Cuba and the Importance of the Men of the Sea – Hemingway Yacht Club Commodore Jose Escrich

, Cuba and the Importance of the Men of the Sea – Hemingway Yacht Club Commodore Jose Escrich

Cuba, and men of the sea who understand their history more than anyone, dreams of pristine water, unexplored reefs, friendly faces… The Commodore of the oldest – well, the ONLY – yacht club in Cuba, the Hemingway Yacht Club, says people forget that it it thanks to the harbors, the seamen, the ships, that are so important to the maritime heritage, that history is made.

With a mission of breaking the isolation that existed for 23 years, between Cuba and the US, Comodoro Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich of the Internacional Hemingway De Cuba Club Nautico – International Hemingway Yacht Club of Cuba – came to St. Augustine in 1996, and at the St. Augustine Yacht Club, he says he found his heart filled with love and friendship.

, Cuba and the Importance of the Men of the Sea – Hemingway Yacht Club Commodore Jose Escrich
Hearing Comodoro Escrich’s history philosophies expressed in his native tongue. 

This year, he visited again, to assist a granddaughter entering the University of Florida veterinary school. He began addressing the oldest yacht club in the United States; the St. Augustine Yacht Club, the first one to receive him.

, Cuba and the Importance of the Men of the Sea – Hemingway Yacht Club Commodore Jose Escrich

Speaking through an interpreter, who was not a professional interpreter, but augmented by several Spanish-speaking audience members; his dedication to the ocean, his love of the sailors, and his esteem for yachtsmen was clear. He said due to the history of the St. Augustine area, which several times he reminded us that Cubans had come and settled the area, “St. Augustine attracted me and St Augustine Yacht Club called me. “

, Cuba and the Importance of the Men of the Sea – Hemingway Yacht Club Commodore Jose Escrich

Escrich said St. Augustine was the first continental settlement in America, and it was settled by the first Spaniards from Cuba. He said, “I remember when I was here 22 years ago; the emotion I felt when I saw the historical part of the city…” he put his hands to his heart, demonstrating his deep emotional ties to our oldest city.

, Cuba and the Importance of the Men of the Sea – Hemingway Yacht Club Commodore Jose Escrich

“I was a Cuban naval officer. I retired with 20 plus years, but learned the importance of the seafaring history,” Escrich said. He continued with his statement of ocean-going philosophy. “I believe the men of the sea understand their history. More than anyone. And they love this country because they studied their history more than anyone,” Escrich said.

, Cuba and the Importance of the Men of the Sea – Hemingway Yacht Club Commodore Jose Escrich

“St. Augustine is an important piece of history for us,” Escrich said. “Tomorrow I am going to learn more. Today I loved it. Tomorrow I continue learning history.”

He spoke of another of his reasons for visiting the US, to coordinate three regattas next March and next year; St. Petersburg to Havana, in April Key West to Havana, and maybe Pensacola to Havana.

, Cuba and the Importance of the Men of the Sea – Hemingway Yacht Club Commodore Jose Escrich
The Cuban flag flying alongside the American flag and assorted SAYC pennants.

“All events are to celebrate the importance of Havana and the Spaniards who founded St. Augustine 500 years ago, and their yacht club,” Escrich said. “We want to celebrate with many nautical events.” Escrich said, “The connection makes my heart flutter, with the people of Cuba organizing the event.”

, Cuba and the Importance of the Men of the Sea – Hemingway Yacht Club Commodore Jose Escrich

Cuban maritime history is an interest of Escrich, and continuing US and Cuban ties is one of his passions. “People forget that it’s thanks to the huge harbor, the seamen, the ships so important to have the US and Cuban maritime present. We have one mission. To break the isolation that existed for 23 years,” he reiterated.

, Cuba and the Importance of the Men of the Sea – Hemingway Yacht Club Commodore Jose Escrich
Mayor Nancy Shaver presents the official Renewal of Ties from the St. Augustine Yacht Club to the Hemingway Yacht Club Commodore.

After accepting a renewal of ties from our own regatta-winning mayor, Nancy Shaver, along with several hearty hugs and plenty of smiles and handshakes, Escrich said, “I have gone through the world with a love of life, a love of the sea.” “Un amor de life! Un amor of the sea.”Although he was speaking in Spanish, and alternating with a bit of broken English, his message, his intent, his plan was clear in any language.

, Cuba and the Importance of the Men of the Sea – Hemingway Yacht Club Commodore Jose Escrich
Hope to see you again soon, Comodoro Escrich! 

Well, we did it! June, 2019 we visited. More articles coming!

Here’s a great article about his history with the Hemingway Yacht Club: ‘Socialist’ Havana Yacht Club Marks 25th Anniversary

Updated: June 18, 2019

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