The American Peter Crowley paddled his kayak out to sea from the Ernest Hemingway International Nautical Club, west of Havana, intent on crossing the Florida Straits.

On the crossing, Crowley, who has such poor eyesight that he is legally blind, is accompanied by his son Peter Jr. and a support vessel.

Before setting out Friday from the dock at the Havana club, Crowley, 56, told local media that he hopes his effort will be taken as "a message of peace, love and union between the peoples of Cuba and the United States."

In recent years, the adventure of crossing the Florida Straits has been a challenge that a number of athletes have longed to tackle, most of them long-distance swimmers including Diana Nyad, who in her fifth attempt achieved her goal after swimming 165.7 kilometers (110 miles) in 53 hours.

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