50 years ago: Launch of the Trial a cause for excitement

In the Jan. 11, 1967 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, news from the Brac included a colorful account of the launch of a new vessel:

“The Motor Vessel Trial, the British flag flying proudly at her stern, rested on the shoal beach before noon. Gleaming white with a green band and copper-painted bottom she was beautiful in the sunshine.

“A vessel launch is a national affair in Cayman Brac. The whole island was there on Tuesday – it was a day of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Age baked in the sunlight of ‘auld acquaintance.’ Thrilling to the invigorating atmosphere they tumbled stories of other launches, of the stern life of sailing vessels, of the coming of the forefathers – history came alive.

“What able-bodied men were not attending the vessel were on the rope, manning the pull, giving the lead to the women, boys and girls in a long line, hauling away. Camera enthusiasts skipped over the rocks recording the story in colour to tell the world and posterity. Month-old babies cooed and smiled with contentment lying across grand- and great-grandmothers’ knees, as though they were pleased with it all. The day is a story in itself.

“In May of 1965, Capt. Keith Tibbetts tells us, he made a model of the type of craft which in his experience of turtle fishing would suit the trade for Cayman Brac. He had the conviction that the time had come for the island to have such a vessel. By October of that year he had gathered information and materials to make a proper start. Working on her off and on himself and persevering with only two or three men at a time he would not yield to discouragements, being confident that he would complete her and start the work for which she is designed. He has named her Trial, with an understanding and confidence.

“Built different from any other vessel ever constructed on the island in many ways, Capt. Keith says he has only kept to the conventional pattern of building the most durable and seaworthy craft possible, maintaining island tradition in the industry.

“The Trial is 56 feet long, 16 feet wide and 6 feet deep with a main draft of 4 feet and carrying capacity of about 45 tons. She will be registered in the Cayman Islands.

“Capt. Keith Tibbetts, after completing the launch with a trip to the Creek, returned heartfelt thanks over the mike at 5 minutes to 4 p.m.”

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