Sunday 17 December 2017

'Very homemade, improvised' Cuban refugee boat washes up on Sligo beach

The boat believed to have been used by Cuban refugees that washed up in Co Sligo Photo: Gordon Fallis
The boat believed to have been used by Cuban refugees that washed up in Co Sligo Photo: Gordon Fallis
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

An old boat believed to have been used by Cuban refugees has washed up on a beach in Co Sligo.

The "homemade" and "improvised" boat was found by Gordon Fallis on the Cliffoney beach.

"I was out for a walk on Sunday morning and I spotted this huge thing on the beach. I had no idea what it was but it looked like some kind of boat.

"It was very homemade and improvised. It had a car engine and water bottles to keep it afloat," Gordon told Independent.ie.

The boat believed to have been used by Cuban refugees Photo: Gordon Fallis
The boat believed to have been used by Cuban refugees Photo: Gordon Fallis

Gordon posted images of the boat to the Lost at Sea Facebook page to help identify it.

"A man in Florida helped me to identify it and said it looked exactly like boats that Cubans used to use. When I checked the water bottles used to make the boat they were all Cuban mineral water bottles."

The boat believed to have been used by Cuban refugees Photo: Gordon Fallis
The boat believed to have been used by Cuban refugees Photo: Gordon Fallis

Gordon said that the boat had developed goose barnacles which he says suggests it has been in the water for a long time.

The boats, which were nicknamed "Cuban Chugs", would have been used by Cubans to escape to America.

In a former US Policy called 'Wet Foot, Dry Foot', if the Cubans were caught in the water they were sent home, but if they made it to the US soil, they would be granted residency.

This treatment was unique to Cuban Refugees and not available to any other migrants. This Policy was ended on Jan 12, 2017 by Barack Obama.

Gordon said that he hopes the boat will be preserved.

"It's still there at the moment. We're hoping it will be preserved but we'll have to wait and see."

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