Questions on proposed cruise port

An impression of how the proposed piers will look - if the project goes ahead.

I started my sea career at the age of 15 in 1946 culling turtles around the Nicaraguan coast. At the age of 16, I went to the US and joined the Merchant Navy Sailing of Foreign Flag Ships. I sailed on fruit ships, general cargo ships, oil tankers, bulk carriers, container ships, heavy lift ships and RO-RO (roll-on roll-off) ships.

I started as a deck hand. Retired after 41½ years as Master.

During my sailing as Master, I transported building equipment and supplies to many countries to construct docks. Just to name a few: ¬ Port Hess in St Croix, US Virgin Islands; St Thomas, USVI; Point Lisas, Pointe a Pierre, Galeota, Trinidad; Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles; St Martin; Cul de Sac Bay, St Lucia; Puerto Morelos, Mexico; Freeport, Bahamas; Guyanilla, Puerto Rico and many more.

I will name some of the companies I transported equipment for: Chicago Bridge and Iron Works, Brown and Root, Badger Litwin Contractors, Riggers International and many more. I also transported a breeder nuclear reactor for the US Atomic Energy Commission from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Longview, Washington, so I would say I have a little experience in observing dock construction.

I have a few questions to ask. Why is the builder of the dock designing it? It seems the government doesn’t know what they want. When you don’t know anything about the project, they can build anything, you don’t know if it will work or not.

Yes, you can build the dock at a cost; but will you be able to use it?

Why is the design so secret? One thing more, George Town does not have a harbour. George Town has a roadstead, a harbour is an enclosure. Please see Webster’s dictionary.

These such large cruise ships have a lot of height above the water which holds a lot of wind power. Try docking one of these large ships when you have 15-20 knots of wind. You are not docking the Kirk Trader or the Merco. It is a different ball game.

In closing, think and listen. Listening to people can save a whole lot of headache; sometimes even your life.

Paul A Hurlston
Retired Master Mariner

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  1. Hi Paul, et al,
    What would you think of a pier that is built along the deep fore reef crest in 45′-50′ of water where no dredging would be required and the thrusters would not be kicking up sediment during operations? I am intimate with the harbor’s deep reef crest, having done over 2,500 dives down the wall as pilot of the deep dive submersibles from 1986-2005. A long pier could angle toward the NW if the southern end of the first section began off of Soto’s Reef and followed the 50′ profile to the north. You could add as many sections as you want ships, which would only be able to dock on the seaward side of the piers. There is easily room for three, maybe four. It would work the same way as what Bonaire has, which allowed them to build without dredging and maintain clear water during ops. Although it places everything much farther offshore, there are several options for ways to quickly and comfortably move people to land and back. Disneyland is a showcase of such options. Other ships could still anchor to the south of it. A chorus of voices objected to the dredging in 2015 and CIG said they would take that into account in re-assessing the plan. After four years, the new plan, just like the old plan fails to address our concerns. Merely extending the length of the piers without moving the ships to deep enough water to avoid dredging has been a tremendous disappointment and reveals a lack of understanding of the issue. I’m confident that this can be done without dredging and they just have to look seriously at how. Killing the “harbor” reefs at the cost of most of the $23M-$26M/yr in the goods and services and clear water that they currently provide is myopic and unnecessary, in my opinion. Was anybody else hoping for a plan without dredging?

  2. Yes!! Anybody who cares enough for the well being of Caymans gorgeous natural reefs, marine wildlife, and eco system wants a plan without dredging. It amazes me that one of the most gorgeous snorkeling and diving reefs on this planet is in jeopardy due to wanting grotesquely large ships in its harbors for 8000+ more cruising tourists (per ship!) who stay the length of one long afternoon.