Sunrise clients help restore catboat


Two clients at Sunrise Adult Training Centre are getting lessons in Cayman catboats, a valuable mode of transportation for Caymanian people in earlier years.  

The two are working alongside Kem Jackson of the Cayman Catboat Club to restore Blue Nose, a catboat believed to have been built in 1922. ”The boys are a great help to me. They are on time every morning to help with the boat,” Mr. Jackson said. 

Sunrise clients Mark Ebanks and John White welcomed the opportunity to work with Mr. Jackson. 

“Working with catboats is fantastic and exciting,” said Mr. Ebanks. “Mr. Kem showed me how to drill holes and be careful not to poke holes inside the boat, that was good. He used the blowing machine to blow the dust away to make it clean and shiny to glue the seams on the boat.”

Mr. White is taking part because he loves catboats, he said. “I like to work with drills and having fun and do the best I can do,” he added.  

The lessons are part of a yearlong vocational training program in which clients are taught work readiness skills, said Suzzette Stewart, the center’s vocational coordinator.  

The Sunrise Adult Training Centre provides training, support and services for adults with disabilities. 

Rarely seen nowadays, catboats played an important part in the history of the Cayman Islands. The boats were largely built by fishermen for their own use, or by small, family-owned shipyards, and were made to suit the conditions in which they were to be used – mostly for offshore fishing, such as turtling, according to the Cayman Islands National Trust website. 

“Work on the boat is coming along nicely. Right now we are working on getting all the corking out of the boat,” Mr. Jackson said. “The boat will be refastened, covered with epoxy, the paint removed and when completed, the schooner will be put on display.”
Ms. Stewart noted that it was through Mr. Jackson helping the center build a cardboard boat that he approached the center to see if clients would be interested in taking part in the restoration. 

“Clients are not just placed on a job but shadowed by Sunrise staff to make sure they understand what is expected of them in terms of the practical skills, responsibilities, and to make sure learning is taking place and the relationship is being built,” she said. “At the end of the job experience, clients are evaluated by a supervisor.”  

There are 40 clients registered at Sunrise. About half are in full- or part-time work, according to the facility. 

The two are working alongside Kem Jackson of the Cayman Catboat Club to restore Blue Nose, a model of a catboat schooner built in 1922.  

sunrise with kem jackson6

Sunrise client John White learns from Kem Jackson how to drill holes in the catboat. Mark Ebanks uses the blower to remove the dust. – Photo: Jewel Levy