Smartphones and mobile internet making it easier for Cuban rafters to reach U.S.

Recently intercepted Cuban balseros

From our Bureau of Great Technological Advances That Aid Those Wishing to Flee from Socialist Latrine American Totalitarian Hellholes

Ever wonder how so many Cubans are zipping their way across the Florida Straits so fast and landing in the Keys or South Florida?

The number of those who have made is astounding, and the number of those being sent right back to hell is very depressing.

Well . . . stop wondering. This new generation of rafters is using technology that wasn’t available to their predecessors. Ninety miles is not what it used to be. Not at all. Reaching Florida on a surfboard or a “rustic vessel” is now as easy as driving from Guilford, Connecticut to New York City on I-95, thanks to new technology now available to some Cubans.

Too bad the technological advances have not been matched by political and economic ones at the Cuban end. Aaah, but hell is hell, after all. Hell is what it is, principally a place from which everyone longs to escape.

Abridged from Rest of the World

Last summer, Pablo Mantilla Masa, 34, set out to sea on a kite surfboard, armed with a smartphone loaded with OsmAnd, a maps and navigation app. It provides free nautical charts, with which he trained for months, tracking his speed along the coast of his native Cuba’s Varadero beach . . .

. . . Balseros face numerous challenges, starting with the difficulty of navigating the makeshift rafts on which they take to the sea. They must maneuver through shifting currents, choppy waters, and the looming threat of shark attacks. It all adds up to a heavy physical and psychological toll as they attempt to cross the roughly 145-kilometer stretch between Cuba and the southern tip of Florida.

Smartphones and mobile internet access have altered the way Cuba’s balseros prepare for and undertake their journeys. The newest generation — “balseros 3.0” — are using digital devices, free and user-friendly navigation apps, as well as newly available e-commerce services to procure their (sometimes regulated) equipment.

“If I’d ventured out only with a compass like we did before, on seeing the waves coming at me from every direction, the sun right above me in the sky, I would’ve second-guessed the compass,” said Mantilla, who arrived in Key West with the help of a navigation app in about six and a half hours. He now works as a kitesurf instructor in Key Biscayne. “I would have made it because I was traveling in the right direction but it would have been much more stressful,” he said.

Mantilla’s journey from Cuba to southern Florida on the OsmAnd app. Maritime navigation apps, like OsmAnd and Navionics Boating, were initially created for those who dabble in recreational fishing and sailing. Both work on Android and iOS devices, and operate using OpenStreetMap, a collaborative database updated in real time by mappers worldwide to help other users identify diving, fishing, and snorkeling spots. The apps allow users to drop markers on the map to plan potential routes in advance, and to prevent collisions among sailors and larger vessels in busy shipping routes.

Whole story HERE