50 years ago: Fishing trip a (happy) misadventure

Cayman-brac--50-years-finalIn the July 13, 1966 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, Cayman Brac correspondent Lilian Ritch wrote:

“Friday night of the 8th was a harrowing one for the families of Keith Tibbetts, Arlen Reid and Mrs. Mavis Brown. Parker Tibbetts, his younger brother Nat, Derbyn Brown and Melgreen Reid went in Parker’s motor boat to Little Cayman for whelks and conchs early in the morning.

“A check with Mr. John Thrash of Southern Cross Club accounted for their leaving South Town at 5:30 p.m. The boys did not return.

“After anxiously waiting, Mr. Tibbetts and Mr. Reid set out to look for them but after getting about two thirds of the way across the bogue in heavy squall, they turned back.

“Waiting at the Watering Place was Mr. Bob Benefield, contractor for Mr. Dantzler’s home, who volunteered to go out in his boat. He, accompanied by Messrs. Roy Tibbetts and Bentley Brown set out at midnight from Stake Bay. Simultaneously, from Watering Place Mr. Vilbert Pouchie in his motor launch Amanda, taking with him Messrs. Marvin Ryan, Hallon Dilbert and Garland Jackson, set out for Little Cayman.

“At the shop at Watering Place the set was open from early evening hoping for news and at the airport similarly, while the District Commissioner, Mr. Dennis Foster, his brother, Trevor and other friends stood by to do what ever they could. At the airport all waited anxiously from midnight, trying to contact Southern Cross and the U.S. Coast Guard. At 3:30 a.m. there a was a call from Southern Cross. The two launches had reached South Town but had seen no trace of the boys.

“At around 6 Saturday morning, Mr. Benefield’s launch had left to come up on the South Side, the Caymaniac was fueled and ready to set out to search and the Amanda was getting ready to leave to come up on the North Side, but before doing so she started up inside for a last look.

“Just above the Cay, they saw the four boys floating on logs, and took them up out of the water.

“The boys told them that on reaching towards the end of the island, they found the current too strong and knew they could not make it and their gas was insufficient to cross the bogue – so turning back, they went over the reef in their boat came down inside until the water passage was impassable then walked about 6 miles down towards the club. Darkness prevented them going further so they slept until daylight. Coming to this bight they decided the only thing they could do was to swim across. They saw the lights at Cayman Brac airport and also the searchlights of the two boats looking for them by could not reply not having even a match on them.

“The Caymaniac brought up the three youngest and at about 11 a.m. Parker with his Uncle Hallan came up in his boat and the Amanda arrived with them. The boys seemed none the worse for their experience – perhaps a little Scoutcraft would help next time! Best of all they brought in and did a brisk trade with their conchs and whleks.”