CUBAN TRADER – A Memoir by Roger Asquith
THE CUBAN TRADER, Voyage on the Hellship – is my thrilling autobiographical account of an idealistic young man who sets out on the high seas for adventure and romance but instead, finds himself trapped aboard a merchant tanker ship commanded by a scheming and merciless captain, a former Nazi officer, and a crew of mostly innocent, randy young Germans who escaped from East Germany for a better life in the West, only to be trapped as prisoners on the ship, except for enthusiastic escapes to the dockside whorehouse in Cuba. It’s 1958, and fresh from the British RAF he signs as communications officer of the Cuban Trader, carrying hot molasses from the port of Santiago de Cuba to Philadelphia. His duties, aside from the occasional radio signal mostly amount to treating the rampant venereal disease among the young crew, the captain derisively calls “sex maniacs”, but little do they know that high in the mountains above the Cuban refinery, the rebels of Fidel Castro are about to sweep from the hills to overthrow Dictator Fulgencio Batista.
Making journeys to Cuba as the revolution grows ever more intense and dangerous, our reluctant hero finds himself navigating a series of dangerous adventures and narrow escapes as he must rescue his crewmates and the local girls of the refinery where he and his fellow ship mate, Richard “The Third” mate, the estranged son of a wealthy Hollywood producer seek refuge, only to find themselves entangled in the revolution. Arrested and held from ransom in a filthy rat-infested jail cell, witnessing the torture, gang rape, and eventual execution of fellow prisoners at the hands of the brutal security regime. Braving the dangers of political upheaval and the schemes of a merciless captain leading to murder, mutiny, and the biggest threat of all, the ship breaking up in the stormy Atlantic.