Most of the boat owners at SafeHaven moved their vessels over the weekend, but eight boats still remained at the site by the eviction deadline of Monday morning.
Six Kelly Watersports boats and two Captain Frank’s boats were still moored at SafeHaven, at the entrance of which a large wooden gate has been erected. The gate was still open on Monday morning, with heavy machinery parked nearby.
Dave Kelly of Kelly’s Watersports said he intended to keep his boats at the site as the arrangements at the interim site were unsatisfactory and he did not believe developer Michael Ryan had a right to kick the boat operators off the SafeHaven site.
“I don’t want to move. There’s nothing in place for us to move to. Everything seems to be a really bad deal again for us down here,” he said. “Deep down, we really believe there’s something wrong with what is going on here, but we’re not getting any support from government.”
Developer Michael Ryan gave the boat operators notice to vacate the site earlier this month to make way for construction of a new Port Authority Marina. The site the boat operators were occupying will be demolished and excavated and the fill will be used to build the new marina.
Mr. Ryan erected a notice at the entrance of the site earlier this month, giving boat operators occupying SafeHaven until 13 August to vacate. That deadline was extended by a week so that a licence could be drawn up which gives the operators permission to remain at the two designated interim sites until the new marina is completed.
The SafeHaven site, which was previously Crown land vested to the Port Authority, was transferred to Mr. Ryan as part of a land swap deal under which he undertook to build and pay for a new Port Authority Marina.
Mr. Kelly said the boat operators felt they were fighting an uphill battle to stay on the site on which many of them had been mooring their boats for years. “We’re a bit like mosquitos trying to tell an elephant, don’t move or we will crush you,” he said, adding that the interim site to which the boat operators had been directed were muddy and were not proper docks.
“We cater to all the cruise ship passengers. What kind of picture are they going to see when they look at the sloppy operation that’s been put in place for us? We get repeat customers and thousands of cruise ship passengers go to Stingray City from here,” he said.
Captain Frank Ebanks, whose boats also remained at the site, is currently off island.
The boat operators who oppose the move have hired a lawyer to represent them. “We have retained a QC and we’re going to take legal action,” said Captain Bryan Ebanks, who has been spearheading the opposition to the move from SafeHaven.
Captain Bryan, who moved his boat to one of the interim sites over the weekend, said he had not signed any agreement to move. “I’ve moved my boat, but I haven’t vacated the site. I haven’t signed anything. I’ve left all my equipment and stuff there [at SafeHaven],” he said. However, other operators said they were pleased with the new arrangement and were awaiting the first cruise ship passengers due to arrive at the interim sites late Monday morning to go on trips to Stingray City and the Sandbar.
Shaun Ebanks, vice chairman of the Caymanian Land and Sea Co-op, who has been working with Mr. Ryan to prepare the interim site, said a letter of permission had been received from Mr. Ryan and several boat owners had signed their license of occupancy and been assigned to their new mooring space.
“I think this site is much better than the old one,” he said.