March 24, 2005


They tried sailing a Chevy, then they gave the Buick a go (Tim Reid, 3/25/05, Times of London)

SOME Cubans are so desperate to cross the Florida Straits for a new life in America that they have attempted the journey on surfboards, in bathtubs and even in converted refrigerators.

But none has been as determined, or as ingenious, as Luis Grass.

Señor Grass, 30, whose two previous attempts to make the voyage in propeller-driven vintage cars ended in glorious, headline-grabbing failure, has finally arrived in the United States with his family after his third try.

This time he came overland — an epic, 24-day, 1,140-mile journey.

“Trying to cross the Florida Straits on my floating cars was easier, I can tell you that,” a beaming Señor Grass said in Miami at the end of a journey that took him, his wife and five-year-old son through snake- infested forests and out of sight of hostile border guards in six countries.

Señor Grass and his long- suffering wife, Isora, 27 — he thanked her for going along with his “crazy schemes” — carried their son Angel Luis from San José, Costa Rica, where their journey began on February 16, through Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, making their way on foot, by hitchhiking, and in taxis and buses, to the US. [...]

The US Coast Guard are still marvelling at his two attempted crossings in 2003 and last year, when he twice got to within 40 miles of the Florida coast before being intercepted. His first voyage was in a converted 1951 Chevrolet, and the second on a floating 1959 Buick.

At his press conference in Miami this week, Señor Grass, a mechanic, said his Chevrolet wagon, which he had placed on 55 metal drums before loading it with nine friends and his family, was his greatest creation. In addition to attracting international headlines it triggered an hilarious exchange between Cuban security guards in Havana and their superiors.

When the Cuban guards saw the 1951 Chevy hit the water running, and then begin sailing out to sea, they radioed headquarters to report that “a truck was headed to Miami”.

According to Señor Grass, they were reprimanded and told to stop drinking while on patrol.

The wet foot/dry foot policy is an abomination, but it was especially unAmerican when they sent him home after he crafted those ingenious boats. We're a better nation with him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 24, 2005 8:43 PM

He deserves to be here more than most immigrants. This country was made for people like him and I predict he will flourish. After he sells his book and movie rights, he will be wealthier than me, and deservedly so.

Posted by: Pat H at March 24, 2005 9:37 PM

I'm glad he finally made it.

Posted by: jd watson at March 24, 2005 11:50 PM

Either DARPA or DOD better hire Luis Grass very fast, before the private sector gets to him.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at March 25, 2005 12:09 AM

General Motors could use a man like that. He could probably sell more Buicks than Tiger Woods.

Posted by: AllenS at March 25, 2005 5:09 AM

How the Left must hate him! "He drove a gas-guzzling SUV through the fragile Caribbean ecosystem, leaving universal health care and universal literacy behind . . . ."

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 25, 2005 1:02 PM