Support for a designated hurricane shelter for boats is growing among Caymanian boat owners, although the location of that shelter is still being debated.
The two options being considered for the “hurricane hole” are at Barkers in West Bay and Salt Creek.
West Bay MLA Captain Eugene Ebanks first publicly revealed the Barkers option at a public meeting to discuss a wide-ranging deal between development company Dart and the Cayman Islands government earlier this month.
Dart owns land in the vicinity of both sites and Captain Eugene subsequently said he was in talks with the company about turning one of the sites into a shelter.
Captain Bryan Ebanks, who opposes the prospect of a hurricane shelter or a marina at Barkers, is calling on the government and Governor Duncan Taylor to designate about 70 acres of crown land at Salt Creek as a hurricane shelter.
In a letter to the governor, members of Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly, signed by 33 local boat owners, he wrote Salt Creek had been used for generations by boat operators to shelter and dock their boats.
The site he and the other signatories are asking to be designated as the hurricane shelter is north of Dart’s housing development and he said the site would be sufficiently removed from the development and be separated from it by mangrove buffers.
They are calling on government to negotiate with Dart to underwrite the cost of excavating the site and construct a marl-covered parking area around the perimeter of the hurricane hole; provide access by construction a roadway across the Dart land to the proposed main public road; and use any excess marl from the excavation of the site to be offered for sale or to reduce the cost of constructing the proposed extension of public roads leading to West Bay.
“Realising the financial constraints within the country at this time, boat owners would each be responsible for construction of individual docking areas within the hurricane hole/boat shelter; like our forefathers, we would like to maintain the tradition of ‘pay as you go’,” Bryan Ebanks wrote in the letter.
Although Salt Creek seems the favoured option among boat owners, many also consider Barkers a viable option.
At a meeting of about 20 boat owners last week, all agreed that a hurricane shelter for their boats was vital and most agreed a shelter at Barkers was acceptable, if it was not possible to get the Salt Creek site.
Shaun Ebanks, deputy chairman of Caymanian Land and Sea Cooperative, who called the meetings, said the majority of boat owners were not opposed to creating a hurricane shelter in Barkers. Another smaller group of boat owners, at a meeting called by Bryan Ebanks the week before had said the Barkers site was unsuitable and a potentially dangerous location for their boats in a storm.
Shaun Ebanks said that as well as a hurricane shelter, the boat owners also needed a mini marina where they could dock their boats, in the event that Safehaven, where many of them currently dock, is no longer available to them due to future redevelopment.
Another boat owner, Charles Ebanks said: “If we cannot get Salt Creek, then Barkers is the next best choice.” Other said they supported Barkers “100 per cent”.
Captain Eugene confirmed to the Caymanian Compass that as well as discussing an option of creating a hurricane shelter with Dart, a marina was also being considered.
Other boat owners said they had initially opposed the Barkers site as a possible hurricane shelter because they had been “misinformed” that the shelter would be at the northern tip of Barkers, when it would be created further south, if the plan goes ahead.