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Cayman Cookout proves a breeze

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Despite the unexpected absence of host, chef Eric Ripert, Cayman Cookout 2020 displayed no lack of attendance at events, nor muted enthusiasm among guests.

In fact, life-sized cardboard cutouts of Ripert were found popping up everywhere, keeping him there in spirit.

Thanks to particularly strong breezes, many of the outdoor events were pleasant and cool, enhancing visitors’ experiences.

Thursday

Sergio ‘The Matador’ Serrano was working one of the wine stations at the Wine Fair. – Photo: Vicki Wheaton

Islanders mingled with tourists at the Jacques Scott Wine Fair and Auction, held in The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s ballroom in the evening. The foyer was filled with silent auction items, from autographed pictures of famous film stars to designer handbags and unique travel experiences.

Inside the ballroom, guests sampled dishes created by visiting chefs from The Ritz-Carlton’s overseas properties, as well as Grand Cayman staff.

The Goodnight Hannah band with lead singer DannyLoops entertained the bustling crowd, which was also taking advantage of the wine stations in the centre of the room, provided by Jacques Scott.

Funds raised were split between the Cayman Islands Cancer Society and The Ritz-Carlton’s Culinary Scholarship Fund.

Friday

José Andrés reveals the real rider of the ATV for his annual entrance – Nicholas Bodden. – Photo: Stephen Clarke

Celebrity chef José Andrés, known for his splashy, unique and unexpected entrances to his signature event on the beach each year, turned the tables on guests eagerly awaiting his arrival on Friday morning. As the theme from ‘Mad Max’ drummed through the tent, Andrés seemed to be approaching on a Raptor ATV along the beach, flanked by characters dressed in the style of the futuristic film.

As he dismounted the transport and made his way into the tent, photographers snapped away, with the curious crowd enthusiastically following him in. After a few waves to his audience, his disembodied voice announced that he would remove his mask. The person revealed beneath was, in fact, the owner of the ATV – Nicholas Bodden. Andrés had slipped in via the back of the tent and through the crowd.

The switcharoo was greeted with laughter and applause, and soon after, Andrés was in the throes of presenting his paella demonstration.

Andrew Zimmern explores the flavours of Cayman at his event on the Great Lawn at The Ritz-Carlton. – Photo: Stephen Clarke

At 11:30am, a large crowd gathered on the Great Lawn at The Ritz-Carlton for Andrew Zimmern Explores the Flavours of Cayman.

An American chef with a penchant for bizarre foods, Zimmern took a turn around local restaurant booths with resident foodie, Alan Markoff, giving him the lowdown on certain cooking traditions and ingredients.

Zimmern spoke enthusiastically about the dishes he tasted, raving about the delights of saltfish and ackee – a popular Jamaican and local dish – and encouraged guests to try the green iguana on offer. Kirk Market, Cracked Conch, The Westin and Nyamaste were just a few of the companies represented at the event.

Once Zimmern had visited every booth, he sat on the stage for a Q&A session with Compass Media’s Living editor, Vicki Wheaton, and answered questions from members of the crowd.

On Friday night, the Barefoot BBQ was once again held at Royal Palms on the beach. Chefs had stations set up all around the venue, including Andrés and Zimmern at the water’s edge, with OneWorld’s DJ Natural, accompanied by Gary Ebanks on saxophone and Luis Eden on percussion, keeping people dancing until the event ended at 10pm. There was a firework show at 9pm, sponsored by Cayman Firepower.

Saturday

Mark Lewis (standing), owner of Cape Landing Winery, chats with guests at the Un Lunch Quebequois.

Catamarans and cars headed to the Rum Point Beach Bash at lunchtime, hosted for the second time by ‘The TODAY Show’s Al Roker, while some of those who remained on Seven Mile Beach attended Un Lunch Quebequois with one of Quebec’s most revered chefs – Normand Laprise – and Cape Landing wines.

Cayman resident and owner of the winery, Mark Lewis, took diners through the courses, explaining the wine pairings. The award-winning Cape Landing Cabernet Sauvignon was presented to guests for the very first time at the lunch.

On Saturday night, the Harbour Club at The Ritz-Carlton was in the pink for the Rose it Out event presented by Moet & Chandon.

Guests were greeted at the entrance by two models sporting lit hoop skirts that held many glasses of Champagne. Guests danced on the plexiglass platform situated over the pool to a DJ on an elevated stage with large video displays below.

Unique costumes worn by models were covered in filled Champagne glasses.

Carnival girls from the CayMAS Swanky group wearing the latest costumes from the 2020 collection joined in a conga line that culminated in a Champagne spray on the dance floor. The event ended at midnight.

Sunday
For two professional local chefs, a lot was riding on their performance at the Bon Vivant Chef Competition Brunch, hosted by Cynthia Hew of Bon Vivant and Roker.

Sara Mair-Doak of Smokies fame and Roman Kleinrath of Luca battled it out on the main stage before judges Andrew Zimmern, Emeril Lagasse, Charles Joly, Rainer Zinngrebe and Frederic Morineau, as well as a sold-out ballroom audience.

Each chef was given a mystery basket of basic ingredients, featuring tuna, and had access to a pantry from which they could pick further items.

With very little time on the clock, both came up with impressive dishes, but it was Mair-Doak who emerged victorious, winning the coveted title.

Chef Sara Mair-Doak reacts to the contents of the mystery basket. – Photo: Stephen Clarke

After the brunch, guests made their way to Rum & Robusto at the Harbour Club Pool where the sounds of Trio Vivo band permeated the air. Cayman Cigar Company had a rolling station, which joined a coconut-chopping booth and sugar cane station, along with myriad food and drink stops around the pool area. Overcast skies and those persistent breezes were a welcome break from the hot sun.

The final event of Cayman Cookout 2020 was held in Blue by Eric Ripert on Sunday night. The Grand Gala once again had many cooks in the kitchen creating a multi-course meal that has gained such a reputation over the years, that the dinner was one of the first events to sell out online.

What is in store for Cayman Cookout 2021? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Round three wraps for Alex Alexander Memorial Cup

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The first game of round three in the Alex Alexander Memorial Cup featured Fidelity Cayman Storm beating Advance Fire & Plumbing Buccaneers by 23 points at the rugby pitch in South Sound. In the first half, the Buccaneers got the upper hand against the Storm with set pieces, but as the game progressed, they squandered several opportunities.

The Storm stayed composed, though, and stuck with their defensive cover. On the offensive side, Storm’s Gearoid Magner, Martin Pacaud, Hugh McBride and Tyron Jackson all got tries during the game, contributing to the end score of 33-10.

The second and final game of the day came down to the wire, with the Queensgate Pigs Trotters beating the John Doak Architecture & Tradeview Markets Iguanas with a try and a drop goal. In the first half, the Pigs Trotters held the lead after scoring several tries. However, they got their house blown down after the Iguanas came back strong to go ahead 30-13 during the second half. But those 30 points would be all the Iguanas would get for the game as the Pigs Trotters dominated the rest of the match with Jaron Maynard, Kevin Marion, Paul Westin and Matthew Westin all contributing tries to earn their team a hard-fought 35-30 victory.

“We came off a long Christmas and New Year holiday layoff, but this was a great first run,” said Pigs Trotters’ Shane Westin. “The iguanas had a game last week, so I think they were a little bit more prepared, but we got off to a good start in the first quarter. They came back in the second quarter and then it was kind of a free-for-all in the second half; the team just scored tries. They made a really good push back at the end, but I’m proud of our boys because we dug deep to get the win.”

The Alex Alexander Memorial Cup tournament will resume on 1 Feb.

Corporate volleyball league opens serve

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MUFG took to the court for the first time in Corporate Volleyball history to take on Maples Legal Eagles. Despite being new to the league, MUFG held their own and only fell short by 25-21 and 25-19.

Meanwhile, Dart A and Dart B faced off on the other court. Dart B rose to the occasion beating their corporate colleagues in two straight sets, 21-17 and 21-16.

In the second game of the day, KPMG and Wheaton Precious Metals battled it out in a tight first set, but KPMG clinched the lead 25-21. KPMG kept their momentum going in the second set and defeated WPM 21-13. PWC took on the defending champions for their first game of the corporate season, and swiftly defeated Maples FS in 2 straight sets, 21-14 and 21-16.

Barnes takes second at FasTrak Collegiate

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Lacee Barnes

Lacee Barnes, Cayman’s five-time CARIFTA Games medallist, competed at the FasTrak Collegiate meet in Houston, Texas on 11 Jan. and secured a second-place finish in shot put.

Barnes attends the University of Texas in San Antonio, where she competes as part of the track-and-field team. Over the weekend, Barnes took part in the Ted Nelson Invitational on the Texas A&M campus, placing fifth in shot put. The university junior said the meets are preparation for bigger things to come.

Caymanian Kareem Streete-Thompson is the Roadrunners’ associate head coach. He coaches the team’s sprinters, as well as the jump and relay events.“For the start of the season, I am pleased with my results,” Barnes told the Cayman Compass. “Shot put and weight throw are my secondary/minor events that I compete in for the indoor season. I have aspirations to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in my main event, discus. I will open up in discus at the start of outdoor season sometime in March.”

A radio greeting to Cayman from sea

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Andrew Eden poses aboard the Dea Maris with his cousin Nimitz Ebanks in Port Said, Egypt, in September 1966. It was Eden’s first trip to sea.

At age 17, Andrew Eden of Savannah joined his first crude oil tanker, the Dea Maris, with National Bulk Carriers in 1966. Eden started as a messman, earning US$132 a month, but he quickly worked his way up the ladder. Taking advantage of correspondence courses, he ascended to the status of chief engineer by the age of 25.

An active member of the Cayman Islands Seafarers Association, Eden has continued to honour Cayman’s maritime legacy, serving as a past president of the organisation and current member of the council.

As part of the Cayman Compass #SaveOurStories series, he recounts tales from his days at sea. Eden takes us aboard a tanker in distress and later he shares his love of ham radio. Below are his experiences in his own words.

Sailing the world

The National Bulk Carriers were looking for a full crew to take over a ship, which was under Spanish crew up in Portland, Maine, and I was one of them that was chosen. There was 17 of us from Grand Cayman or the Cayman Islands. Some from the Brac also that went over to Portland, Maine, to assume control over that ship.

I started out as a messman, which is the guy who shovels food and makes up beds and all those kinds of things. So, I started right at the bottom of the totem pole there.

I was 17 years old at that time, and I sailed until I was 34 before I retired from the sea, but I’m 71 now.

I’m still trying to figure out how to retire.

I got to visit all over the world – a lot of ports in the US, ports all over Europe, all over the Middle East and into Asia, South America, the Caribbean.

My very first trip at sea, I was gone 26 months, and I worked my way up from a messman to a second pumpman, engine maintenance.

From my first ship, I started studying, taking correspondence courses from a Seaman’s Church Institute in New York, which was an engineering school.

At the age of 25, I had my chief engineer’s licence and was sailing as a chief engineer after that.

After reaching officer status, Andrew Eden was able to sail with wife Lerita aboard the ships.

For me, it was truly, truly very great because at the age of 24, I was married, and my wife, Lerita, sailed with me for five years on board ship.

As officers, we could take our wives on board and sometimes she was out there nine, 10 months of the year with me.

Fire in the engine room

As far as storms are concerned, the ships were so large, to us it was fun watching the waves wash right over the ship and all that.

You’d see half the ship under the water at times, you know, and it was exciting. But my very first trip at sea, we had a very scary moment. I was still a messman at that time. And just after 6 in the morning, the fire alarm goes on. So everyone rushed to the cabin to get their life jacket. The mess hall, everywhere, is full of smoke.

What had happened in the engine room, it had a busted oil line. It caught fire, so it had the whole ship quarters full of smoke.

Luckily, we had one guy from Cayman who was an oiler at the time, and he stayed down there to eventually get the fire out because as I was going down to get my life jacket, I saw the third engineer who was on watch in the engine room, [and] he’s running out. Luckily, this Caymanian stayed down there and really saved us.

But the most scary part of that, we were all at our station up on the boat deck, you know, preparing to abandon ship if necessary. And what happened to all the heat in the engine room was, up on that deck we had a lot of empty oil drums, 55-gallon oil drums, and the heat from that, it blew the deck up and all of those empty drums popped up.

And, oh my, it scared everyone to death. You know, we thought that was the end of us. So, it was a really scary time. I’d say it was probably the most disturbing time I had out there.

We were probably about 18 hours out of France at the time and when we got to port, you know, a bunch of [the men] were gone.

They said, hey, we’re not going back out there.

While at sea, Eden picked up amateur radio, a hobby he still enjoys today. As a member of a Liberian-flagged ship, he would use the Liberian call sign displayed here, EL0AV.

Radioing home to Cayman

After sailing as a chief engineer, there was no higher to go there. And I was so used to studying, I said, well, let me study for a commercial radio operator. Because those days we carried radio operators on board the ships, and while studying for that, I found a magazine on amateur radio or ham radio. I got my amateur radio licence back in 1978 and been enjoying the hobby ever since.

Believe it or not, I had my own radio station aboard ship, and I used to talk back with Cayman every day, morning and evening, no matter what part of the worId I was in, and it was really exciting.

I had a friend on the island here who was a ham radio operator. There are a few of them actually, but one specifically. He was a manager at one of the condos on Seven Mile Beach. And I used to talk with him every morning and every evening.

I have [used] three call signs because I have a Cayman licence, I have a US licence, and at that time, I had a Liberian licence also. From aboard ship, I used the Liberian call sign, which is EL0AV. My local one here is ZF1EJ or Zulu, Fox, One, Echo, Juliet. And I also have a US licence, which is KE4LB.

Andrew Eden has three ham radio call signs, from Cayman, the US and Liberia. – Photo: Alvaro Serey

Every day you get on there, there’s someone you’ve never heard before and someone who’s never heard you before. And they are always looking to talk with the rare call signs and all of that. And it is a hobby that’s growing every day. Every day there’s something new, you know. We started over spark gap back in the early 1900s and today a lot of radios, they’re linked with computers and all of that.

Where ham radio comes in great is in times that are more intense, like hurricanes or earthquakes or something like that. You know, all communications are down. We can easily get back on the air. For instance, everything I have here can operate on 12 watts DC. So, I have a bank of batteries outside, which is charged by solar power.

If all that intel has come down, we put up a piece of wire and we can still communicate with people around the world, sending traffic, health and welfare communications or whatever’s necessary.

Deaf tourist inspires students

Architect Thomas Posedly and his wife Penny visited Lighthouse School to sign his life story to the students and staff on Friday.

The Posedlys first came to Cayman on a cruise ship last year and, with only eight hours to explore, they chose to take a taxi to Lighthouse School.

“Last year, I asked the [deputy] principal if he would mind if I’d give a little talk for 10 minutes in the classroom. We learned the Lighthouse School serves all sorts of different disabilities,” Posedly said, as he initially thought it was a school for the deaf. He delivered his talk to students, and was interviewed by the Cayman Compass, through sign language translated by his wife, an accredited American Sign Language interpreter.

“I gave a talk to students that were there and I told them my name and what I do for a living as an architect and I spelled out that word and explained it, and then they wanted to know how I could go through a public high school and in college,” Posedly said.

Janice Headley-Thorpe, acting principal of Lighthouse, said the school was excited to host the Posedlys again last week.

“It is wonderful to come to know how successful Mr. Posedly has been in his life with his differences in communication. It is a testimony to his hard work and determination and the support and understanding he has availed of and fostered,” Headley-Thorpe said.

Posedly was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and was diagnosed as completely deaf by the age of 2, after being taken to 20 different doctors, he said. Despite his challenges in communication and being the first deaf student at Tucson High School in Arizona, he earned a two-year scholarship to the University of Arizona because he ranked ninth out of his class of 350.

Posedly said that he went on to major in architecture, with a minor in studio art. He worked in his own architecture office, doing basic architectural services and architectural renderings for 18 years.

“It’s so important to learn reading and writing,” he said. “Sign language is very good if you’re deaf, it really is, but it’s important to have your mind connected with your eyes. If you don’t hear anything, what’s left is your eyes and your brain and that’s important to keep active.”

In 2009, Posedly became a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. In 2014, he helped set up an organisation called World Deaf Architecture, which helps professional architects and designers who are deaf, deaf-blind, or hard of hearing to network internationally.

Both Headley-Thorpe and Aidan Tumilty, deputy principal of Lighthouse School, said It was hugely beneficial for the students and staff to hear Posedly’s story.

“His life’s journey exemplifies what our students can also achieve through hard work, determination and not giving up on their dreams. LHS would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Posedly for making the effort to increase awareness of the hearing impaired community and understanding differences,” Headley-Thorpe said.

Youth Ambassadors discuss mental health

Students from the Alex Panton Foundation Youth Ambassador Programme last week organised a series of workshops and a play that focussed on suicide, depression, anxiety and bullying.

The gathering on Wednesday, 15 Jan. was a partnership among teachers, counsellors, youth ambassadors and 12 drama students from Cayman International School, who discussed issues that affect teenagers.

Teens performed a one-act play, ‘The Bright Blue Mailbox Suicide Note’ by Lindsay Price, which highlighted the importance of friendship and preventing bullying and suicide, as well as tackled the stigma behind mental health issues, according to Bill LaMonte, CIS teacher and an organiser of the programme.

Cristin Jackson, 17, leader of the Youth Ambassador Programme, said she was pleased by the community engagement and felt the play was quite impactful.

“It focussed on how a group of friends reacted when an anonymous suicide note was found. Despite different perspectives and rising tensions, by the end of the play, the group was able to begin having honest conversations, no matter how challenging they became,” Jackson said.

She added she is hopeful that such discussions will continue to raise awareness around mental health issues in Cayman.

“The Youth Ambassador Programme aims to release a campaign entitled ‘Don’t Stay Silent’ as we strive to decrease the stigma around mental health issues and encourage solutions to obstacles the youth face,” Jackson said.

The campaign will highlight the impacts of domestic violence, bullying, drug and alcohol abuse, anxiety, depression and suicide.

One of the student actors, Angelia Sargsyan, 14, said, “Like the characters in the play, teens often pretend to have a fairytale life, but we all have issues that we hide.”

The play comes ahead of the Alex Panton Foundation’s third annual Mental Health Symposium that is being held on 22 Feb. at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. The theme for this year’s symposium is ‘Empowering Youth. Inspiring Hope’.

Dive industry mourns loss of Aggressor founder Wayne Hasson

International Scuba Diving Hall of Famer Wayne Hasson has passed away.

Hasson, 70, who lost his battle with renal cell cancer over the weekend, founded the Aggressor Fleet and the Oceans for Youth organisation, and was an avid diver who started his underwater love affair with the sea in 1967.

He was one of the most well-known names in the diving industry, not just in Cayman, but worldwide.

Local divemaster Peter Milburn said he and Hasson had been friends for more than 30 years and he was saddened by Hasson’s passing.

He said he had been hopeful that the international diving expert would have made a full recovery from his illness.

“It’s a very sad time, obviously, that he passed away. I did know that he was sick for quite a long time, but I was hoping for the best, but sometimes these things don’t work out. He was a very nice, great person. [He was] easy to work with,” Milburn told the Cayman Compass Monday.

Milburn said Hasson was a part of the Cayman Islands Watersports Association, then called the Watersports Operators Association.

He lauded Hasson’s contribution to the local diving industry.

“He’s done a tremendous amount of work to publicise the Cayman Islands as one of the world’s leading dive areas,” Milburn said.

Hasson, through stewardship of the Cayman Aggressor, led dives around the Cayman Islands and elsewhere.

“He was very good at what he did, highly respected by many, many people,” Milburn added.

In 2018, Hasson was inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame.

Hasson is credited with helping to install the first 112 permanent moorings in the Cayman Islands and took the concept and idea to Belize, Turks and Caicos, the Bay Islands, Kona and Truk.

He also invented SASY (Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth).

In addition, Hasson was known for his award-winning photography, which has been featured in publications worldwide.

A number of international dive magazines paid tribute to Hasson, describing him as a “sea hero”.

Aggressor CEO and Hasson’s friend, Wayne B. Brown, and the Aggressor team also paid tribute to the hall of famer on the Aggressor Adventures website.

“The dive industry has lost a true legend. Aggressor Adventures would not be where it is today without Wayne Hasson. He will be missed so much by not just our work family but the dive community around the world. We at Aggressor Adventures will do everything possible to keep his vision alive,” the tribute read.

Brown, in his message, described Hasson as a mentor, innovator, dedicated family man, lover of all things oceans.

“His passion for the scuba diving world was clearly evident to everyone that met him. In the 35 years with Aggressor, he never once wavered in his dedication to the company and its staff. We are all blessed to have crossed paths with him. May his memory and accomplishments be remembered forever,” he said.

Revised voters list to be released

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The Elections Office will publish its latest revised voters list on Tuesday, 21 Jan.

In the Revised Register of Electors, which is set to become effective on 1 April, there are 21,782 registered voters.

The new list reflects an additional 462 voters who have registered since 1 Oct., and 62 voters who were removed from the previous list, including 53 who died since the last revision, according to the Elections Office. Registration for the new revised list closed on 2 Jan.

The Elections Office is now asking people who registered to vote between 1 Oct. 2019 and 2 Jan. 2020 to review the list on its website (www.elections.ky) or in print at post offices.

The office is also encouraging the public to review the list for invalid entries or outdated information, such as cases where a voter has moved to a different electoral district or may no longer be residing in the Cayman Islands.

The deadline for submitting claims and objections is 11 Feb.

Once the revised list is finalised, it will become the Official Register of Electors on 1 April, according to a statement from the Elections Office.

“The Elections Office reminds those wanting to register to vote, that they can register at any time. The deadline to be included in the next Official Register of Electors list (which will be effective from 1 July 2020), is 1 April 2020,” the Elections Office statement continued.

Individuals who have claims in relation to applications submitted during the last registration period are asked to email the Elections Office at [email protected] or phone 949-8047.

Swimmers call for protection of Eden Rock

Swimmers of all ages took to the water off Eden Rock Sunday afternoon to support the conservation of the popular George Town dive and snorkel site.

Led by organiser Rory Joe McDonough, around 60 people participated in the Eden Rock Solidarity Swim, which involved swimming roughly 150 metres from the shoreline and back, to show their love for the spot.

“We’re just a group of concerned citizens, as well as residents on island, that are coming together just to show some support for the reefs, to show some appreciation for one of the massive draws that this island has to offer, to recognise that it is a place worth fighting for,” McDonough told the Cayman Compass Sunday.

Rory Joe McDonough organised Sunday’s swim.

He said while the swim was not organised to make a political statement against the $200 million cruise berthing and port project, the issues of protecting the site and the port development could not be separated.

“I chose to make this focus more about what we appreciate and what we have, as opposed to making it an outright political statement,” he added.

While the swim carried with it a serious message for those who joined hands in the effort, the kids taking part in the event, it seemed, were just happy to have fun in the water.

This is part of the message McDonough said he wanted to send to government – that people get joy from visiting the area.

“People care about the reefs. People care about having a natural environment, a clean environment, world-class reefs, recreational diving that brings people in from around the world. This is a very famous spot, and to just throw it away so callously for more T-shirt sales in town just doesn’t make any sense,” said McDonough.

Brittany Balli and Michelle Lockwood donned mermaid tails for the Eden Rock Solidarity Swim. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Government has said previously that dive sites like Eden Rock would not be impacted by the project.

However, McDonough said a 2015 environmental impact assessment showed that silt will make its way to the South Church Street sites. In the absence of new reports, that is the finding the public has to work with, he said. “We have not seen anything that would convince us that this will not be affected by the silt dredging,” he added.

On Wednesday, a judicial review brought by Cruise Port Referendum Cayman member Shirley Roulstone is set to begin. She has challenged the referendum on the cruise berthing project, saying the question set by government was biased, and updated reports were needed before the vote could progress. She also challenged the timing of the vote.

The referendum originally was planned for 19 Dec. 2019, but the court delayed the vote to hear Roulstone’s case. The Solidarity Swim initially had been scheduled for 19 Dec., but was postponed due to bad weather.

Swimmers get ready to join the swim at Eden Rock. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

CPR member Michelle Lockwood, who was among those that attended Sunday’s swim, said it was a community event and a great way for those who cannot participate in the referendum to show their support for the environment.

“There are some Caymanians that are still concerned about this, that aren’t registered to vote yet or might have missed the mark, as well as a lot of community people, kids that are underage. So, this is a really amazing way to be involved and let these people have an opportunity to voice their concerns,” she said.

Caymanian student Chris Fletcher said he was happy to be involved in the swim.

“I just feel it’s important to come out with people who have a similar mindset … about the whole issue. It’s just like coming together for a good cause, the environment, and to appreciate the beauty that Cayman has to offer,” Fletcher said

Former OfReg boss passes

J. Paul Morgan, the former chief executive officer of the Utility Regulation and Competition Office (OfReg), has died.

Morgan was the first CEO of OfReg, which commenced operations in 2017. His contract with the regulatory body came to an end in August 2018.

According to reports in local media in Jamaica, Morgan died Sunday morning.

The board and directors of OfReg issued a statement Monday afternoon in which they said they were is deeply saddened by Morgan’s passing.

The statement read: “Mr. Morgan was the chief architect and expert who designed the regulatory framework that created and amalgamated the disparate sector regulatory agencies into one entity [which] we now know as OfReg. He also served as the first CEO of OfReg from its inception in January 2017 until August 2018.

“J.P., as he was fondly known, was a reservoir of public utility regulation knowledge, with a repertoire of skills that characterized his success as a regulatory giant in the Caribbean region and beyond. The Board of Directors and staff of OfReg conveys sincere condolences to his wife and family during this time of sorrow and grief. We remain thankful for his dedication and work in making the regulation of public infrastructure in the Cayman Islands better for the future.”

The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper said Morgan was a founding member of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) in Jamaica.

Morgan also served in the capacity of deputy director general of the organisation before being appointed director general.

He was a regional consultant on energy, telecommunications and water policies and had more than 40 years of experience in utilities, engineering, utility regulation and management.

Morgan, the Gleaner said, was also a founding member of the Organisation of Caribbean Unity Regulators and served as chairman on more than one occasion.

Power cut causes water outage

Homes and businesses in George Town and Savannah experienced low water pressure or complete water outages Monday morning following a power cut, the Water Authority – Cayman reported.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, the Water Authority said technical issues had caused some of its customers to experience the problems.

“The issue was the result of an early morning power outage, which caused the pump control equipment to shut down,” the Water Authority said.

The company said normal service resumed within 60 minutes.

Academy SC bests George Town SC

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Academy SC beat George Town SC 2-1 Saturday night at the Annex, in a contentious match which included three yellow cards, several altercations and more than 20 fouls.

The first half of the game was scoreless. However, three minutes into the second half, Academy’s Trey Ebanks opened the scoring. George Town SC put the ball in the net in the 60th minute, but that was quickly called off as an offside. One minute later, Andres Ruiz, after just being subbed in, scored, to bring the game level.

In the 68th minute, a penalty was given in favour of Academy. George Town head coach Garth Anderson was not pleased with the decision, lashing out at the fourth official, which almost led to a card. Romario Dixon stepped up to take the penalty and slotted the ball in, leading to the final 2-1 scoreline.

“It’s really frustrating to know the refs were making terrible calls,” said George Town SC head coach Garth Anderson. “All I’m asking for is for the referees to give us a fair chance, because even the penalty, that was a wrong call. It was not a penalty; the ball was running out, and it was wide away from goal. There’s no way that he could’ve played it in or played it back to anyone and it was minimum contact, which is unfortunate and harsh. So yes, I’m very frustrated.”

Referee Jonathan Hughes breaking up one of many confrontations during George Town SC vs. Academy SC match. Photos: Seaford Russell Jr.

Academy head coach Aleksander Kocic said after the match, “Firstly, I would like to congratulate the boys on their performance today; that’s our fourth win in a row. I thought the game was aggressive, yes, because we were the young team and those guys on the other team are older. So, they were trying to intimidate us, and they got frustrated because they couldn’t keep up with us on the field in terms of our fitness.

“So, they tried to use their physicality on us but, at the end of the day, we showed even as a young team, we had more maturity and we got the win.”

But Anderson pointed to the officiating in the loss. “There was a lot of fouls and a lot of calls that we didn’t get, and we should’ve gotten,” he said. “They are biased towards us but there’s nothing we can do about it. If players are getting frustrated, there’s nothing a coach can do from the sidelines. It doesn’t matter if you tell them to keep calm during confrontations … The other coach doesn’t understand because the refs aren’t calling fouls on his team. It’s just favouritism for him.”

In other games, after two consecutive losses, Scholars ISC beat Latinos FC 4-1, in a high-stakes match, with the winner taking second place in the CIFA league. North Side suffered a 5-1 defeat at the hands of East End UFC.

International speakers to feature at heart symposium

Dr. Bella Beraha, chairperson of the Cayman Heart Fund

The Cayman Heart Fund’s 13th annual International Symposium in March will feature cardiovascular disease specialists who will talk about the latest research, technology and advancements in heart medicine and healthcare.

The symposium will be held at the Margaritaville Resort on Thursday, 19 March.

Participating hospitals include Cleveland Clinic Florida, Holy Cross Health, Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute of Baptist Hospital South Florida, Jackson Health Systems, Memorial Healthcare Systems, and Broward Health International, according to organisers.

Dr. Bella Beraha, symposium organiser and Cayman Heart Fund chairperson, said she believed that the topics and discussions will offer vital information to Cayman’s medical practitioners.

CHF is inviting members of the medical community to register for the symposium and receive Continuing Medical Education credits.

To register for the event, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/M936ZXS.

School bus involved in collision in Savannah

A school bus carrying Theoline McCoy Primary School students was involved in a collision on Shamrock Road in Savannah on Monday morning.

An Education Ministry statement on the incident stated that all passengers on the school bus were assessed and reported to be injury free.

A full investigation by the ministry and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service will be launched into the matter, the ministry said.

It said it will release more details once the investigation is complete.

The crash happened just before 7am, in the Savannah Meadows area.

According to the statement, the collision was between the contracted school bus and a private motor vehicle.

The RCIPS and emergency services responded to the crash.

Two passengers in the private vehicle were treated by EMTs, the statement said. The students were transferred to another school bus which arrived on the scene and were driven to school.

Acting Director of Education Services Tammy Banks-DaCosta expressed relief that the collision did not result in injury to the students.

“I am relieved and happy to inform the public that our students have been cleared and deemed safe from all physical harm and injury after what was a most unfortunate incident this morning. Our staff followed proper protocol in making sure our students’ safety was the utmost priority, and also ensuring that they arrived to their studies on time,” she said.

PHOTO GALLERY: Cayman Cookout 2020

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Stories of survival at sea

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Wenzil Burlington, 85, from West Bay lived adventurously at sea as one of Cayman’s seafarers. From turtling the Miskito Cays to earning his engineering diploma while working with National Bulk Carriers, Burlington was shaped by his youth at sea. Like many Caymanians of his generation, he started working schooners at a young age, first venturing to sea as a teenager. After being at sea for 13 years, Burlington returned to Grand Cayman and married Martha Borden in 1967.

As part of the Cayman Compass #SaveOurStories series, Burlington shared some tales from his seafaring days. Below are the stories, as told in Burlington’s own words.

Wenzil Burlington, like most Caymanian men, went to sea at an early age.

In the beginning
When I went to sea, there wasn’t anything to do. Nothing was happening in Cayman. There was no work. I was 16.

I went to Miskito Cay off the Nicaraguan coast to catch turtles and nurse sharks. They used to catch the nurse sharks and take their hide off of them, salt them and ship them to Japan and the turtle we used to butcher locally. I made two trips there.

We were fishing off of the coast. There was a big cay and we had to make a hut and we lived in the hut. The cay was big but [because of the] sand flies, you couldn’t live on the land. So, we had to put our hut on a shallow bar and live there. I believe I was there close to four months and then came back home before going back out. Three guys lived in the hut, except for a short time when a hurricane came by and some of our friends were in different places and [it] wasn’t so safe. So, they came and stayed with us. Then when the weather cleared up, they went back.

But, after that, I came home and about two months later, I went back again. This time it was just for turtle, but a freak storm came down. We thought it was a nor’wester coming because the sky was black. We had to bring in our nets because we couldn’t afford to lose them. It was about six boats in different places, they went to tie their net but they went too late and [the storm] caught them and two of the boats were drove away by the storm.

One boat with three guys got turned over three times in one night. As soon as they got turned over the sea went calm and they were able to get back in, but the big seas came back and turned them over again.

They drifted to land. The tide had brought them in and the captain, because the other two men were young boys like me, was jumping overboard to bring the boat in.

It was a pretty-looking beach, and a woman came out and started waving, telling them, “No, no, no”, told them to go further up. So, he went and when he got ashore, the woman told him there was quicksand.

Next couple of days, the other boat that was lost, she drifted in. It was only one boy left and he had tied himself down in the boat. But he had died and the other two never turned up.

Boy, I felt so bad and I was so scared, I decided to come home. I asked the captain if I came aboard, if he would take me back home and he said, “Yeah”.

Banana boats and dodging a bullet

There’s two islands. There’s Big Swan and there’s Little Swan. Big Swan Island, the Americans would use it to ready for the war, during World War II, and two brothers were taking care of the island, Captain Harry Glidden and Captain Donald Glidden. The captain told me if I came down there, he could get a captain of a banana boat to come and pick me up when he needed a man, and so the captain came and picked me up. They were hauling bananas from Puerto Limon to Tampa. We used to make a trip in two weeks, and every two weeks we went. I stayed there for 15 months.

While I was on these banana boats, I took some courses. Gasoline and diesel were the two first courses from the International Correspondence School and I got my diploma. I had to mail the lessons to Ohio.

When I was on the second banana boat, a guy came look for me and said there was a vacancy for a second engineer and I went and got that [job]. But what happened was they had to put [the boat, ‘Romana’] on dry dock. The company didn’t have enough money to pay for it and they plastered her.

She couldn’t sail till a bill was paid and we stayed there about three months. Back then, the immigration was getting kind of stiff then, so they gave me 29 days to start off with, and that ran out. I got another 29 days, and that ran out. Then immigration gave me 15 days and [the official] said, “Listen, sonny, I gave you 15 days. That’ll be up on Saturday and this office is closed on Saturday and Sunday.” And he said, “Don’t you come back in this office Monday morning with that ‘Romana’ in your mouth.” So, I waited two days before my time ran out and said, “I’m going to have to go home.”

I wasn’t prepared to go home yet.

[Before returning,] I had to go to town to get a hair trim. I was in the barber chair and he was trimming me. I had a big old towel around, a sheet, and the door was near me. Through the corner of my eye, I see this man walk in, but I wasn’t paying him no mind.
He went behind us and then I heard ‘BANG!’ I heard this blow and this barber dropped down in front of me, blood spouting out of him. [The man] had shot him in the head and killed him. I was afraid of dead people and I say, “How am I going get out of here?”
I jumped over him and took off.

I took a cab to get to the barber shop, but I wasn’t messing with no cab then. I ran but I see the people on the sidewalk looking at me.

When I got on board [the boat], I sat down [and] them boys said, “What happened?” I [hadn’t] realised I still had that sheet over me. They must’ve thought I was Batman [with a cape].

I came home after that; I stayed home about three weeks.

Climbing the ladder at National Bulk Carriers
I went to National Bulk Carriers. I was working in the engine room as a wiper. Then after that, I was promoted to oiler, fireman and junior engineer and then I went to pump man.

The first assistant didn’t like me. That brute looked at me the first day I seen him in my life and hated me. It was winter and it was cold, and I bought a little cloth hat and I went down the engine room. There was three wipers and I was standing up by the boilers talking to the fireman and [the first assistant] just came up to me and took my hat off and threw it in the bucket with oil.

But because he didn’t like me, the chief didn’t like him. The more harm he done me, the better the chief liked me.

Passing the test
[When I was in New York] I went to the Union Hall, because all my friends that had worked on the ship had worked at the Union. There was a pump man job on the open board and I could apply for that, but I really didn’t care too much about it.

One of my friends said, “Man, go down to the Coast Guard and get your endorsement. Your brother in Mobile, [Alabama], they only asked him three questions to give him the pump man endorsement.” He wouldn’t leave me alone, so I said, “All right, I’m going to go through with it.”

I went and there was a short, red-face, red-hair man and I told him what I had come for.

He said, “All right, have a seat and I’ll soon be with you.” That was at 8 o’clock in the morning soon, as soon as it opened, and I sat down till 12 o’clock.

A girl came out and said, “You getting taken care of?” I said, “I thought I was but I don’t know.”

[The man] then said, “Yes, I’m here. I’m going to soon be out.” He came out and withdrew 180 questions. I hadn’t looked at a book in two years then.

Anyway, I worked on them and worked on them. I wrote till I got a big old blister on my finger. There was some questions I didn’t know the answer, so I skipped them, and I missed five.

He said, “All right, that’s okay,” and he asked me [more questions] verbally. I got three out of the five right, so I thought now he was going to get me the pump man endorsement.

He gave me a ‘Qualified Member of the Engine Department’, which is next to engineer.
When I got to the Union Hall, the [pump man] job was gone. How glad I was. I didn’t want that job.

Gomez named Port Authority board chairman

Career civil servant Kearney Gomez has been appointed chairman of the board at the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands.

He took over from Errol Bush who last year stepped down from the Port Authority board, citing personal reasons. The new chairman commenced his four-year tenure on 2 Jan., according to a District Administration, Tourism and Transport Ministry statement.

Gomez welcomed his new role and said he has set his sights on port operations.

“Having dedicated much of my life and career to the growth and development of the Cayman Islands, I look forward to working with the board, staff and Port partners to deliver safe, efficient and customer-focussed operations while contributing to the economic development of our Islands,” Gomez said in the statement.

His appointment comes at a critical time for the port as government’s plans for a cruise berthing and cargo project faces much scrutiny, ahead of a people-initiated referendum on the future of the project.

The project is in a state of abeyance as a court prepares this week to hear a judicial review brought by Cruise Port Referendum Cayman member Shirley Roulstone.

Roulstone challenged the government’s handling of the referendum, initially planned for 19 Dec. 2019. The vote was put on hold until the case is completed. The judicial review is set to begin 22 Jan.

However, Gomez, whom the ministry said during his tenure as a civil servant has played a significant role in the introduction of a considerable number of infrastructural projects, including the new Government Administration Building and port container terminal, appeared open to his new challenge.

“I am honoured to have the opportunity to continue progressing the important work of the Port Authority. Optimising the efficiency of our country’s trade, freight and supply chain is particularly important, especially as we are seeing rapid growth in freight and population,” he said in his statement.

Gomez is a retired civil servant whose career began in the early 1970s during the advent of the Regional Cadastral Survey and Registration Project and the establishment of the Lands and Survey Department.

He is also a former Supervisor of Elections. In 1980, Gomez moved into the Portfolio of Agriculture, Lands and Natural Resources where he served as an assistant principal secretary and shortly thereafter was appointed to the post of principal secretary. He retired from the civil service in 2013.

Tourism and Transport Minister Moses Kirkconnell welcomed Gomez’s appointment.
“Having served for over four decades in government service, his experience and knowledge will bring invaluable insight and leadership to our Port operations and its future strategic direction. Mr. Gomez has chaired many Board meetings of both the Port Authority and the Water Authority in the past and is ideally suited to serve as Chairman on an ongoing basis,” Kirkconnell said in the statement.

About Kearney Gomez

Kearney Gomez is a retired civil servant whose career began in the early 1970s during the advent of the Regional Cadastral Survey and Registration Project and the establishment of the Lands and Survey Department.

In 1980, he moved into the Portfolio of Agriculture, Lands and Natural Resources where he served as an assistant principal secretary and shortly thereafter was appointed to the post of principal secretary. He was also appointed as Supervisor of Elections at that time.

He retired from the civil service in 2013.

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