A high seas chase for a $1 million Red Sail Sports catamaran, stolen Sunday night, came to an end 150 miles south-west of Grand Cayman Monday evening with the arrest of a 46-year-old man.
Red Sail staff raised the alarm that the 65-foot vessel was gone when they arrived for work in front of the Westin Casuarina Resort, where the boat was moored, Monday morning.
An aerial search located the boat at about 1.30pm Monday, leading to a 10-hour boat pursuit by the joint Customs and RCIPS Marine Unit.
‘They’ve got the vessel and they’ve got the guy – hopefully well and truly in handcuffs,’ said a relieved Rod McDowall, operations manager for Red Sail Sports.
Mr. McDowall said it appeared the man had the Spirit of Calypso headed for Honduras.
‘He’s clearly got pretty good maritime skills, which hopefully he won’t be using for a good while now,’ Mr. McDowall said.
‘For one guy to take a sail boat like this … and get everything up on a boat of that size … I guess you’ve got to give him a little bit of credit there,’ he said.
The boat was last seen at about 6pm Sunday evening, when the vessel was left on a permanent mooring, about 900 feet in front of the resort.
When the boat was discovered missing the next morning, Red Sail chartered a helicopter and two planes to search for the boat. One of the charter planes located the vessel Monday at around 1.30pm, relaying the boat’s GPS coordinates to the RCIPS, which commenced the pursuit.
Head of the Marine Unit, Brad Ebanks, said the operation was very much a joint operation between the Marine Unit and Red Sail Sports.
‘I am very proud of the Cayman Protector team for their swift actions in assisting the local company to recover the stolen vessel. I am also very impressed with the actions taken by Red Sail staff. They provided invaluable assistance which expedited our departure and the subsequent arrest of the suspect,’ he said.
Asked whether it would have been possible for the suspected thief to pull off the heist, Mr. McDowall said large Red Sail logos on the sail and hull of the vessel made it a hard boat to hide.
‘But they could chop the mast off and turn it into a motor sailor,’ he said. ‘They could repaint it and next thing you know it would be very difficult to locate.’
Mr. McDowall said this latest incident was the most audacious in a series of break-in’s and thefts of tour operators in the past few months.
‘We’ve been hit five or six times recently with the theft of equipment and alcohol,’ he explained.
‘The community here has always been very respectful of boats and vessels simply because of their sea-going background, but there is a bit of a problem there right now.
‘Hopefully with this one caught, it will be one less that is causing these problems,’ he said.