Cuba -- his route roughly follows the Florida coastline at a distance of ~30-60 miles. (Of course, it's possible that there are some points he left out.)

Still, a hell of an adventure. (Even if my primary reaction while reading it was "what the hell was he thinking?")
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:41 PM on July 2, 2003


Let me guess... The wind died, and his prize catch the monterous sailfish he'd tied to the side of his boat was slowly eaten by sharks... am I right?
posted by KnitWit at 2:44 PM on July 2, 2003


That's beautiful. His plain prose suits the tale perfectly.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:51 PM on July 2, 2003


great great great post.

the rest of his site looks really cool too.

i'm planning on reading through his other (apparently more successful) canoe trips.
posted by fishfucker at 3:07 PM on July 2, 2003


That was terrific! Thanks xmutex.

I loved the waves, and their advice. Reminded me of an early Iain Banks novel, like The Bridge.

All those mean "get off this private property" people - and people refusing to let him park his bloody boat!

Deserves to be worked on and made into a little movie, I reckon.
posted by Blue Stone at 4:54 PM on July 2, 2003


I agree with the waves. He is an idiot.

Every year hundreds of Cubans (with at least a minimal understanding of the local currents) make the opposite trip, in rafts that wouldn't be considered safe in a swimming pool. Some of them make it, a lot of them don't.

This guy, probably been reading a little too much Melville and Conrad, voluntarily risks his life by going out in a boat of questionable seaworthiness, a gps but no charts, and presumably, no VHF radio. Oh, that's right, he had the Cruising Guide to the Caribbean.

In the unlikely event he had made it, the Cubans would have siezed his boat, interrogated him, held him for a few weeks, and sent him back, where he would have been busted by Customs.

I'm glad his relatives didn't have to identify his bloated, fish-eaten corpse.
posted by groundhog at 6:52 PM on July 2, 2003


Jon Krakauer, author of Into Thin Air (about the deadly Everest climb he was on a few years back), wrote an interesting book called Into the Wild, mainly about Chris McCandless, the unprepared adventurer who starved to death in a campsite near Everest. While relating his account, those of some other figures in history (such as Nemo aka Everett Ruess; an Alaskan hunter who had a bush pilot drop him off north of the Brooks Range and, um, "forgot" to arrange for a pick-up) and the author himself -- who's had some experiences along the same lines -- he explores the question of why some people (mainly young men) feel bound to push themselves into having adventures for which they're ill-prepared -- or fooling themselves that their experience thus far will always bear them out. Krakauer himself, aside from the (later) Everest experience, spent a few nights in a pup tent atop an isolated mountain near Juneau realizing that he wasn't as good a climber or wilderness guru as a lifetime of serious mountaineering around Seattle had led him to believe. I think it was when his cigarette set his tent on fire that he began to have serious second thoughts. He made it out, but knew that he might easily have not.
posted by dhartung at 7:41 PM on July 2, 2003


Krakauer is brilliant, an effective and lucid writer, and I could only add to your comments a recommendation for his book Eiger Dreams, a collection of articles concerning the harrowing adventures among men and mountains.

Riveting and poetic, the stuff.
posted by xmutex at 7:45 PM on July 2, 2003


Actually dhartung, IIRC, Chris died in an abandoned bus in the Alaskan wilderness, not Everest. Great book, though.
posted by graventy at 8:20 PM on July 2, 2003


This guy, probably been reading a little too much Melville and Conrad, voluntarily risks his life by going out in a boat of questionable seaworthiness, a gps but no charts, and presumably, no VHF radio. Oh, that's right, he had the Cruising Guide to the Caribbean.

Good for him. Better to risk your life attempting something interesting than to waste it doing nothing in safety. Besides, if you look further into his web site you will see that he already had a successful 750-mile trip from Seattle to Ketchikan under his belt, using a similar craft. He didn't exactly jump in the water unprepared.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:44 PM on July 2, 2003


KnitWit - lol! You beat me to it!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:44 AM on July 3, 2003


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