Cover

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Half Title, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quotations

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Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Preface

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pp. xi-xvi

I’m an itinerant environmental writer who often finds himself in strange overseas locales to tell a story—narratives that find their way into print, on film, even as “content” on the Internet. It is at once uncertain and challenging, stimulating and exciting. It is seldom dull. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xvii-xviii

Thanks to Michael L. Smith, Senior Research Scientist with the Center for Marine Conservation, who provided valuable background information on Cuba, as did Georgina Bustamante, Marine Conservation Coordinator for the Caribbean Division of The Nature Conservancy. ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

Dramatic sea voyages of discovery aren’t special to the hyperreality of the Information Age. After all, what was perhaps the prototypical maritime adventure had its first run somewhere in the eighth century B.C., when Odysseus took an especially slow boat home from the Trojan War in Homer’s Odyssey. ...

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1. Fort Pierce, Florida

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pp. 13-30

The “campus” of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution (HBOI) sprawls at the edge of the Indian River Lagoon at Fort Pierce, on Florida’s east coast. To reach it, I turn at a modest HBOI sign on U.S. 1 and drive up to a checkpoint, where a uniformed guard deliberates before letting me through. ...

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2. The Windward Passage and Santiago de Cuba

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pp. 31-46

The key players cram into Giddings’s stateroom this evening for a briefing on what we might expect after we arrive in Santiago de Cuba. We are still somewhere off the windward coast of the island, not yet around the eastern horn, and the weather is brisk. ...

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3. Bahía de Baitiquirí and El Uvero

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pp. 47-64

Overnight, we have backtracked, steaming ninety miles east of Santiago, circling wide to avoid the restricted boundaries of Guantánamo, until we finally anchor off the remote Bahía de Baitiqurí. The mouth of the bay that U.S. servicemen and women word-squeeze as “Gitmo” is back on the other side of the cape we have just rounded. ...

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4. Chivirico and Cabo Cruz

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pp. 65-82

This morning, we get a good dose of the special Orwellian spin the Cuban government sometimes applies to reality. Thanks to Claro and Alcolado, who alert us to its existence, we plan to dive on a seamount a mile and a half offshore, one that ambitiously rises up three thousand feet from the bottom as a steep volcanic summit, ...

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5. Laberinto de las Doce Leguas and Tortuga Hotel

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pp. 83-99

By night, the Seward has traveled across the open mouth of the Gulf of Guacanayabo, beyond the cayos of Manzanillo and Balandras and the mainland fishing harbors of Santa Cruz del Sur and Manzanillo. In a strategy meeting up on the bridge last night, the captain told us a winter front is preparing to move through. ...

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6. Cayos de las Doce Leguas and Banco Jagua

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pp. 100-121

After a quick breakfast of plantains and rice, Cuban bread, and espresso, we load into the boats and make a run for it before the wind picks up again. Skies are overcast, and the seas are still rough, but the waves are half the size they were yesterday afternoon. ...

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7. Archipiélago de los Canarreos

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pp. 122-146

In the last day, John McCosker has performed brain surgery on a jaw fish, Richard Fagen has ridden the sub back into time, and our cook has made an emergency medical trip ashore. As for me, I have explored a lonely, undefiled island that glistened with pink sand—and in doing so, ...

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8. Cayos Aguardientes and Sambo Head

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pp. 147-169

We are over deep water, somewhere south of the Canarreos chain. What are mapped as the desolate islands of Cayos Aguardientes are due north, shimmering like a mirage under the warm tropical sun. I’ve been given the opportunity to ride in the JSL this morning, and I take it as an early Christmas present, the only one I’m likely to get. ...

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9. Isla de la Juventud, Ensenada de la Siguanea, and Punta Francés

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pp. 170-193

Today we are riding the southeasterly trades to Isla de la Juventud, out here at the lip of the Golfo de Batabanó. Last night, the misty grouper was baked for dinner, and the fillets of the big fish were much tougher than I’d imagined, almost like pork. ...

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10. Cabo Francés and María la Gorda

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pp. 194-213

By 9 P.M., Cuba has vanished, consumed in the black night—all gone except for a distant flicker of a lighthouse marking the exact place where the mainland has been squeezed into a point of treachery at Cabo Francés. Off the stern of the Seward, large red squid—perhaps two-pounders—have been darting about at the surface, ...

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11. La Habana and Anticipation

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pp. 214-231

New Year’s Eve was spent rounding the horn of Cabo San Antonio in the dead of night, sneaking out of the lee where we have spent most of the last month and, with our 204-foot-long oceanographic ship, breaching the wide open sea. Since we were navigating the narrowest point between the mainland of Cuba and Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, ...

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12. Fidel, Retrospective, and Back across the Florida Straits

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pp. 232-247

I have been seeing a triumvirate of symbols over and over again since I have been in Cuba: José Martí, Che, and Fidel. We have been expecting to meet the only living member of this trio sometime after our arrival in Havana, and now Ricardo passes the word to everyone that El Comandante will visit the ship around 6 P.M. this evening. ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 248-252

An Associated Press article appeared worldwide after we docked, with a photo—which I had snapped and posted to the Web site—of Giddings and Castro next to the JSL. Radio Havana later used portions of the dispatch in its own report. High-ranking Discovery programming officials were oddly nervous ...

Bibliography

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pp. 253-262

Index

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pp. 263-273