The US Coast Guard is warning the Mayor of Central Florida that his plans to row from Cuba to Key West, Florida in a makeshift raft could have "grave consequences".

The Mayor of DeBarry, Clint Johnson announced last month that he will make the solo trip in mid April. The US Coast Guard is urging him to reconsider.

Johnson says he was motivated to plan the raft trip to experience the adventure and “better understand” what Cuban refugees go through.

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But the US Coastguard says his trip will put “unnecessary risk on the lives of our Coast Guard men and women who respond to enforce U.S law and keep those at sea safe.”

“By definition, reports of handmade conveyances transporting migrants trigger a Coast Guard search and rescue case. Mayor Johnson’s trip will immediately trigger a Coast Guard search and rescue response, to most likely include the launch of fixed wing search aircraft, helicopters and ships. We respectfully urge the Mayor to reconsider his trip, which will best case result in a search for him. Worst case, his trip may result in grave consequences,” stated the US Coastguard.

It also warns that an undetermined number of Haitian and Cuban migrants have died at sea trying to reach the US.

Johnson posted the agency’s response to his plans on his personal blog, ‘Team Clint’.

He says he will cooperate with the Coast Guard “to ensure they are not put at physical risk or financial cost in the event of a failed journey. Their recent statement of concern regarding my plans was a righteous one that I do not take lightly”.

The Mayor, who describes himself on his Facebook page as an ‘Entrepreneur, Adventurer, Contrarian Thinker’, has already carried out an overnight sea trial in a test raft he built himself out of “some barrels, boards, and miscellaneous parts” from a local scrapyard.

Clint Johnson heads out for his overnight ocean raft sea trials

Clint Johnson heads out for overnight sea trials in his makeshift raft


On 2 April, Johnson posted on his Twitter account, “Ocean test run complete! Educational, enlightening, and an awesome experience. #Cuba next!”

He plans to build a similar raft once he arrives in Cuba for his journey back home to Florida.

Ahead of his trip, he will undertake “an intensive study of currents and water patterns as well as redesigning my raft with the new propulsion methods”.

Johnson will also take with him a personal locator beacon and another device which will send his location to his website and allow him to send out updates for his journey.