50 years ago: Men found after 13 days at sea

In the Feb. 6, 1969 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, the lead story in the newspaper was titled “Two men found,” with the subhead “380 mile, 13 day ordeal – third dead from exposure.”

The two previous editions of the paper had reported when the men first went missing, and that they were presumed dead and lost at sea. This story read:

“A sense of relief tinged with sadness swept over Grand Cayman early on Friday morning, as news spread that two of the three young men thought to be lost at sea had been washed ashore in their skiff on the Mexican coast.

“The first news for two weeks came to the Administrator from the British Consul in Mexico City by cable. This read, ‘James Ebanks, Andrew Whittaker, nationals of Cayman Islands, were picked up yesterday on Mexican coast of Puerto Juarez where their skiff was washed ashore. They claim that together with Stallman* Miller, they left Cayman Islands about 13 days ago to go fishing. Their small motor failed and they were set adrift. Miller died last Wednesday or Thursday from exposure and lack of water and was buried at sea by his companions. They say his father is Warren* Miller of George Town, Grand Cayman. Their own next of kin is cousin Miss Vurnell* Ebanks. Ebanks and Whittaker are without identification documents. Please instruct urgently.’

“(* These names should read Spellman, Verne and Burnell.)

“Our Administrator being in Nicaragua, the Hon. D.V. Watler, Deputy Administrator, immediately replied requesting repatriation of the two men who survived the ordeal of two weeks at sea in an open boat.

“Ebanks and Whittaker were due in Kingston yesterday and should arrive here today. They will be taken care of by the British High Commission while in transit home.”