Officials said three migrants left Cuba to windsurf across the Florida Straits. But only one completed the journey, reaching Key West after a 9 ½-hour journey.
Henry Hugo Vergara Negrin, 24, told police he lost sight of the other two approximately 60 miles south of Key West. He said they left Jibacoa, Cuba, on Tuesday morning.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported it is searching areas along the Key West shoreline in case they reached shore elsewhere. The agency dispatched two Coast Guard cutter boats along with a twin-engine HC-144 Ocean Sentry search plane to search the Florida Straits.
Negrin said the other two men were known as Amando and Dwarta, but he reportedly did not know or did not provide their last names.
"We're saturating the search area," Coast Guard Sector Key West spokesman Ensign Peter Bermont told the Florida Key News. "He said he lost sight of them approximately 60 nautical miles south of Key West. Part of our search pattern includes following the Gulf Stream drift pattern as well as following the route of the one we know made it ashore."
Negrin reached the private beach outside of "The Reach," a Waldorf Astoria Resort.
Police and onlookers said he was exhausted, shivering and had blistered hands when he arrived at the Florida beach. He was treated at Lower Keys Medical Center, taken into custody by U.S. Custom and Border Protection agents and eventually released.
"He was very cold, shivering," Reach Resort manager Bilal Merjan. "He didn't speak very much, but he was treated very well."
While not as popular as makeshift rafts for fleeing Cuba, this is not the first attempt a Cuban immigrant has made to windsurf between the two countries. A number of news agencies reported that in 1994, six Cuban migrants made the dangerous 90-mile crossing by windsurfing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.