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Vol. 14 No. 26 - April 23, 2014

Diana Nyad: Long Distance Dreamer

SUN PHOTO/DEE BRADY
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Sun contributor and boating enthusiast Dee Brady is back in the Keys with long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad as she makes her second attempt to be the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida. Her first attempt last year had to be cut short because of bad weather but this year, Diana says she is in the best shape possible and the weather forecast is looking good. Dee, meanwhile, will once again be driving her 34-foot motorized catamarn, Voyager 1, as an escort vessel for Diana and will chronicle the journey in her blog for Sun readers. Currently, Diana and her support team are in Key West training for the swim, which is expected to happen, depending on the weather, later this month.

 

 

 

Tuesday, August 2
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Members of Diana Nyad's support team are in
Cuba this week, waiting for the weather to clear
so the long-distance swimmer can attempt her
historic swim from Cuba to Key West.
PHOTO BY DEE BRADY

Hey there. We have now been here 10 days. Loving Havana Viejo. Loving Marina Hemingway but also it's small in the neighborhood. We rented a car and drove a little over 100 miles to a town called Vinales. That’s where they grow tabasco for cohibas. It's the country compared to Havana the city. The next day we drove 60 miles north to the coast to a tourist beach and a causeway to an island called Cayo Jusitao on the north coast of Cuba. Just spectacular! Some went horseback riding, some drove to town and ate and drank. Guess who? Our host, Jean Pierre, was gracious and an incredible cook. I had lobster two nights in a row complete with avocado, black beans, rice, tomatoes, cucumbers, bread, etc. etc. Anyway, great two days out of the city.

Oh the swim.

We were hoping for a break on Tuesday but that is out now. Nothing till at least next Friday so we are heading to a place called Veradero for a couple of nights. Will report back.

Sunday, July 24

Hey everyone.  We got off the dock in Key West at 0500 as planned.

Everyone got up to wish us bon voyage. It was absolutely exciting!!!!  This was just a step closer to this whole deal being completed. We were all up at 0300, at the dock at 0400, and departed at 0500 right into a squall.

Okey doaky. So this is one thing we need to deal with on this adventure and it was good for us to get into that predicament. Just me, David, Maya, and Tim and we are scurrying around tying things down that we thought we could do later in the trip. But anyway, we putted slowly to let the squall pass and then got to witness a fantastic sunrise and the seas layed down and we all looked around at each other and said, holy crap, we are on our way to Havana!!!

I can’t describe to you what a feeling that was....punch in Marina Hemingway on your gps and just keep on keeping on. We had loaded plenty of food, drink, and goodies for the kids in Havana. It took a total of 11 hours but we had stopped many times along the way so David could check currents at different points during the trip. Not to mention being in this beautiful deep blue water and just jumping off Voyager to take a dip. We could not have better conditions to make the voyage.

We celebrated this being Voyager 1's first international journey and did a lot of whooping and hollering. The view of Havana coming in from the water is just spectacular. Last year I flew in so it’s a very different experience boating into Havana in your own boat. I could go on and on about MY experience but that is not what this is about. We pulled into Cuban customs and you would have thought we were rock stars. Everyone knew Voyager 1 and why we were there. Kathy Loreetta from Mexico had come in days before to make arrangements for us and had spoken to all the principles about the swim. We still had to go through all the regular customs clearance procedures but the different departments that are involved with the clearance were all very nice and it is evident that you are welcomed in Cuba.

Once we got through with customs and immigrations we were received at Marina Hemingway, found our slip and checked into our hotel room right on the canal where Voyager is docked. As luck would have it, the Diana Nyad story had just aired on Cuban television the night before so we were all the buzz as we came into customs and the marina. Oh but again, it’s not about me. We are in a lovely hotel in the marina, meals etc. all included. Stayed on the campus last night and each of us were beat so had some dinner and hit the sack. Today, we did some business. David had a killer toothache, but he knows a friend that lives in Havana, so he called her, she whisked us through to hospital today in like 20 minutes and 25 dollars later he was fixed. Amazing!

Then a cab down to old town and lunch at the Floradito, an old Hemingway hangout. Daquaris and lobster for lunch, almost for peanuts. Tim did some work today with Commadore Eschrich who also met us as we came in yesterday to arrange for some cars and boats to confirm the best place for Diana to start her swim from.  We walked around old town this afternoon and came back to the marina and had another meeting with a local boat captain to lay out some logistics for the next few days.  Nice to know i can pay for internet at our hotel. Patty has been nice enought to forward this to our whole mailing list for me, so everything is going very well. This island is incredible, hope to be doing some sightseeing in the next couple of days.
Friday, July 22

Just got our permit to enter Cuba. Still not sure what the us coast guard has to do with that but we got their holy water  On orange alert to leave at 0400 am ma?ana    I'll email as  I'm pulling away from the dock    Woo hoo!

Wednesday, July 20

Well kids, we never made it off the dock last night. We spent the whole day readying Voyager with last minute purchases, gas, ice, fuel, etc. Stowing, stowing, stowing. I felt like we were loading Mirage for 4 months in the Bahamas again.

4:30 jU.S.t enough time to grab a late lunch, go grab our personal stuff and take off. Right? Wrong! With the U.S. Commerce Department license in hand and the permits from the U.S. Office of Foreign Affairs in hand and the engines almost running the U.S. Coast Guard has now decided they need to be involved and give their own permission for us to go. Unheard of. Yesterday was a big media day and we got a call from the Coast Guard saying you are not leaving yet.

So it's back to the house, download their stinking forms, fill them out and fax them to them last night along with copies of our permission from the Commerce Department and the Stat Department. Bureaucracy at it's finest.

Real high emotions yesterday, a very positive step forward in this project, and then all of that snatched away from us.

We still have a weather window of tonight. Not sure how long the Coast Guard takes to grind its wheels but the hope is they will have this completed by today and we can leave tonight. After Thursday, winds are forecasted to pick up again.

Stay tuned 

Tuesday, July 19

Today's the day! Well for me at least. We are heading to Cuba tonight!!!! Voyager goes over first and the rest of the armada and Diana come on the next good weather window.  We inch closer and closer and you can just feel the intensification.  When we pull away from that dock tonight. OH MY GOD !

Went out to the Dry Tortugas yesterday and the return trip was glass for 70 miles!!!  We got good news from commodore Eschrich from Hemingway Marina yesterday that they are ready for us to arrive, so here we go !!!

More Words of Encouragement

Wow Dee - thanks for the mention!

We had a ball. It was SO wonderful to meet the team and meet Diana. We felt we knew most of them from your wonderful descriptions.  As for the day on Voyager - that was fantastisic. We love Alyce and Don and David and Maya are so much fun - but hey David is a Brit!!!

Picked up your mail, you didn't tell me I'd need a wheelbarrow - there was so much! Anyway, put it in the condo along with that other thing I told you about that we didn't bring to Key west !

Have a great day in the Dry Tortugas - I think Captain George is quite jealous!

Chris said you'd be on your way by Thursday, but hey so will we! (S'''t) Capt George, Anita, Lil Dick, Howie & us are out on Mystic Dolphin on Wednesday - Howie has orgainised it! Howie is coming to us for breakfast on Tuesday.

All our love and luck to you all and especially Diana for a sucessful swim. She deserves success.

Love you
Al, Chris & Mathew

Sunday, July 17
Flat Key West Water - Diana Nyad

Flat Key West Water

Wow what a day! The entire team met today at Finnegan’s Wake, an Irish bar in Key West to watch the women,s final world cup soccer this afternoon. What a heartbreaker that was. What a great game it was. And how cool for all of us to be together like that.

Well we have been doing a lot of practicing and a lot of waiting and a lot of questioning when are we going to go. We have had two false alarms so far – i.e. we are going tomorrow only to have that plan changed. So as of today our last swim was yesterday, 8 hours, beautiful weather here, flat calm, but the forecast was not good for the next 6 days or so. So if anyone wanted to go home or do something else now was the time to do that. So we were kind of disbanding for a bit and our next swim would be next Thursday. So I booked a trip to the Dry Tortugas on a ferry that runs out of Key West on Monday. I mean I have 4 days off. I could have driven back home in that amount of time but decided to hang here and do the Dry Tortugas trip. (which I've done in the past and is just crazy awesome.)

Well, while we are watching the soccer game Diana gets an email from her weather people saying that because of the disturbance in the Bahamas the water between Key West and Cuba will be perfect for crossing. Holy shit!!!! Now all of a sudden it's exciting and it's pandemonium and we are not ready!!!  We need to provision Voyager, get money and oh my god what do I wear????!!!! To a 3 day swim. Now Voyager will be the first boat to cross. That will be me, David, Maya, and Tim, Diana’s nephew, filming the event. The rest of the armada will come on the next good weather forecast. We need to get over to make friends, check currents, and get the lay of the land. Please keep in mind this can all change in a day but it looks like we may be heading to Cuba by Tuesday at sunset! We will travel at night to arrive at Hemingway Marina at daylight. So many details to figure out between now and then but I think I'm still gonna fit the Dry Torts in tomorrow.

My friends from England that visit Anna Maria every year are there now and I was afraid I was going to miss them but they were nice enough to jump the Fort Myers ferry to Key West to come say hello. I was on a swim the day they arrived so they found their hotel right off the ferry, did Duval, loved Key West, and then attended a pizza party/meeting at my house where Diana led the meeting and the whole crew was in attendance. It was a real working meeting so they got to witness some real behind the scenes stuff. The next day we were off so David, Maya, Don, Alyce, and I took them out on Voyager all around Key West. We cruised, swam, and boated them around the harbor to drop them off to catch the ferry back to Fort Myers. What a day we had!!!  And I did not miss them after all

So as of this writing Voyager may be could be leaving for Cuba on Tuesday or Wednesday at sunset.

I will be emailing you when we definitely pull away from the dock. I am getting excited !!!!!!!

Words of Encouragement

These are some of the texts and emails of encouragement from Island residents that Dee is receiving.

feel very privileged to feel like a small part of this, THANK YOU.
It makes me really emotional!!! What a POWERFUL women!
Be safe!
Patty Prudente

what an adventure and sounds like she is spot on ! good on ya diana ! 
Nancy Feely

wow, I will be watching you every step of the way my friend!! Take care and keep in touch
Jackie Lepley

Wow, her writing of her beliefs is awe inspiring.  Wish I knew her like you do.  Best of luck to everyone involved!
Mike Martin

Very focused and inspiring! Good luck on your end and enjoy
Dave McCormick

Onward to passion, fulfillment of potential and BIG DREAMS. Nice mission Dee! I'll be watching you.
Joan Dickinson

Friday, July 8

Well we've all heard the old adage, if you don't like the plan just wait 10 minutes cause it will change. Well nothing could be truer in our case. On Tuesday at 4:00 David, Maya, and I were taking Voyager over to Cuba today. At 7:00 pm the same day that plan was off. David wants to get to Cuba to test and play with currents down there as well as we need to but the water temps are just not where they need to be and Diana did not want us sitting down there should it be another 3 weeks or so. Not that we would mind hanging in Cuba for 3 weeks but we lose communication most part and Diana loses Voyager for training. So the decision was made to wait. Hard because the wind was going to be perfect for making the crossing but we will just have to wait for the next one. Once that decision was made I was free to take some days. We were off on Wed. and we had a swim scheduled for Thurs. but it was cancelled due to rain so we've just been bopping around Key West eating at great restaurants and listening to some great music.

Had a great 4th of July BBQ, fire works etc. Driving up to Miami as we speak. Flying to Ct/NYC for the weekend. Back Monday and back to the Keys for a Tuesday training swim. And continue to watch the weather. Not sure if I mentioned but Mirage has signed on to be one of the mother ships so it looks like the crew of Voyager will be sleeping on Mirage when not on shift. How funny - I'm going right back to Mirage so soon. So I'm off for the weekend.  Will be back in touch next week.

Saturday, July 2, Part 2
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Yahoo films a practice swim.

Good Saturday morning. Well we completed a very successful 9 hour swim on Thursday. Diana swam very well and said she felt great! Gets out of the water like it was nothing! She is truly amazing! Ops team on Voyager all really tight. We rotated driving between myself, Maya, and Mark. David, of course, on board navigating. Conditions somewhat bumpy for the first half of the day but sweetly flattened out as the afternoon went on. Also on board in the morning we had a reporter and photographer from the New York Times and a reporter from ESPN in the afternoon  Friday was no swim so we bummed around Key West a bit. We got moved into a sweet little conch house that we are sharing for now with Tim and his film crew. Took Voyager out last night without Diana to check out lighting on the streamer that she follows as she swims. All successful.

We are doing an 8 hour swim today at 1 so she can swim in the dark and double check the lighting again.

We are starting to get some positive feedback from her weather folks on good current information. Still waiting for higher water temps. Right now averaging 84-85. She needs 87. But that should start warming up pretty quickly. Full moon is July 15th. Boy wouldn’t it be sweet to do this on a full moon.  Ok, more to follow stay tuned. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The swim IS on again! After having to cancel last year’s attempt at swimming the 103 miles from Cuba to the Florida Keys Diana Nyad and her ops team are back in Key West readying for this historical, amazing feat once again. Diana arrived in Key West one week ago today. I brought Voyager, her escort boat for the swim to Key West last Monday, and the rest if her Key ops team also arrived Monday. Tuesday morning we started right off the bat with a 7 hour training swim.

Diana is in tremendous shape as she swam all spring in St. Maarten, where water temperatures were warm enough for her to do so.

Thursday we did a 9 hour, very successful training swim. Today we are doing an 8 hour swim that will take us into the night so we can test some of the lighting equipment set up for the night swims. We will stay and continue training in Key West until we get a good weather day and then make the crossing into Hemingway Marina in Havana. We will then do some training off of Havana until we see a good 3 - 4 day weather pattern, good current, and the right water temperature and then the swim is on! Right now the average water temp off Key West is 84 - 85 degrees. Diana needs it to be 86 - 88.

Typically toward the middle or end of July those water temps are there as well as the doldrums. Days on end of little to no wind. Will keep you updated as we get closer and closer but this could start to happen pretty quickly. Stay tuned. THE SWIM IS ON!

Wednesday, June 29

Beautiful boat ride from marathon to key west.   New territory for me on the water.   Left marathon at 10:30 out under the 7 mile bridge  arrived key west at 3:30.  Beautiful day listening to music on the new stereo that jeff installed, a few beers, good munchies and just enjoyed the ride.   We pulled onto a sandbar right outside oceanside marina for a swim and so jeff could change the props to lower pitch for the training and the swim   We get ourselves into the marina and find our slip , getting the boat all cleaned up and organized because we are having a small ops get together with everyone that has arrived in town on Monday   Well we start getting phone calls from everyone driving in that they can't get to the marina.  There is a chlorine leak  a block from the marina and the one road that leads to the marina is closed 

No one gets in which means we were not getting out.  None of our rides could get in.   So we sat, drank more beer and just hung.  4 hours later the road was opened and people started coming in.  David marchant navigator, my cousin, David kaplan kayaker, Diana, Bonnie her trainer etc.   It was like old home week.  Very exciting to see all of this come back together.    Very exciting to see everyone involved and meet the new players involved.    Needless to say our little ops meeting was cancelled so off to a quick lovely dinner and that day was over.   Next day we bang out a mere 8 hour swim right off the bat.  Everything went very well.  Last years equipment came together, the boat driving, the people involved, their roles.   Had some pretty fair sized swells in the am but they laid down as the day went on. So Diana swims 8 hours, I'm on the wheel about an hour at a time rotating with other drivers.    I'm dead tired when I get off the boat but she goes immediately to a local radio station radio interview at tgi Fridays.    Amazing.  We listen to it in the car on the way home from the marina.   

Off today.  Me and cuz and the non captain spent the day cruising key west.  Met Laurie Kee and her friends for lunch at Louise backyard. Need I say more.  Just the best. Just got a call from Diana.  Tomorrow we are doing 9 hours starting at 9 am.   Attaching a short video of yesterdays swim.


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