‘Captain Shelby’ dies at 89

Friends and family fondly remember maritime giant

A funeral service will be held Saturday for Captain Thomas Shelby Hydes, who died on Feb. 13 at the Cayman Islands Hospital. He was 89 years old.

He passed away after a lengthy bout with multiple illnesses, according to family members.

Born on June 7, 1928, in West Bay to Maggie and Fredson Hydes, Mr. Hydes grew up to be a prominent figure in the local maritime industry.

In the 1940s, he joined the M/V Addie H as a mess boy, eventually working his way up to captain. He later joined the Suwannee Steamship Company, and in 1959 became the captain of the M/V Kirk Trader.

He worked on many Kirk vessels until he switched positions and became an agent for Kirkconnell Shipping. He would later start his own shipping agency, Shelby’s Agency & Stevedoring Ltd. He also served as a board member of the Cayman Islands Port Authority for 15 years, and was a longtime member of the Cayman Islands Seafarers Association and the Church of God in West Bay.

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Friends and family remembered Mr. Hydes as a dedicated father and a strong, self-made man.

“One of my favorite memories is taking us to the dock and showing us how to tie up the ships,” said his daughter, Sharol Bush, adding that Mr. Hydes would take his family on car rides around Grand Cayman every Easter and Christmas, handing out apples and other food to families throughout the island.

One of his best friends, Captain Owen Farrington, recounted a memory he had on the seas with Mr. Hydes, where the two had a near brush with disaster.

According to Mr. Farrington, he and Mr. Hydes would regularly ship general cargo between Tampa and Cayman. One time, however, they were charged with carrying something outside of the definition of “general cargo” – they were asked to take a load of dynamite to Guatemala.

The two agreed to their assignment and set out for Guatemala with the dynamite on board. After a rainy night, Mr. Farrington said he woke up to alarms around 8:30 a.m.

The ship’s engine was on fire, which was caused by faulty wires running from its batteries to the starter.

Mr. Farrington said he raced from his cabin to the engine room, where he found two sailors quarrelling over where to dump a bucket of water.

“I said, ‘Hey, you can’t dump water down here!’” Mr. Farrington recalled. Luckily, he made it just in time to stop the sailors from using water, and instead used a large burlap sack to extinguish the flames. After that Mr. Hydes safely captained the ship to Guatemala without incident, he said.

Mr. Hydes is survived by his children, Shannon Hydes, Bendel Hydes, Everard Hydes, Sharol Bush, Shauna Haylock and Tristan Hydes; his sons-in-law, Mitchell Bush and Garett Haylock; his daughter-in-law, Yaremis Hydes; 18 grandchildren, Dove, Michaella, Elisha, Monique, Jessie, Matthew, Joshua, Dawit, Joseph, Jane, Israel, Felecia, Gabriel, Spaulin, Mennen, Misha, Isaac, and Zara; three great-grandchildren, Dreshaun, Destynee and Peter; seven nieces, Ezmie Smith, Reba Dilbert, Aileen Hurlstone, Vickie McDoom, Jennifer Ebanks, Charlotte Ebanks-Scarbrough and Ethel Ebanks; four nephews, Everard Leacock and family, Michael Dilbert, Aldridge Dilbert and Virgil Dilbert; as well as a number of other relatives.

His funeral service will be held on Saturday, March 3, at 2 p.m. at the Church of God in West Bay. Viewings will be from 12:30 p.m.

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