Divers, snorkellers must get port permission to visit Cali wreck

Part of the Cali wreck site in the George Town Harbour. Anyone who wants to dive or snorkel at the site now requires permission from the Port Authority. - Photo: File

One of George Town’s most popular snorkelling sites, the Wreck of the Cali in the harbour, is now off limits to snorkellers and divers unless they get special permission from the Port Authority.

Under new regulations which removed the marine park designation from that area of the harbour, the Cali site is now within a location that is zoned solely as a port anchorage area.

The regulations, along with others that expanded Cayman’s marine parks, were gazetted last week.

Port Director Joey Woods told the Cayman Compass in an email last week, “The Cali falls within the Port Anchorage Area and anyone wishing to dive it will now require approval from Port Security to dive it.”

Previously, snorkellers or divers would access the site freely, without requiring official permission, either by the Divers Down dock beside Casanova restaurant or from the ladder at the back of Rackam’s bar.

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However, visitors to the site must now receive permission beforehand, just as they would to visit the wreck of the Balboa, a 375-foot freighter that sank in 1932, which is situated immediately in front of the port.

The Cali was a cargo ship carrying 30,000 bags of rice that ran ashore in 1948.

The map on the right shows the area which is now designated solely as a port anchorage zone. – Source: DoE

Speaking at a press briefing on Friday, 19 March, Woods said that the marine park and port anchorage areas had overlapped for many years, leading to confusion for those bringing vessels into the harbour. He said that, in liaison with the Department of Environment, areas that traditionally were used for anchoring were now designated solely as an anchorage zone, and areas containing large areas of coral were included in the marine park site.

He said the anchorage zone and the marine park area would be clearly marked so that users could tell which was which. He added that having a specific anchorage zone, monitored and operated by the Port Authority, would mean the area would be safer for all users, including boat operators, swimmers, snorkellers and divers.

“For people who are diving or swimming in the marine park area, they will have boundaries set so they know when they are leaving marine park and entering into the anchorage area,” Woods said. “We want to prevent people from being injured or killed if they venture into the anchorage area where … there is vessel traffic.”

Woods said the area outlined for use as an anchorage area was now smaller than it had been previously, as before the regulations came into force, it ran from “beyond Eden Rock all the way to nearly Treasure Island, from shore to past the drop-off”.

He said in the new zoning map, Eden Rock and the shoreline area from north of the Royal Watler Terminal to Treasure Island (now called Palmar Beach Resort) fall within the marine park area and are no longer in an anchorage zone.

Anyone who wishes to seek permission to access the Cali or Balboa can the Port Security office on VHF 16 or on 914-3700.

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  1. There is no Treasure Island Beach and hasn’t been for years. It is Sunset Cove and I assume if the beach had a name it would be Sunset Cove Beach. Neither the previous hotel or the present hotel paid any money to create the cove. The independent owners of Sunset Cove condos paid over $600,000 to create the cove and now pay to maintain it. The hotel has an easement to use the beach.

  2. By his own definition, Woods “said that, in liaison with the Department of Environment, areas that traditionally were used for anchoring were now designated solely as an anchorage zone, and areas containing large areas of coral were included in the marine park site.” The Cali ought to have remained within the marine park. Nobody anchors on the Cali! It is a shallow artificial reef: created naturally into a national cultural heritage site; a reef fish nursery; has been in use constantly for snorkeling and scuba shore diving; is within walking distance of the cruise landing and is therefore a very, very rare tourism attraction. What… the… heck!? The CIDOT is actively looking for ways to increase the number of exciting tourism attractions, not remove them. This is one of the unique features that we saved from the dredge in stopping the CBF plan. Although I’ve long said that more marker buoys were needed to keep snorkelers safer from tenders approaching the landing, that’s an easy fix and nobody anchors there. There is absolutely NO excuse for this. I have to say, that if this stands for more than a very short time, I too will become one of the many doubters who disbelieve what the Progressives have purported to be their new position regarding the cruise port plan. The whole anchorage scheme had been overtly dredged up during the CBF debacle in 2019 to make it easier for them to bypass the NCL, which otherwise would have stopped the CBF plan by itself, if the port had remained within the Marine Park. Perhaps the whole zone should be reverted to the park just to prove their veracity. Prove that you are truly done with the cruise dock nonsense before the natives get restless again. The longer silence goes on after the new Government is seated, the more negative “No Port” thoughts might become as anxieties will build. At the very least, restore open use of the Cali using clear marker buoys to keep tenders apart from divers and snorkelers. This is THE product for the well established shore dive operators currently in business there. Please save these small businesses and our access before tourism re-opens.