Museum makes plea for missing maritime trail signs

Signs highlight important maritime heritage locations.

Cayman has lost some of its Maritime Heritage Trail signs.

The signs, painted white and bordered in cobalt blue, sport the image of a schooner and read “Maritime Heritage Trail” with the location of the site.

Cayman Islands National Museum Director Peggy Leshikar-Denton said several of the signs have disappeared.

“If anyone has one of the maritime signs, they should repatriate it to the museum. It would be easier for us than to completely redo the signs,” she said.

In 2003, the Cayman Islands National Museum teamed up with the Department of Environment, the National Archive and the National Trust to develop and launch the Maritime Heritage Trail. Signs outlining points along the trail were placed on all three islands.

Made up of 36 archaeological maritime sites across Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, the Maritime Heritage Trail is a driving tour that takes heritage buffs to important maritime locales including lighthouses, shipwrecks and historic anchorages.

Hank Powell and daughters daughters Zahra, 11, and Shardaye, 7, helped repair the signs.
Hank Powell and daughters daughters Zahra, 11, and Shardaye, 7, helped repair the signs.

All of Grand Cayman’s 20 signs were either severely damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, riddled with bullet holes, stolen or simply rooted up, according to museum volunteer Hank Powell.

Mr. Powell, with his daughters Zahra, 11, and Shardaye, 7, are helping the museum repair, repaint and replace all the signs.

According to Mr. Powell, maritime signs have disappeared from a number of locations, including Barkers, Morgan’s Harbour, Public Beach, Lobster Pot, Newlands and Old Man Bay.

“People should also be aware of the [maritime] sign by the Elmslie Memorial Church when they are reversing because they are damaging that sign also,” he said.

Another maritime sign that is being targeted by vandals is the one on Harbour Drive by the museum, when the blue knobs at the top keep disappearing. “Every time I put a knob there, someone takes it off. I glued it down about four times and still people keep removing it,” he said.

Ms. Leshikar-Denton said, “Mr. Powell has been an ally of the museum since the early ‘90s. He has shown us important archeological sites on the island and has worked with the museum on rescue land that’s going to be developed, and he’s now coaching his young daughters, who seem delighted to take the signs and bring them back to life.”

She said that after Hurricane Ivan the museum had the signs redone in Caribbean cedar, but even those are showing their age and require refurbishing..

Mr. Powell said he suggested to the museum that inmates at Northward Prison could assist by remaking the signs.

“Out of the 20 sites on Grand Cayman, maybe 12 or more are still surviving, but the others will have to be remade, which we want to get done in this fiscal year,” Ms. Leshikar-Denton said.

She also said brochures that go along with the trail tour are available at the National Museum and National Trust. The museum is also looking into modernizing the information on the trail by going digital in the near future.

 

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