Elian Lopez hoped his life-changing journey would go smoothly – then the wind changed and the sun went down.
His harrowing ordeal in the deadly waters between Cuba and Florida highlights the risk record numbers of migrants are prepared to take to reach the US.
A Cuban fisherman who’s unsuccessfully attempted the trip on a makeshift raft seven times also told the BBC why he’ll do it again.
Filmed by Atahualpa Amerise in Miami and Alberto Moreno in Havana
Edited by Julia Galiano-Rios; produced by Alberto Lahens and Will Grant