Jolly Roger runs aground for second time in month

Cayman’s iconic pirate-themed ship The Jolly Roger ran aground in George Town harbor amid rough seas Tuesday for the second time in a month.

The Jolly Roger was leaning precariously on its side and taking on seawater near the Lobster Pot public dock, after breaking free from its moorings. A similar incident occurred on Sept. 10.

The ship had been moored in front of North Church Street, near Rackam’s Waterfront Bar & Grill.

Speaking with the Cayman Compass Tuesday, crewmember Ryan Elle said he was notified of the incident by 911 around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

No crew or passengers were on board when the ship ran aground, and no injuries were reported.

“We are still investigating what happened,” said Mr. Elle by phone. “The previous one [incident], someone was on board overnight and there was tampering on the last one. I am not entirely clear what happened this time.”

He said there were brand-new lines on the ship and that it was attended until 2 p.m. Monday, after which time he does not know what happened.

“Right now, it’s sitting on its side, so it will take a bit more effort to get it going,” he said, adding that the ship was taking on water. He said it had not yet been ascertained how much damage the ship had suffered in the grounding. “We have a team coming out to evaluate and take a look at her,” he added.

The Jolly Roger lies almost on its side on the hardpan in George Town harbor Tuesday morning. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

He said the ship was insured and he was hopeful it would be back in the water in time for the Nov. 8-12 Pirates Week festivities.

Port Authority Deputy Director Willem Jacobs confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that the listing ship was no danger to other ships.

“It was rough weather that actually caused the mooring lines to break in the middle of the night,” Mr. Jacobs said.

He said a private team was working to get the ship off of its side as quickly as possible.

He added that the rough seas had caused the Port Authority to close the harbor Tuesday. He said two cargo vessels were sitting near the coast off North Side, waiting to see if the weather cleared. Four cruise ships that had been scheduled to stop in Cayman on Monday and Tuesday bypassed the island because of the sea conditions.

Following last month’s grounding, the Department of Environment checked the site to see if any damage had been done to the seabed and found that the affected area consisted mainly of hard-packed seabed, but there were a few small coral colonies in the area that sustained serious damage.

DoE staff were again at the scene of Tuesday’s grounding. DoE Deputy Director Scott Slaybaugh told the Compass in an email that weather conditions were preventing the department from performing any in-water investigation to assess potential environmental damage, but added that this would be done once the weather clears up.