50 years ago: Life saved by air-sea rescue

This week in Cayman

In the Nov. 15, 1967 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, the following story appeared on the front page:

“Our voluntary local air-sea rescue service went into operation on Monday last as a result of which Armand Dilbert was rescued from the sea after a mishap on a fishing trip.

“Dilbert left the Beach Club alone on a boat at about 1 p.m. and when he had not returned at 4 p.m., Mrs. Hatch informed Bob Soto who sent his Boston Whaler and two men aboard to start a search. Soto was then contacted by the Chief of Police who also asked Cayman Brac Airways DC-3 to join in the search. Soon the ‘Cayman Pilot’ went out and three miles from shore they found Dilbert’s boat. Returning to the Beach Club and finding that Armand had not swum ashore as anticipated, they decided to go out again.

“Cayman Brac Airways went up a second time. This was about 6 p.m. when there was only about half an hour of daylight left. The ‘Cayman Pilot’ steered a northwest course and about one mile from shore, what appeared to be a coconut bobbing up and down was spotted in the water. This proved to be Dilbert. Attlee Bodden jumped overboard and held Dilbert while a rope was thrown and they were pulled onto the boat. Dilbert was quite exhausted and was wrapped in a blanket and given hot sugar water which revived him a little.

“Bob then signalled to Cayman Brac Airways with his searchlight and thus the Chief of Police was able to get back to the dock to be ready to convey Dilbert to hospital. Fortunately, he was discharged the next morning.

“It is reported that the engine failed and Dilbert thought he could make it to the shore so he abandoned the boat and began to swim, but the distance was too much for him.”

In the same edition, a story titled “The 1967-68 tourist season off to a flying start” also appeared on the front page. It read:

“Our tourist season was certainly ‘off to a flying start’ with the arrival of the first group from Vancouver to stay at La Fontaine Hotel, and the Airventurers from Indiana who spent the weekend at the Coral Caymanian Hotel. Two calypso bands and a host of residents were at the airport bright and early to give them a welcome.

“Within 10 minutes of arrival at their hotel, many of the visitors were in the sea, despite the northeast wind which local residents found very cool. It was unfortunate that Monday and Tuesday were wet days, which was rather a dampener for the weekenders.

“Cocktail parties and dances were enjoyed on Saturday night and the ‘Cayman Pilot’ took a full load for a trip on Sunday morning.

“By courtesy of Pacific Western Airlines, a special flight was arranged on Monday afternoon for members of the public, the press, Tourist Board, Chamber of Commerce representatives, etc., to take a trip over the three islands in the 707.

“Despite poor visibility, this was a wonderful experience which was greatly enjoyed and much appreciated by all who had the privilege of going aboard this beautiful aircraft.”

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