Fisherman reels in treasure, adventure

A coconut ‘American football’, which touched down in Cayman all the way from Jamaica, is the latest treasure to be found by fisherman Olson Levy.

Known to family and friends as ‘Ocean’, he found the coconut washed up on the beach in Frank Sound at the weekend.

He has added it to his collection of other ocean-borne finds, which includes money and letters in a bottle.

‘The coconut must have drifted across all the way from Jamaica and ended up on the shore here,’ said Olson, who lives in Midland Acres but is originally from Bodden Town.

The coconut, which has been painted with the logo of the American Football team, The Pittsburg Steelers, is also inscribed with the words Jamaica 2007.

‘I once found 10 letters written in Spanish and Portuguese,’ Olson said. ‘Someone translated them and said they were love letters from a guy to his girlfriend.’

Olson has even found cash at sea, including a US dollar bill in with the love letters and another five dollar Caymanian note, which he found floating in the water beside his fishing boat around three miles out from the Morritt’s Tortuga Club in East End.

As a permanent keepsake, Olson has had the Caymanian bill laminated, but the US dollar is still in the original bottle, which he enjoys showing to friends.

‘The bottle is covered in barnacles, which means it must have been in the water for a good while,’ he said.

Olson is mystified by the large number of right-footed slippers which he also nets regularly.

‘I always find one foot of new slippers but never the other – I have picked up at least 40 right-footed ones but can never find the left, which is very strange,’ he said.

Rescue at sea

On a more serious note, Olsen has also found fishermen drifting out at sea, including two men off East End in 2000, when he and his uncle, Thomas Wood, saved their lives.

‘We were out fishing and there was a nor’wester coming and it was blowing 20 to 25 miles an hour from the north,’ Olson recalled. ‘We left out of Frank Sound, and about half an hour out there, I said to my uncle ‘we are not the only two fools out here’ – I saw an object two miles out. When we reached there, we found two guys from East End whose engine had broken down and they only had one paddle. They were paddling one stroke forward and five backwards; that is how fast they were drifting.

‘So, we hooked up, towed them for about an hour until we saw a dive boat coming out of the channel from Bob Soto’s Dive Lodge, which we hailed and asked if they could take these guys across the reef because the wind had picked up and the sea was at least nine or 10 feet on the reef.

‘I cut my anchor and gave them my piece of rope to tow them in. It was getting worse so we decided to come back to Frank Sound and go home. We started off, slowly trawling for wahoo when my engine quit. No spare, no phone and it is blowing 35 miles an hour from the north. We had just saved two guys’ lives but there was nobody to save us as all the boats had gone in.’

Their boat drifted for five miles while Olson worked on the engine, finally finding water in the carburetor. It started but kept shutting off and, when they decided to throw the anchor overboard in shallower water to try to stop from drifting, they discovered they had forgotten to tie it on after rescuing the other fishermen.

The engine quit again and they drifted back out to sea as the wind began picking up to 40mph.

‘We had another anchor but it was short and could barely hit the bottom,’ said Olson. ‘Finally the anchor hooked, but it hooked on the edge of the drop-off, so we were swinging over the ocean and I knew it wouldn’t last long.’

Olson finally got the engine repaired but he decided to try and take a chance and ride the waves to get over the reef and back into safe waters.

‘We picked up as much speed as possible and rode in with a wave over the dry reef,’ said Olson.

Ocean, who fishes for wahoo, tuna, snapper, marlin, grunts and ‘just about everything else that swims’, can be found selling his catch at the Saturday farmers’ market, where he is always happy to share some of his fishing tales, including the time his father’s pants were torn off by a shark and the night a ‘duppy’ nearly towed his boat under the water near Pedro St. James.

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