Captains chime in on proposal
An article that appeared recently in the Caymanian Compass touched off a firestorm of discussion regarding a berthing facility being proposed in South Sound and whether several captains who support such an undertaking also support the Emerald Sound Development.
Captain Paul Hurlstone said he does support the Emerald Sound Development on the land side, but not the coastal works, which call for a canal to be dredged across the road and are still pending approval. He said this had nothing to do with his support for the port being built in South Sound.
“That is where the port facility should be,” Captain Hurlstone said. “That is what I have been saying from 2004, when we made a proposal to the government at the time. That plan has been there for seven years and no one came along to support it but now they are picking it up when this Emerald Sound development is on the way, that concerns me about their motives for supporting the port. Never the less that is the place for it.”
Captain Brian Ebanks said he did not have enough information about the Emerald Sound development to make a comment on it for good or bad, as that was not his cause. He said for him, it is about making a case to have a berthing facility built in South Sound, in order for the tourism market to be able to compete in the region and to maximise the number of days ships could visit Grand Cayman. Captain Brian said there needs to be a highway running from the port to the Linford Pierson Highway, along the shortest line to that point. “Whether that will end up passing through Emerald Sound land, I don’t know and that is not the concern for me,” he said. “What I am interested in and hope to see is a highway that leads on to Linford Pierson Highway from the berthing facility in order that all parts of Grand Cayman have an equal opportunity to attract those people. That would assist in making a go East initiative feasible.”
Captain Brian said one more reason he was against a berthing facility being built in George Town was the infrastructure there would have to change drastically to support 15,000 tourists walking around.
“We need access to a safe harbour, Jamaica has two or three, Honduras is ahead of us and Cuba is about to open up. We have got to get this right. We cannot afford to spend this kind of money in the wrong place. No building boom is coming again unless there is another serious hurricane. We are in the business of tourism and we have a permanent interest in that regard,” Captain Brian said. The plans for the berthing facility being proposed in South Sound call for a channel to be cut in the reef to allow cruise ships and mega yachts to come in to what Caymanians call “Red Bay” – (for the red pigment that bleeds off the mangroves in that area periodically). One thousand feet off shore at all points around and roughly 360 degrees, the facility would then be dredged to 40 feet in its middle. The outer perimeter would remain in 6 feet of water all around, allowing for buses to traverse the facility, alleviating any concern about over congestion of George Town. An artificial beach might also be built on the side of the port facing land, as there would be 6 feet of water for 1,000 feet between the facility and shore. Additionally, the fill that could be collected from the dredging could raise some $200 million, while bringing down the cost of building as a result of directly impacting Cayman’s aggregate shortage. Captain Brian said it was important for people to not lose sight of the benefits of such a project being built in South Sound, as successive captains have endorsed this as being the best place for a berthing facility to be built.
“Businessmen will do as they please in their efforts but that does not change the fact that the berthing facility needs to go in South Sound. We need to do that for ourselves,” Captain Brian said.