Photos by Onne van der Wal
The islands beckon — the warm breezes, the friendly people, the rum punches and reggae bands. “Don’t worry, don’t hurry, take it easy.” Yet more than anything else it is the island waters that stir our imagination and remind us that there is more to life than the 9-to-5 treadmill, the cold and gray winters — and “Survivor.”
Havana’s Hemingway International Yacht Club turns 20, and, yes, there will be fishing tournaments
Something happened back in 1992 that surely had the late revolutionary Che Guevara spinning in his unmarked grave. Cuban leader Fidel Castro gave permission for a new yacht club in the suburbs of Havana.
The Soviet Union had just withdrawn its troops and had quit sending the Castro government more than $2 billion in annual subsidies. The land of “rum, rhumba and revolution” had entered a time of crisis known as the “Special Period.”
Soaking it all up in the Sponge Capital of America
With dockage among downtown boutiques, Greek restaurants and the sponging fleet, Tarpon Springs, on Florida’s west coast, is delightfully unusual in a state that’s been succumbing to condominiums and other non-marine waterfront development.
Along Dodecanese Boulevard, you’ll wend your way through dried, sorted sponges piled on the sidewalk. At the Sponge Docks, fishermen in rubber boots tromp on mesh bags of wet sponges, squeezing out any organic residue. Lines of drying sponges hang from boats’ rigging. Shops are nearly bursting with yellow, finger, flower pot and wool sponges. Their tough, resilient skeletons compress easily, absorb up to 25 times their weight in water and can be quickly wrung dry.
In-the-know boaters on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway or Gulf of Mexico seek out Tarpon Springs, the unique Greek sponging port on Florida’s west coast. East of Anclote Key, a 3-mile, well-marked dredged channel follows the Anclote River to the city.
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