A 40-foot catamaran stolen from the Lower Keys last week turned up in Cuba over the weekend.
Hector Cisneros’ boat, Kaisosi, was found in part by a network of sailors who keep tabs on stolen vessels and use high-frequency radio and social media to keep in contact.
While officials including the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday they were still trying to verify the boat’s location, Cisneros said he has spoken with the Coast Guard.
“It’s in Cuba for sure, and the people who took it are in custody,” said Cisneros, 69, of Big Pine Key. He bought the $350,000 boat last August as he planned to retire.
“If it wasn’t for social media and the boating community in general, who knows what could have happened,” he said.
Cisneros doesn’t know what shape his boat is in but said thieves would have had to break a locked door to get inside.
He had anchored the boat between Picnic Island and the southern point of Little Torch Key in Newfound Harbor. It was reported stolen March 30.
The boat had a GPS system but it was not activated at the time, according to a Monroe Sheriff’s Office report.
The Seven Seas Cruising Association’s radio service KPK put out a be-on-the-lookout to vessels throughout the Bahamas, the Caribbean and Mexico, as well as through a sister station in Georgia.
The Guarda Frontera at Matanzas, Cuba, where the boat was found, arrested two people in connection with the theft on Saturday, according to KPK.
“A member of his Caribbean Navigator Facebook Group advised a vessel matching the description of the Kaisosi had tried to enter Marina Darsena Varadero, located on the north coast of Cuba at Varadero, Matanzas. The occupants of the vessel had no vessel papers or passports and were turned away,” according to KPK.
Cisneros, a general contractor, put his retirement plan on hold after Hurricane Irma in September.
“I stuck around because I wanted to help my customers,” he said.