The boat spy

Hardy was feeling pretty damn good about himself on Sunday after landing several bones and a tarpon, his second of the trip. Actually, everyone had a fine day. Cam got four bones, Nick had a couple as well and a barracuda, and Greg got a nice-sized yellowjack which he brought back for dinner. When Hardy has had a particularly good day, as he did yesterday, he likes to gather his friends around him and wax on about how fine life can be. “Enjoy it, lads,” he’ll say. “Carpe diem.”

Usually after a day of fishing we sit around the lounge area of the Avalon. Suliet will make us cocktails—a different one every night—and then bring up one of Eduardo’s pizzas for an appetizer. But yesterday we finished fishing a little earlier than usual and it was still a very fine evening, calm and warm with no wind, so Hardy rounded up the group, grabbed the cigars and pizza, and headed up to the very top of the boat where everyone could sit around smoking their Cohibas and watching the sunset.

I’d forgotten to take sunscreen out with me in the afternoon and so was feeling a little dry and crispy and decided I’d let the boys have their cigars while I spread out on one of the wicker lounges and just relaxed. Suliet came out from the crew quarters and joined me and then Eric, the boat’s captain came out as well. This is rare. We have conversations with the crew all week long, of course, but seldom is there an intersection of work and pleasure where you can actually sit down with a couple of crew members and have a conversation.

Suliet was extremely amused when I asked who was the boat spy. Photo by Chris Fletcher.

Suliet wanted to know how the trip was going so far and if there was anything the crew could do, now or in the future, that would make the experience even better. I told her we were all very happy being on the Avalon and felt that we not only had gotten the best guides we’d ever had but also the best overall crew. And it was true. Eric speaks a little English but Suliet asked my permission to translate what I said into Spanish for him. He listened to her carefully and nodded, pleased.

“Now I’ve got a question for you,” I said. “Would you mind telling me who the spy is on the boat?”

“Excuse me?” she said, thinking perhaps she hadn’t heard me properly. “The spy?”

“At first we thought it might be Coki,” I told her, “but he’s too good a guide and fisherman to have time for spying so now we think it must be Leissan.”

Leissan was like an assistant on the boat. I don’t know what his exact title was. He was just one of the guys in the background who did whatever was asked of him from hosing down the dive equipment to bringing up platters of food from the galley. He was also extremely buff and had a bearing about him as if he’d been in the military at one time—or still was.

“You think Leissan is a spy?” Suliet said, laughing.

“Well, or maybe Jorge.”

Suliet started to laugh in that way when something is so funny that even if you try to stop laughing you can’t. “Please,” she said when she could catch her breath, “may I tell the captain this?”

Sure, I told her. Still laughing, she told the captain that we thought Leissan was a Cuban spy. The captain started laughing just as hard as Suliet. They’d look at each other, say Leissan’s name, and then bend over in fits of hilarity. The captain said something to Suliet and she said to me, “Please, he would like to know why you think Leissan is a spy.”

I told her that we figured every boat had to have a spy on it. Otherwise, what would prevent the crew from taking the boat to Miami. Surely there must be somebody on board associated with the military or security to make sure the crew stayed in line and also to hear what the American customers were up to. Suliet found this so hilarious that she started laughing and crying at the same time. She was laughing so hard I was afraid she was going to throw up. She translated it for Eric and he also got tears in his eyes laughing.

When they could finally breath again, Suliet assured me there were no spies on the boat. Particularly not Leissan. They do not need spies, she said. We all have families. Kids. You could leave us alone on this boat for a month and we wouldn’t go anywhere she said. Besides, we all like our jobs. And we make good money. And then she said the word “spy” again and started laughing. When she had partially composed herself again, she asked me if I would mind if she went and told Leissan and the others this story. “It is a very funny story,” she assured me.

And then she and the captain headed back towards the crew quarters, both of them giggling like little kids, anxious to go tell the Cuban crew the hilarious story of how the Americans think there is a spy on the boat.

I was just glad I could entertain them.

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1 comment

  1. Chris’s avatar

    As wonderful as the drink and cohiba was on the upper deck, I feel that I missed a special moment with the spy stories with the crew. The most poignant experiences for me throughout our Cuba travels was talking with the Cuban locals and realizing that despite the political divide between the two countries, on a personal basis, there is no animosity at all between Cubans and Americans. Our preconceptions about the environment full of spies was met with warmth and laughter instead of ridicule and mistrust.

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