Thomas has travelled the world and seen and met with many people of various backgrounds. His motto is, "Travel is the best teacher".
The sun was not yet up when we woke up and had our breakfast.
By the time we hoist our anchor and then our sails the sun was just beginning to cast its light over the warm ocean like a blanket.
The morning was beautiful. There was a warm breeze and only the sound of Taurus' hull gently slicing through the warm ocean.
By the time Grand Cayman had disappeared from sight the wind had increased in strength.
I don't know what day it was or how much time had passed from the time we left the Cayman Islands to when we were once again inside a violent storm.
We ran around to make sure everything was still secure and we lowered the sails enough to keep us moving and not to capsize
Taurus was taking a beating by the fierce storm and the waves under the ink black clouds.
We were fighting the storm as well and getting blasted by the sea as she washes over the deck.
It took everything we had in strength to keep her upright and moving forward.
By the time the storm began to weaken we were exhausted.
The wind eased up enough several hours later that we were once again able to fully raise the sails again and we walked the deck to make sure everything was still in place and secure.
Dad went to the navigation station to find out our position but our electronic navigation had been knocked out. We also had a sextant which we all knew how to use, but with the heavy cloud cover, the sextant was of no use so we continued on our heading according to the compass and hoped we weren't pushed off course too far from where we ought to be.
Some time passed when we spotted a super tanker off our starboard side so dad got on the radio and called out to them, after a couple of tries we received a response. The tanker captain and dad spoke and they gave us our position, dad thanked them and we mapped out on the charts where we were according to what the captain told us. Something however didn't seem right.
By those coordinates we were way off course. Could it be that we are so far from where we should be? Could the storm have pushed us this far off course? The other storms never did.
We had no choice but to accept what we had been told. Why would the super tanker captain give is the wrong position?
Some time had passed but the heavy cloud cover didn't. We were back to our routine and taking our shift at the helm.
I was sound asleep on my bunk in my cabin when suddenly I was startled awake by a loud bang. Again, within a splt second I was on deck. My brother looked shocked as did my dad. We could hear waves crashing onto rocks, but that can't be.
We went into emergency routine as we realised we had wrecked onto some rocks. We grab the flare guns and dad lights the flood lights. Off our port side is a massive rocky face.
We jump into action like we had been trained. Our dinghy is released into the water and tied up, then our liferaft goes in, with a loud bang she inflates.
We run around and get all the supplies we can get into the dinghy and liferaft. We Also grab all our firearms and ammunition this island we wrecked on could very easily be uninhabited and we need to fish and hunt for food.
We knew Taurus could not be freed from this rocky shore.
I had gotten on the radio and called out a mayday. It took several tries before I received a reply. I gave the man our coordinates as best as I was able. He replied with, "get off the air and stop making false mayday calls, it is a federal offense to do so". I tried to tell him this was a real mayday. No response came back.
We climbed into the life raft and tied the dinghy up to it and as we rowed away we watched Taurus get beaten by the waves onto the rocks...my heart sank with her.
We began to row further and we felt the floor of the liferaft scrape against the sharp rocks, then we noticed water slowly enter. We hoped that she would continue to hold air and float.
As we rowed along the coast we were looking for a sandy area to come to shore on. It was still dark and hard to see.
Suddenly off in the distance we saw a light, possibly headlights so dad fires a red flare, then the lights disappear, this happened another 3 or maybe 4 times but nobody came.
As the sun begins to rise and the cloud cover moves off we see way off in the distance a sand beach. It would probably take a couple of hours of rowing to get there.
Suddenly we hear the sound of vehicles in the distance, as they come closer we see them
"OH, I know where we are" dad says "we are in Cuba".
Dad tells us all to be quiet and do as he says.
The soldiers come to a stop, they rush out of their vehicles and we hear their firearms cock and they point them at us..
The man in charge tells us to come to shore. Dad says that it is too rocky and there are sharp corrals, we will get cut up. (When we abandoned Taurus, we were bare footed)
The man yells at us to come to shore immediately. Well, whose going to argue with men with rifles? So we rowed to shore, several soldiers came down to carry us up the hill on their backs.
Once we made it to their vehicles they had us empty our pockets, while others emptied our lifeboat and dinghy. They got very suspicious when they found all our firearms and my brother emptied his pockets which he had filled with ammunition.
After some time though, they realised we were not a threat and they treated us quite well.
They took all our information and put us into their vehicles and then took us to a place where they questioned us and processed us. That took a few hours.
During processing we met a man in a military uniform, with a thick beard. My brother, sister and I were told that he is the boss.. I know we were now face to face with Fidel Castro. He was so kind and compassionate and made sure that we would be treated with the utmost respect, and we were.
From the processing place we were then taken to a secure gated compound which would become our home for a few weeks.
Our first night under lock and key in the compound was not too bad. We slept quite soundly. The next morning we left our rooms and went downstairs for breakfast. We noticed that they only had one guard and a cook. Dad asked why only one guard, the guard smiled and said, "Where are you going to go, you're on an island". We all laughed and ate our breakfast.
We shipwrecked on May 18th. On May 22 I had my fourteenth birthday, locked up in Cuba. But it really wasn't so bad.
The morning of my birthday we all went downstairs and to my surprise the Cubans had a cake for my birthday with chocolate milk and a nice birthday card as well.
We now also had the run of the compound, we could go anywhere within its gates, so we explored.
The young man in charge of us brought one of his military police officers with the police car and we were taken around to various stores so we could get what we needed, like shoes and toiletries.
During our drives from one place to the next we met other Cuban citizens, they were all so friendly. Cuba is such a beautiful place with such friendly people
The next day we were taken to Taurus, we saw her up on the rocks. She had the port side torn wide open. The soldiers had taken whatever they could and laid the items on the side of the road to dry out. They offered us to take whatever we wanted, but there was really nothing that we could take. Most everything had been ruined.
We did manage to save some photos, but not much at all. Whatever was salvaged was no good to us and other items were lost to the sea.
To see Taurus laying on the rocks, the mast broken off, the sails gone, she looked helpless, sad. It was so heartbreaking.
The yacht that gave us so much joy, so many adventures and saved us during several storms was now at the mercy of the sea and the rocks, slowly being broken up and there is nothing we can do for her.
The next couple of weeks Dad spent time on the phone calling the Canadian embassy and the German embassy looking for help to get us home, they couldn't. It was the American embassy that finally arranged for us to get home.
Once everything was arranged, we boarded a plane and made our way back home to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.
I didn't want the adventures to end, but everything has to come to an end.
I learned a lot sailing from one place to another, from one country to another. I learned that all people, all around our planet just want to live their lives in peace, to love, to form friendships and to have a home and a job; no different from any of us.
When traveling, we are guests in their countries. We need to look at the people as our brothers and sisters, not judging their lives, beliefs, government etc based on our own.
Look at their country with open eyes and minds and hearts. Treat them the way you want to be treated.
There are so many stories I can tell you from my travels.
Perhaps one day I will.
In the meantime remember that we all have the same Father, He is God, the creator of all.
(We found out, while in Cuba that the Super Tanker gave us the wrong position, he had smuggled oil and was afraid of getting caught, so he gave us the wrong position for fear of being heard, his position being found out and getting caught)
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 thomasczech