Yacht parts stuck on reef

Windy weather making removal tough

Environmental clean up crews said Tuesday that rough weather was making it impossible to determine the extent of any damage caused to the surrounding reefs or the North Sound’s Sandbar from a fuel leak during a large boat wreck.  

Part of the stern and a section of the hull belonging to a wrecked 72-foot motor cruiser that crashed into the North Sound reef last week remained stuck on the reef Tuesday and marine unit crews said they’d have to wait for windy weather to subside before getting to the rest of the wreckage.  

“It’s just too rough out there right now, the wind’s at 18 to 19 knots,” said Mark Orr, chief enforcement officer of the Department of Environment. “But we’ve gotten most of the parts from the ship picked up. The majority of the wreck has been removed.”  

Mr. Orr said two fuel tanks had been recovered from the vessel, which was sailing from south Florida and planned to make it all the way to Australia. Another four fuel tanks washed up over the weekend in the Camana Bay and Yacht Club area. 

A private contractor was brought in to try and pump out the fuel from the craft and clean up the rest of the fuel as best possible.  

“The Harbour House [Marina] crew was only able to salvage about 10 per cent of the fuel because of the inclement weather,” according to a statement from police.  

There was some fuel leakage from the tanks, Mr. Orr said, although police said there was “no evidence” of fuel leakage into the North Sound. The rough weather may have been a blessing in disguise, Mr. Orr said.  

“The rough weather caused the fuel to [dissipate] quickly,” he said. “It never did form a thick oil slick, just a light sheen [on the water].”  

However, the Department of Environment would be performing an assessment of both the North Sound reef and also the Sandbar to determine whether there had been any damage from the fuel.  

The Sandbar in Grand Cayman’s North Sound – a popular site with both visitors and residents – was closed for the entire weekend as debris from the crash was cleaned up.  

The 72-feet-long yacht – ‘Plight’ – was carrying about 2,000 gallons of fuel when it crashed into the barrier reef Thursday night around 11pm.  

Two men on board, ages 35 and 38, both from New South Wales, Australia, were rescued from the water where they were floating in the craft’s 15-foot life boat. According to the ship’s captain, the men were travelling from Miami to Cuba and then on to the Panama Canal.  

“The captain of the vessel decided to stop in the Cayman due to an approaching Nor’easter,” said Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Chief Inspector Raymond Christian.  

Both men were booked into a local hotel and police said there were no breaches of the law detected in the incident. 

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7 COMMENTS

  1. of course a fuel leak damaged corals. Corals are super sensitive to ANY water changes. And once they die, they don’t come back, until many many decades later, if at all.

    when was the last time you as a snorkeler or diver, saw a bleeched brain coral come back from the brain coral fungus (those big yellow brainy looking rocks, that are covered with white fluff). That is only done by a fungus that isn’t nearly as harsh as a chemical spill.

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  2. A two man crew for such a voyage? This should be a crime! With today’s gps systems, there’s no excuse for this. They must have been asleep, can’t have proper watches with a 2 man crew. We’re they tested for drinks?

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  3. So many mistakes made by these men that it is truly sad and regrettable. It was late and dark and they wanted to get inside the reef and escape the weather. They were probably tired and fatigued that contributed to their mistaken judgment.

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  4. Are you guys serious? For anyone thats tried or come through the North Sound Channel would agree, the markers are totally ineffective. It is not marked well showing where the channel is. The Government needs to assess all markers in the sound cause it’s just a nightmare trying to navigate around the place. Unless you live on the North Sound, and you are out there every day 24/7 and you get to know your way around the canals and stuff it’s difficult to know where they are even with GPS!

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  5. yep, that was an accident waiting to happen.

    I could just imagine what those guys went through.. rough seas, high winds and markers that are dimly lit assuming that they were even there…. and their GPS showing an opening that is actually reef… then hitting the reef and destroying a 200k yacht.

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  6. Again I’ll ask crisscross. Do you know anything about entering the Cayman Islands by ship? Had the captain contacted port security on VHF 16 (as they were required to do) they would have been told not to enter the channel and instead proceed to GT. Instead, the Captain (unfamiliar with the waterway) attempted to pass through a channel narrower than the length of his boat in the dark. You want to blame this on makers? I would blame this on an inexperienced captain taking a huge risk. Further, and evidence of how little you know, you should never enter through those channels in rough seas. Period.

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