The Cayman Islands Cat Boat Club won a reprieve of sorts Friday when members of the Legislative Assembly learned the building it leases won’t be demolished.
Now it is up to club members to develop a plan to save the building.
Hurricane Ivan wrought severe damage to the building, which is next to the Lobster Pot on the waterfront in George Town; so much so that the Lands and Survey Department and the Public Works Department called for the demolition of the building.
They said it was dangerous and beyond repair.
But Cat Boat clubbers disagreed and made a public plea asking Government to spare the historic building.
The tendering process to hire a demolisher has been stopped and Cabinet has entered into a licensing agreement with clubbers to clear up the debris, secure the property from trespassers and use what remains of the property temporarily while detailed plans for the future of the building are formulated.
The club can either rebuild in the same location or move to another site.
Architectural plans to salvage the old building have already been drawn.
And it is at the waterfront site Cat Boat Club members want to remain.
Now for the rub; the club has only a 30-day renewable lease and it needs up to $200,000 to salvage the site.
Club members will have to come up with the money and they are seeking private funding.
It is essential that the Cayman Islands Cat Boat Club and its building survive.
The Cat Boat is a major part of the history of the Cayman Islands.
The Caymanian catboat was the mainstay in transportation in our Islands and also served as a pivotal means of employment.
The low-sheered vessels had an almost flamboyant form.
Fishermen ventured off shore hundreds of miles to hunt and fish turtle.
Catboats were used not only to get to the farther reaches of each district, but also to spread news from district to district.
Catboats were even used to deliver the mail. Catboats are sleek wooden vessels made with mostly local wood like mahogany, pine, cedar and pompero.
They came in varying sizes, depending on what they were used for. And each could be rigged with a sail.
When Catboats weren’t being used for providing food on the table or communication, their owners would join each other in friendly regattas, mainly in the North Sound.
Sadly the Cayman Catboat went the way of horse and buggy and party line telephones.
The Cayman Catboat is something that is unique to this country. To lose sight of the importance of the catboat would be a shame.
God speed to the Cayman Cat Boat Club members in their efforts to save the historic building where they meet and teach others about the old boats.