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RBC Wealth Management opens office in Camana Bay

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Royal Bank of Canada has opened a new office in Camana Bay. The new location on Forum Lane will house the operations for RBC Dominion Securities and RBC Private Banking.

“We are incredibly proud to be moving into the Camana Bay community,” said Andrew McCartney, managing director, RBC Dominion Securities, in a press release. “As one of the region’s leading financial and commercial hubs, Camana Bay offers world-class services and solutions for Cayman residents.”

“This investment in a new state-of-the-art office in one of the region’s leading financial and commercial hubs reinforces our commitment to the Cayman Islands. Camana Bay is uniquely positioned as the preeminent home for high-net-worth businesses and we are excited about what the future holds, both for RBC, and the wider Camana Bay community.”

McCartney said the move also puts the bank closer to many of its partners and clients.

“Now we can be even closer to the service providers with whom we work to help deliver the world-class service our clients have come to expect. In fact, many of our family office clients now happen to be our neighbours at Camana Bay.”

The move will consolidate RBC Dominion Securities and private banking employees from across Cayman into one location.

“RBC Royal Bank has a proud history in the Caribbean,” said Malynda Gibson-Nixon, country manager, Cayman Islands.

“With over 55 years of service to this community, our new office is a sign of our continued investment in the Cayman Islands. We are confident in the strength of this market and we are excited for what the future holds here.”

RBC Dominion Securities has more than 400,000 clients globally and $402 billion in assets under care.

Its new office in Camana Bay will have approximately 30 employees.

“Our team is very pleased to welcome RBC to the community of over 120 businesses that are based in Camana Bay,” said Jennifer Ebanks, Dart’s senior manager, Business Development.

The office opening comes during a period of development at Camana Bay, with the expansion of Cayman International School and the recent opening of Foster’s 60,000-square-foot supermarket. Camana Bay’s first for-sale residential offering, OLEA, is now under construction.

In the coming weeks, RBC will install an automated teller machine in Camana Bay to give all clients more access to banking services, the bank stated.

It is the third bank that will have a 24/7 ATM in Camana Bay, joining Cayman National and Scotiabank.

Butterfield Bank is expected to open a branch in the town centre early this year.

HSM interns gain work experience

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Natasha Whitelocke, HSM IP head paralegal, and HSM managing parter Huw Moses, seated in front of HSM interns, from left, Aaliyah Morris, Amaya Jackson, Nyanza Henry, Joshua Bent, Nahomy Bonilla-Zelaya, Sheyla Scott, Chrissy Stewart-Brown, Derique Powery and Toshonna Kelly.

The HSM Group is offering a legal internship for the 2019/20 academic year in partnership with the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC).

In September 2019, the law firm recruited 11 interns at the CIFEC Career Fair to provide experience across a wide range of practices, including immigration, debt collection, intellectual property and even areas outside of law, such as finance.

The team at HSM has welcomed Joshua Bent, Nahomy Bonilla-Zelaya, Derique Powery, Sheyla Scott, Rickhams Zuniga, Aaliyah Morris, Toshonna Kelly, Zara Hydes, Chrissy Stewart-Brown, Nyanza Henry and Amaya Jackson, according to a press release from the law firm.

Natasha Whitelocke, the firm’s head IP paralegal, coordinates the CIFEC Internship Programme on behalf of HSM. Together with HSM’s managing partner Huw Moses, she selected and paired interns with lawyers or experts at the company, who will monitor the student’s work and mentor their professionalism.

As part of the CIFEC curriculum, the internship runs until April 2019 and each student attends work twice a week during school hours. When the programme ends, HSM offers a select amount of summer jobs that will provide some students with a deeper work experience. HSM currently employs six CIFEC graduates full time.

“We remain committed and passionate about developing Cayman’s next generation of professionals,” Moses said in the release. “Whether they become lawyers or not, our team will also teach them the basic skills needed to excel in any industry they choose.”

HSM has worked with the CIFEC progamme since the firm’s inception in 2012.

Caymanian helicopter pilot gets first officer bars

Aspiring police helicopter pilot Darren McLean has received his first officer bars.

The auxiliary constable recently received the bars as part of his training and development as a helicopter pilot with National Helicopters in Trinidad, according to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

“This is a significant milestone for Darren,” an RCIPS statement said.

Commissioner of Police Derek Byrne, in the statement, said he was very proud of the training that McLean has done so far in Trinidad with National Helicopters.

He commended him for achieving his first officer status.

Caymanian pilot in training Darren McLean at the helicopter controls.

“[It] is a significant milestone in his professional development and training. He is a very fine ambassador for the RCIPS and the Cayman Islands,” Byrne said.

McLean returned to the Cayman Islands for Christmas break where he met up with his colleagues at the Air Operations Unit.

The RCIPS said McLean reported that he is excited about the challenges ahead and looks forward to completing his training and qualifications before returning to the Cayman Islands where he will transition to Flight Captain with the RCIPS Air Operations Unit.

He is expected to return to the RCIPS before the end of 2022.

McLean left Cayman to train in Trinidad last year to gain experience and hours as a pilot at National Helicopter Services Ltd. After he completes 3,000 hours of flight time, he will undergo H145 training. H145 is the model of helicopter in the RCIPS fleet.

Byrne said the CEO at National Helicopters has been complimentary of McLean’s commitment to the training environment and has commended him for receiving his first officer bars in such a short period of time.

“National Helicopters has reported that they are very pleased with Darren’s progress and that he is showing all the signs of becoming a fine pilot,” he added.

The CEO’s comments came as no surprise to Superintendent Brad Ebanks, who is in charge of Special Operations.

“Darren has always shown such ambition and potential. I had no doubt that he would make us proud here in the RCIPS and the Cayman Islands as a whole, given his aptitude and passion for flying. Darren has a great support team within the Air Operations Unit, and they follow his progress, as well as ensuring that he does well while away from home,” Ebanks said in the RCIPS statement

Six Cayman tour companies receive UK travel awards

The UK Travel and Hospitality Awards have named six Cayman companies in their annual honours.

Georgia Girl Charters was voted the Cayman Islands’ 2019 Fishing Company of the Year; Crazy Crab Private Boat Charters won Charter Company of the Year; ECO Rides Cayman were voted Cultural Tour Company of the Year; Deep Blue Divers Cayman Ltd. were given the award for Excellence in Service; Caytours won Tour Company of the Year; and Cayman Snorkel Company was honoured for Unique Experience.

Captain Derren Burlington, owner of Georgia Girl Charters, which he started in 2016, said, “It feels amazing to be recognised for doing an excellent job. I have always said, ‘If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.’ The entire crew feels the same way and we all put our heart and soul into creating a memorable guest experience.”

The process behind winning one of these awards starts by being nominated by Travel and Hospitality magazine’s subscribers, travel journalists and bloggers, and industry experts, according to the publication’s website. Final decisions are confirmed by the magazine’s awards directors and managers, who also act as the judging panel.

Woman held at knifepoint

Police arrested a man suspected of abducting a woman at knifepoint on Thursday in West Bay.

The RCIPS said the officers responded to a report of an assault at a location in the Morgans Harbour area.

The woman had left work at another location when she was approached by a man known to her, who threatened her with a knife and forced her to leave in his vehicle, police said.

He drove her to Morgans Harbour where she exited the vehicle and was helped by a member of the public.

“A struggle ensued, during which she was struck in the head and the man damaged the window of another vehicle at the location. The man then fled the location in his vehicle,” the police said.

A 21-year-old man, of West Bay, was subsequently arrested and charged with abduction, assault ABH, threats to kill, damage to property and carrying an offensive weapon. He appeared in court Tuesday.

Iguana cullers reminded to renew firearms licences

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s Security and Firearms Licensing Unit is reminding the public that the special firearms licences issued to cullers registered with the 2018-2019 green iguana cull project have expired and need to be renewed.

Iguana cullers who held these licences are no longer permitted to use air rifles in residential areas or within 40 yards of a public road, police said.

“These special firearms licences, which are issued in addition to the standard firearms licence, will not be renewed until cullers have re-registered with the Department of Environment for the 2020 Cull,” the RCIPS said in a statement.

Cullers who want to renew the licences should visit the Security and Firearms Licensing Unit in Windjammer Plaza, police said. Otherwise, owners who only plan to cull on their own property, and not within 40 yards of a public road, can continue to use air rifles under the standard conditions of their existing firearms licence.

“We advise all firearms licence holders to review these conditions to ensure compliance with their licences,” said Inspector Gerald Joseph, who heads the unit. “Breaching these conditions will result in having your firearm seized and your licence revoked.”

Last year, cullers killed more than one million iguanas in the nationwide effort to rid the islands of the invasive species.

Mental Health Symposium date announced

The Alex Panton Foundation has announced its 3rd annual Youth Mental Health Symposium will take place on 22 Feb. at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.

The symposium, which is free to attend, will include in its four-hour agenda the importance of equipping the country’s youth with the tools to recognise peers struggling with mental health issues and how to help, the organisation stated in a press release.

The event will feature local and international speakers, panels and an exhibition area with a variety of relevant products and services of interest to those in the mental health community.

Jane Panton, chairperson of the Alex Panton Foundation, said that last year’s symposium attracted around 300 people.

“It’s important that not only the adults in our community know the language and tools to address mental health concerns but also our young people,” Panton said. “This way we are not only helping our children and young adults but also empowering them to help themselves and their peers in hopes of creating a ripple effect of mental wellness throughout the community.”

Panton said the works of the Youth Ambassador Programme launched last August will be explained by a panel of three youth ambassadors at the event.

To register or for more information on the event, visit alexpantonfoundation.ky.

Miss Gwen: Matriarch of Cayman seafarers

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Behind every great man is a great woman.

The phrase was never so true as in the case of Miss Gwendolyn Lily Bush, who in fact was the great woman behind thousands of great Caymanian seamen.

Bush was assistant to A. Colin Panton, owner of Pan Carib Agencies. Panton had adopted his late father’s company in 1956 and was agent for National Bulk Carriers in New York; Papachristidis, based in Montreal; Esso of Canada; and Bernuth Lembcke, helping provide berths with these companies for Caymanian seamen.

The personnel department of National Bulk Carriers, owned by Daniel K. Ludwig, would telegraph their requirements to the Government Telegraph Office in Cayman that would be delivered to Panton’s office.

“Ludwig, like so many others, had learned of the excellent reputation of the Cayman Islands seamen,” Panton told the Cayman Compass.

“Gwen would study the names of who was ‘called’. She invariably knew them and where they lived. It was very easy to get the word to them,” he explained.

This clip from the 20 Oct. 1965 Caymanian Weekly highlights one of the many ‘calls’ to sea. Click to enlarge.

There were usually one or two men sitting around expecting to get their call and the names of those called travelled like wildfire to every district. Capt. Keith Tibbetts was the agent in Cayman Brac and, when necessary, his men were overnighted in a guest house in George Town arranged by Bush.

“Gwen made sure that passports and all necessary documents were in order,” Panton said.

“She was a fast and accurate typist.”

Seafaring was an industry that allowed Cayman to grow economically, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. The earnings from seafaring jobs fed families, built houses and started businesses, and Bush was the humble facilitator of much of this success.

A single mother, raising two children on her own, she never owned a passport, or left Cayman’s fair shores. She did not own a car, cycled to work and also did not have a college education; far from it, in fact.

“My mother, like most Caymanians [at the time], went to school for three years and studied everything from three books, aptly named Book 1, Book 2, and Book 3. After that, if your family could afford it, you might be sent to Jamaica for further education, otherwise you made your way as best you could with three years of education behind you,” explained Bush’s son John Bodden.

“My mother had a thirst for knowledge and would read anything that she could lay her hands on. She always encouraged everyone to take every opportunity to get more education, often citing it as one of the few things that nobody would ever be able to take away from you.”

A. Colin Panton, age 18

Despite her lack of formal education and travel experience, it was due to the work of Panton and Bush that Caymanian seafarers reached ports in the far corners of the world.

“She was a kind and loving person,” said Panton, who noted that she never missed a single day at work. “Regrettably, there were occasions when we had to deliver the sad news to the family of the death of a loved one while at sea. I could not do this alone and she was my rock … I do not hesitate to repeat again that I loved her as a sister.”

Family links to the sea

While not a seafarer herself, the profession, and fortitude that accompanies it, was in her blood.

“She came from a long line of sea captains, which instilled a certain resilience and survival instinct that was handed down from one generation to the next. Gwen’s grandfather built the house which is now called Lassie’s Minds Eye at the junction of Walkers Road and South Church Street, which is where her father was born, and that area was where the family built and sailed schooners from for many generations,” explained Bodden.

“In 1932 when Gwen was 12 years old, a hurricane destroyed all of the family’s schooners and the storm surge washed away the house that she was living in in Red Bay. She was able to escape in the middle of the night with the rest of her family to safety down towards Crewe Road, but it wasn’t until the 1960s before anyone ever considered building in Red Bay again,” Bodden said. “She came from a time when everyone’s life was inextricably linked to the sea, and I suppose she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, but everyone knew the sea as a good servant but bad master.”

Miss Gwen and Garlon Jackson

Miss Gwen’s ‘boys’

At any given time, there were hundreds of Caymanians at sea, and to Miss Gwen they were all ‘her boys’.

“She called them her ‘boys’ because most of them were mere boys of around 16 years of age going to sea on oil tankers as their first job,” Bodden said. “In the early days, i.e. 1950s, many of them were seasoned sailors, having gone to work on Cayman schooners in the turtling industry, sometimes as young as 11 or 12 years old, depending on their size.”

Miss Gwen would see off groups of her boys from the airport as they departed for Miami or further.

“LACSA, a Costa Rican airline, was used in those days,” Panton recalled. “Gwen never failed to see her ‘boys’ off, whether one or 20, as I recall was the number on one occasion.”

Darwin Ebanks, who first went to sea in the 60s when he was a teenager, remembers Bush as “very open, but also very private” woman. “It is my opinion, and the opinion of just about all other seafarers, that Miss Gwen deserves to be made a national hero.”

Miss Gwen’s boys did their best to take care of her, often sending her contributions and building her two homes. Their final act of thanks for her hard work was when the Cayman Islands Seafarers Association pulled together to purchase a marble slab and headstone for her grave with the inscription, “She was a Seafarer at Heart.”

Her impact will surely be felt by generations of future maritime workers, as the Ministry of Education, along with the Cayman Islands Seafarers Association and Cayman Maritime Heritage Foundation created the Gwen Bush Memorial Scholarship to promote careers in the boat-building trade and other maritime careers.

The Southwell Years

The book ‘The Southwell Years: Recollections of Caymanian Seamen and Those Who Served at Home’ is filled with mentions of this great woman. Linford A Pierson referred to her as the “mother of all the boys who sailed with National Bulk Carriers during those Southwell days”, and Will Jackson said she was the “sweetheart of the seaman”.

‘The Southwell Years’ details her ability to get men ready to board a ship within six hours of an appeal for seamen to head out – an impressive feat in a time with no telephones, and when families would need to pack the man’s belongings for a long journey at sea. Miss Gwen would type up letters of introduction, complete immigration forms and even sign names, as many seamen could not read or write.

“I will do all that I possibly can to make it as easy as I can for them to get to the ship. Once on the ship, I know that I don’t have to worry about them,” she is quoted in the book as saying.

Scholars ISC lose to rival Elite SC in league’s round 7

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Elite FC laid waste to their neighbours Scholars ISC during their derby encounter in Round 7 of the Cayman Islands Football Association League on Sunday. The game saw Elite FC hand Scholars their second consecutive loss in the league after a 4-1 win at the Ed Bush field in West Bay.

Scholars opened the scoring with a goal in the 19th minute from Kimani Finn. Elite’s Christopher Reeves answered back with a free kick and, just before half-time, teammate Jah Dain Alexander got a through ball for a breakaway that looked promising before Scholars defender Oneil Taylor slide-tackled Alexander in the penalty box, which the referee did not hesitate to point to the spot. Reeves stepped up to take the shot and put the ball in the back of the net, for a 2-1 lead heading into the second half.

In the second half, Scholars came out firing with seven shots on target, but Elite’s goalkeeper Albertini Holness saved them all. In the 65th minute, things got heated between the rivals after Reeves engaged with Scholars’ Kevin Foster. Foster retaliated with what appeared to be a headbutt, leading to both players to receive yellow cards. However, a free kick was given following the incident in favour of Elite, leading to Elite’s Cody Ebanks scoring in the 66th minute. In the 80th minute, team captain Jason Ebanks scored, ending the game 4-1.

“The key thing we had planned was to sit back and let them play the ball and wait for them to lose it so we can capitalise on that and counter-attack them, and that’s what we did,” said Ebanks. “The first goal they scored, we thought it was off-side so it kind of let us down, but we kept our heads up and each goal we scored kept us going even more, you know, and it felt good to contribute. It was my first goal in years.”

With Scholars losing, teams like Latinos FC and Academy SC lurk to claim second place on the league table, but Scholars coach Mark Beckford is more focussed on leaders Bodden Town FC making a mistake.

“Bodden Town is doing very good but, you never know, they may slip. It’s football. We lost two and they can do the same.” – Scholars ISC coach Mark Beckford.

“It’s obviously disappointing,” said Beckford. “We came out to win. We only had a week and a half to prepare coming off of the festive season, so I guess the players weren’t ready for the task today. If the stars are aligned that we should have some luck, Bodden Town is doing very good but, you never know, they may slip. It’s football. We lost two and they can do the same. So, we’ll see what happens in the end.”

While Elite SC vs Scholars ISC was the highlight of the CIFA league Round 7 fixtures, at the Annex, Bodden Town FC continued their dominance after defeating Roma USC 1-2 to maintain first place in the league. Bodden Town’s Jonathan Ebanks shocked the Roma fans with a goal in the first minute of the game. That was followed by a goal from Martin Cruz in the 43rd minute to end the first half 0-2. Roma’s Alex Thompson managed to squeeze a goal in at the 88th minute, The game ended 2-1.

Academy SC won 2-1 in their match against East End UFC to move up the table. Academy’s Jimal Lawson scored in the 32nd minute, followed by a goal from teammate Sullivan Zelaya in 36th minute, finishing the first half 2-0. East End’s DeAndre Bodden answered back with goal in added time to end the game 2-1.

Other games
North Side continue their losing ways after a 2-1 loss to Future SC. George Town SC walked away with a 1-0 victory over Alliance. Sunset FC drew with Latinos FC 0-0.

 

Fighting crime in the digital age

As criminals get more sophisticated in their approach to breaking laws, those in the criminal justice system have to up their game to catch them.

At the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, newly confirmed DPP Patrick Moran is leading the charge to help make that happen.

“I hope not only to secure more lawyers, but also to secure more training for our lawyers on top of that,” Moran said as he sat down the Cayman Compass recently to discuss his plans.

He was confirmed as DPP late November after serving as deputy DPP from 2015 to 2018, and then acting DPP from 2018 until his confirmation.

Focus on training

Moran said his focus will be on training his team and equipping law enforcement with investigatory tools to uphold justice in the courts.

“Last year, our lawyers attended numerous training sessions particularly relating to financial crime, money laundering, and terrorist financing. We have a very strong focus on that right now,” he explained.

He said criminals are becoming more sophisticated and, as a result, law enforcement has to become more sophisticated.

“Cases are becoming more complicated, and the volume of evidence is becoming bigger – particularly digital evidence. The overseas territories digital hub opened here and we should be so proud to have it on island. That is likely to generate higher volumes of digital evidence, which itself requires broader skill sets for investigators and prosecutors,” Moran said.

The digital hub, which opened last month, is a project that is co-funded by the United Kingdom National Crime Agency, and will be used to help safeguard children from child sexual abuse and exploitation, as well as to combat various other forms of cybercrime, which are not restricted by borders.

Moran said the hub will be an asset for investigators, but it also brings with it a bigger caseload.

“Crime is becoming more complex. Even simple crimes can have a digital context, which can lead to an increase in the size of our files. I hope very much that the recent increase to our budget will stand us in good stead as we move on to fighting more sophisticated crime,” he said.

A total of $6.8 million has been allocated to the DPP’s office over the next two-year budget cycle for prosecutions and victim support.

Moran said the resources will be used to enhance the office’s abilities and recruit more lawyers to help with the workload which he said is increasing.

“Another thing that people may not realise is that the regular workload doesn’t go away; simple matters like a drug-dealing case or a case involving violence, that is a constant, but what is increasing is the complexity of some of our cases, especially those involving multiple defendants, or financial crime cases,” he said.

More than prosecuting

Projected stats for 2020 for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Moran said a key part of his office’s function focusses on training of new police officers, as well as other investigative agencies, which at times can be a strain on his limited personnel.

At present, the office has 25 permanent members of staff, 16 of whom are qualified lawyers.

“We are the sole prosecutor on the island, and so we do a lot of behind the scenes. We’re trying to assist law-enforcement agencies from the investigation stage and they’re a lot more enforcement agencies than just the police,” he said.

He said the team tries to get involved at an early stage of investigations as well, so that the quality of case work and investigations is enhanced.

“We are doing a huge amount of work in the fight against international money laundering, and other forms of financial crime, such as terrorist financing and proliferation financing.

Several members of our team sit on various working groups to enhance our ability to ensure that dirty money does not wash through these islands,” he said. “That’s a huge responsibility. Some of our team also sit on international working groups dealing with financial crime. What we do at our office is much more than what can be seen in court.”

Managing public perceptions

Moran said the role of a prosecutor is not an easy one, but it is a necessary one, as it is needed to ensure justice prevails.

He said he suspects people may not see prosecutors as human beings because of the effects of prosecution, but he assures the impact of the job they do is very real to them.

“If a case results in a conviction, that’s not a source of pleasure, and there is no celebration in this office. A conviction simply shows that the criminal justice system is working as it should. That is a relief, not a success,” he said.

Those at the office, he said, are not measured by success, but by playing a part in the criminal justice system which should work as expected.

“We are dealing with people who have done some very bad things. We deal with people when they’re at their worst, and we deal with people when they are at their weakest. We see a very different side of life, a side which most people are fortunate not to know,” he added.

Attorney: Amended port vote question more neutral

Government’s amended port referendum question is a welcome change for the team behind the legal action challenging the vote on the $200 million project.

However, attorney Kate McClymont said the new wording still does not address the issue of separation of cruise berthing from cargo port.

“The new wording of the question is more neutral than it was before, which is one of the things sought by our client in the judicial review challenge. Critically, though, the new wording still conflates two discrete issues, being the cargo port and the cruise berthing port,” she said in a statement to the Cayman Compass over the weekend.

The issue is one of the main points of contention raised by Cruise Port Referendum member Shirley Roulstone in her judicial review case contesting the government’s handling of the referendum. McClymont is representing Roulstone in that case.

The original referendum question approved in the Legislative Assembly stated, “Should the Cayman Islands continue to move forward with building the cruise berthing and enhanced cargo port facility?”

The amended version says, “Should the Cayman Islands continue to proceed with building the cruise berthing and enlarged and refurbished cargo port facility?” The amendment was made in the referendum regulations and was a Cabinet decision, according to an Office of the Premier statement last week.

McClymont said a number of key issues remain in relation to the amended referendum question.

“This concession addresses part of Ms. Roulstone’s claim, just as the stay of the referendum has; however, there are still live issues to be addressed by the court, including whether there should be campaign financing restrictions in the referendum legislation to address the inequality of resources available to either side of this debate, for campaigning purposes,” she said.

The attorney also maintained that cruise berthing and cargo are different aspects of the project and should not be intertwined.

“These two issues can and should be considered separately as different considerations apply. In addition, the petition that triggered the people-initiated referendum related only to the proposed cruise berthing facility, not the cargo port,” she said.

CPR member Shirley Roulstone was granted leave for judicial review of the referendum last month.

The court delayed the referendum, which had been set for 19 Dec. 2019.

The judicial review trial is scheduled for 22-24 Jan.

Apart from the referendum question itself, Roulstone’s judicial review queries the timing of the poll since it excluded 220 newly registered voters, the lack of campaign financing rules or restrictions, and the allowances that were made for the sale of alcohol on Referendum Day.

Last week, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie granted Roulstone a protective costs order which shields her from having to pay government’s legal costs should her court action fail.

Generator faults lead to power outages for 25,000 customers

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Faults in the control systems of three major generating units at the Caribbean Utilities Company’s North Sound plant led to Sunday’s widespread power outage, CUC stated Monday.

The electricity company said that power was lost to more than 25,000 customers in West Bay, George Town, South Sound, Prospect, Savannah, Bodden Town, North Side and East End.

The power outages occurred between 4:50pm and 7:26pm, with customers experiencing power failures that lasted between seven minutes to 2 hours, 36 minutes, CUC stated.

“Interim measures and system upgrades are in progress to reduce the likelihood of similar outages reoccurring. Large outages such as these are rare. However, from time to time they can occur on a small island power system,” CUC said.

The company said it continues “to install and maintain modern and efficient generating systems to ensure CUC’s customers experience the highest level of reliability in the region and has a Reliability 2.0 programme which is aimed at reaching North American levels of reliability”.

According to CUC, it has scheduled four major reliability projects, which are expected to be completed by the end of this year. These include “increased black start generating capacity”, meaning a generating station that can self-start without requiring power from the grid.

The projects also include an upgrade of the control centre at the North Sound Road plant, a new distribution substation on the West Bay Road and a new replacement distribution substation in the Prospect Area, “all of which are intended to provide additional capacity and reliability to our customers,” CUC said.

On the run for Dog Jog

Pet owners and dog walkers brought along their canine friends to take part in the second annual Dog Jog at Safehaven Drive on Sunday morning to raise funds for animal charity One Dog At A Time.

The charity’s Paula Wythe said the event raised $1,725, which will go towards paying January’s veterinary bills.

In all, 68 adults participant, “plus some younger children and lots of dogs,” she said.

One Dog At A Time is a foster-based dog rescue group which rescues and rehomes unwanted dogs and pups from the streets and from the Department Of Agriculture pound.

Cayman needs national disaster plan

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I write once more to make a plea for our government to up the ante and seriously embark on a practical (even if in phases) national disaster plan. I make this appeal based on what is happening regionally and worldwide due to climate change.

In Puerto Rico, for example, the island has not even begun to recover from hurricane damage and yet is now confronted by challenges of recovery from a disastrous earthquake. In Australia, a prosperous country prior to the bush fires, hundreds of farmers face bankruptcy as a result of farms lost in fire.

These are but two glaring examples of what can happen due to climate change.

In these islands, rising sea levels, pollution from a proliferation of automobiles, rising sea levels, destruction of the mangroves from greed through ever-increasing building of expensive apartments for the rich and now, most ridiculously, the development of a regiment to assist in times of disaster.

I propose the establishment of at least one hurricane-resistant shelter in each district.
The establishment of civilian defence units trained to international (Red Cross) standards

A rapid response team of medical experts, psychologists, counsellors, etc., in case of large-scale national disaster.

Now is the appropriate time to begin such action, especially as our finances can sustain such an investment. Delay is dangerous and only fools believe that we can “dodge a bullet” every hurricane season.

J. A. Roy Bodden

Garden Club to hold Family Fun Day

The Garden Club of Grand Cayman will hold its annual Family Fun Day at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park on Sunday, 26 Jan.

From 10am to 3pm, there will be a host of activities for the whole family, including craft-making, games, live music and a magic show.

Organised each year by the Garden Club, the aim is to encourage residents to visit and experience the Botanic Park’s offerings, while raising funds for and increasing awareness of the Children’s Garden, which is currently under development at the park.

Raffle tickets, food, drinks, treats and plants will also be on sale.

Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for children under 12.

For more information on the event, contact park manager John Lawrus at [email protected], Tourism Attractions Board marketing coordinator Mona Meade at [email protected] or Garden Club member Jill Wood at [email protected]

115 swimmers hit the waves at annual CUC sea swim

Female winner Elana Sinclair and overall winner Jake Bailey. Photo: Seaford Russell Jr.

More than 100 swimmers took to the water at the 31st annual CUC Sea Swim on Saturday afternoon. The swim saw people of all ages and backgrounds compete alongside athletes from some of Cayman’s swim clubs.

The 800-metre sea swim saw 93 swimmers take part, while 22 swimmers participated in the 400-metre swim. Both events were open to everyone. Previous winners continued their winning ways, such as Elana Sinclair who took gold in the female category again this year. She won the category in the previous two years.

“The water was really great out there. It was very clear, very calm. I thought it was a good race,” Sinclair said. “I kind of stuck with a couple of girls in the beginning and paced off of them for most of it, until the last stretch, and then I started giving it my all, and sprinted into the finish.”

The overall winner this year was Jake Bailey, who came second in last year’s CUC Sea Swim, when he was outpaced by Alex Dakers. Bailey said, while the competition was tough this year, his strategy was the key to victory.

“It was pretty good, the start with the boys; we all went out at quite a good pace and kept it up for most of the rest and finished strong,” he said. “[There were] quite a few people with me, which was great competition.”

The top 10 finishers at Saturday’s CUC Sea Swim line up after crossing the finish line. Photo: Alvaro Serey

Both Bailey and Sinclair have represented Cayman internationally, and they are looking to continue their momentum following Saturday’s sea swim.“This season, I’m trying to bring it up to a higher level and I’ll be trying to do a 5K and, hopefully, in the future, I’ll try to make it to an Olympic level, if I can,” said Bailey.

Sinclair said, “I’m hoping to do more international open water events. I’m looking to do a 10K in the states later in April or March and, hopefully, I’ll do the 5K at CCCAN (Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation) later in the summer.”

OVERALLSWIMMERTIME
1JAKE BAILEY10:32
2WILL SELLARS10:39
3ELANA SINCLAIR10:44

 

Disabled drone found next to airport runway

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The Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands has issued a warning about the use of drones near the airport after a disabled drone was found last week beside the runway of the Owen Roberts International Airport.

According to a statement from the CAACI, there has been an increasing number of sightings of drones reported in the vicinity of the airport. On Thursday, the disabled drone was found inside the perimeter of the airport “very near to the runway”.

The authority said the drone’s operation “in such close proximity to arriving and departing aircraft is both illegal and extremely irresponsible”.

Anyone convicted of flying a drone illegally near an airport in the Cayman Islands faces a maximum of a two-year prison sentence, a $5,000 fine, or both.

The CAACI is reminding the public, in the interests of aviation safety, that it is prohibited to fly any form of unmanned aircraft within three nautical miles of Owen Roberts, Charles Kirkconnell International Airport on Cayman Brac and the Edward Bodden Airfield on Little Cayman.

“This prohibition is in place to protect arriving and departing aircraft during the critical stages of their flight when a collision with, or the ingestion of, a foreign object has the potential for very serious consequences,” the CAACI said.

According to Article 176 of the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2013, “A person must not recklessly or negligently act in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in the aircraft.”

The use of drones is also prohibited within one mile of Northward Prison.

Alastair Robertson, CAACI’s director of Air Navigation Services, told the Cayman Compass in an email that, so far, it had not been necessary to divert or delay any aircraft locally due to drone activity.

He said that, while there had been several reported sightings of drones near the airport in recent weeks, “it is not possible to confirm the actual number as all but one are anecdotal rather than supported by ‘hard’ evidence”.

He added, “However, the one confirmed by CIAA personnel, together with the drone found on the airfield and a previous incident where footage of a drone operating on the airfield at ORIA was posted on social media, is more than sufficient evidence to suggest that a risk exists.”

Drones have caused problems for other airports internationally. For example, sightings of drones near London’s Gatwick Airport in London closed that airport for two days in 2018, when up to 1,000 flights were cancelled.

Robertson said that where there is sufficient information available, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service are notified about illegal drone activity and “have taken action on previous occasions”.

Cayman currently has no drone registration programme in place, he said, but added that consideration is being given to establishing one here.

Meanwhile, the CAACI is urging members of the public who see any drone activity near Cayman’s airports to report it to the Airport Operation Command Centre on 244-5835.

From consumption to conservation: Turtles still crucial to Cayman’s economy

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Sea turtles continue to play a key role in the Cayman Islands economy. But the iconic sea creatures have become more valuable alive than dead.

While past generations of Caymanians relied on turtling for food and as a source of income, modern-day islanders are seeking to preserve and restore turtle populations.

“The value of our reef systems and the animals that live there has gone up by 10 times in terms of sustainable use through viewing opportunities,” said artist and conservationist Guy Harvey.

“That’s true for many animals. You can put a dollar value on individual rays, sharks and even turtles and it is many times higher for snorkelling, diving and photographing than it is for consumption.”

Catching turtles made sense when Caymanians were eking out a subsistence living from the sea, but Harvey believes the island’s economic future is in sustainable tourism.

Even continuing to farm and eat turtle risks Cayman’s reputation as an eco-conscious dive destination, he warned.

“Consuming turtles is no longer in vogue. They have become cuddly. For us to still be raising turtles for consumption is an antiquated position to take. I believe we should be focussing more on the replenishment programmes and I think there would be more money in that.”

Darwin studies

Two recent studies funded by the UK Darwin Initiative have bolstered the Cayman Turtle Centre’s credibility somewhat. In one survey, almost half of the people who consumed meat from the turtle farm said they would be willing to eat poached turtles if the farm did not exist. The second report, based on DNA testing, showed that the revival of nesting sea turtles in Cayman was linked directly to historic releases of captive hatchlings by the turtle centre.

In an interview with the Cayman Compass last year, Tim Adam, CEO of the centre, suggested the facility, as well as the country, was on a journey from consumption to conservation. But he said eating turtle was an important part of Caymanian heritage for many and it would take time to make the transition.

“The reason we still produce turtle meat is for the conservation value. We sell it at a subsidised rate and that helps prevent poaching,” he said.

A protected species

The National Conservation Council recently published the first species conservation plan for sea turtle in the Cayman Islands.

The plan aims to protect and preserve turtles, which are a threatened species internationally, in Cayman’s waters,

Council chairman McFarlane Connolly said, “This proposal represents the most comprehensive effort to conserve and repopulate our iconic sea turtles in the Cayman Islands to date.

“(We) believe the plan contains realistic measures and goals that will help ensure future generations of Caymanians, residents and visitors can enjoy sharing the sea and the beach with these magnificent marine reptiles.”

Sound conservation policy is also smart economic policy in a time when eco-tourism is in vogue.

Turtles, grouper, sharks and other iconic species can be sold many more times to divers and snorkellers than they can to diners, added Harvey.

“What really makes a dive for me is to see a grouper, a moray eel or a turtle. We are lucky to have the marine life that we do,” he said.

“The value of a single grouper in the wild can be as much as $15,000 to the dive and snorkelling industry. Why would you want to catch it and get $50?”

A sustainable future

The key to Cayman’s economic past may lie, at least in part, in exploitation of the marine resources, but many believe its future relies on preserving and restoring those same resources.

Linda Clark, of non-profit Sustainable Cayman, said turtles faced a diverse portfolio of risks.

“Threats to all marine life, including turtles, are increasing due to human impacts caused by factors such as overfishing, bycatch, ghost nets, plastic pollution, ocean acidification, changing ocean currents and temperatures, boat strikes and loss of habitat due to coastal development. Even tourist encounters with wild turtles can create a stress for the animal, altering its daily feeding or resting cycles if intentionally chased or unintentionally harassed,” she said.

“The continued survival of turtle populations will require decision making to be science-based, focussed on risk assessment, public consultation and use adaptive management techniques. Governments around the world are embracing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, embedding the framework into local policy while encouraging private companies and citizens to work together to create a long-term equitable future for all.”

She said the commitment to sustainable development, particularly below the water, was crucial for small islands like Cayman.

The old men and the sea turtles

Clinton Whittaker stood on the bow of the catboat as it surged and plummeted on steep ocean swells. The main sail had been damaged in the foul weather and the three-man crew was manoeuvring the small vessel on just the jib.

Whittaker was following the orders of the captain – a man named Green – to scour the horizon for some sign of the reef’s breaking to the east.

He wasn’t happy about it.

“I said, Green, how the hell do you expect me to see the eastern reef breaking? You are going the wrong way,” he said, traces of frustration returning to his features as he recalled the tale.

The men were rangers, part of a large fleet of Caymanian turtlers scattered across a vast network of mangrove islands and sandbars off the coast of Nicaragua.

The catboat had left the relative security of Dead Man Bar, where two days earlier they had made rustic huts from banana and silver thatch leaves carried from Grand Cayman.

“We were lost, there was no two ways about it,” Whittaker recalled.

“I tried to tell the captain, but he was strongheaded – that’s what we used to call it. He wouldn’t listen.”

By the time this truth settled in, the weather had worsened significantly and they were out of sight of land. They would learn later that a Caymanian cargo ship, the Antaris, had been forced to ditch two cars in the ocean en route to Florida, in order to stay afloat. Another catboat carrying two Cayman rangers was lost at sea in the same storm.

Whittaker had better luck.

“We came across a red mangrove tree spring up on a shallow spot and we tied on to that till Thursday morning,” he said.

“We went on sailing, sailing – didn’t know where we were going.”

Late in the afternoon of the third day, they saw another boat and decided to follow it, playing a hunch that it was headed for land.

Tacking back and forth in its wake, they finally sighted the distinctive green mangrove islands of the Miskito Cays.

Whittaker was in his 20s at the time. He is 92 now, but tears still come to his eyes as he recalls the sight of three famous Cayman schooners, the Adam, the Goldfield and the Jemsons.

“They had all ran from the weather and were tied up there in the bight. We were so lucky.”

The men had a cup of coffee and passed the time with their fellow Caymanian turtlers as the last of the storm blew out.

When they returned to their camp, the sandbar had twisted 90 degrees in the storm, but their hut was still standing.

Las Tortugas

By the time Whittaker and his generation were ranging on the Central American coast in the 1950s, declining prey and increasing environmental regulation were taking their toll on an industry that had helped sustain Cayman for a century or more. The sea turtles of the Caribbean had provided sustenance for mariners for much longer. Since Christopher Columbus first sighted the islands in 1503 and christened them Las Tortugas, European sailors had used the islands as important provisioning grounds. Turtles were easy to catch and could be kept alive on deck for weeks at a time, providing a valuable source of food for roving seafarers.

“The tortoise’s flesh is good meat and is like unto beef both in tast and shew [sic],” noted Captain Walter Bigges in his account of legendary British explorer Sir Francis Drake’s voyage to the West Indies in 1589.

“In the islandes of Caimanes we killed a hundred in two nights.”

Such exploitation took its toll and by the time the first permanent settlers arrived in Grand Cayman in the early 18th century, the turtle fishery was already in decline. The first Caymanians were forced to forage for turtle off Cuba and later went as far afield as Central America.

20th century rangers

By the 20th century, a well-honed routine was established. Large schooners, like the Adam and the Goldfield, would carry crews of young men and several catboats to the Miskito Cays.

The rangers would spend seven or eight weeks living on small mangrove islands or sandbars. They would set nets overnight on the spots where t he turtles were known to sleep.

In the morning, they would venture out in their catboats to collect what prey had swum into their trap.

They kept the turtles in pens made from wooden poles, known as kraals. Periodically, the larger boats – many of them converted to engine power by this time – would come and collect the catch.

It was a rugged existence, but Whittaker remembers it fondly.

“It was lonely, but you had your hammock hanging up in the shade there where you could go up and sleep and, in the daytime, you know, you are fishing. It was all right. You had to enjoy that because that’s how you made your money.”

Sometimes the rangers would catch 50 or 60 turtle on a two-month voyage. Sometimes 200.

“It just depends if you were lucky,” Whittaker remembered.

Turtling in the blood

Captain Paul Hurlston, one of the most decorated Caymanian seamen of his generation, started his career on a turtling crew at age 14. At the time, the long, often-dangerous voyage to the Central American coast was the only option for young men to make a living.

“You wouldn’t believe this is the same Cayman,” he said.

“There was absolutely nothing to do, no work. Everyone at my age went to sea. We had no industry – anything you could make a shilling off, that’s what you did.”

For Hurlston, turtling was in the blood. His grandfather Charles Bush was known as one of the best turtle pilots in Cayman.

“He was the most disagreeable man but he was honest,” he said.

“If you made the voyage with him, you would receive what you made.”

That was not always the case. Some captains or boat owners would shortchange the crew on their share of the catch and disputes were common. Many of the boat owners also owned stores back in Cayman and the crew would get credit for provisions for themselves and their families.

“The difference between what you earn and what you owe, they give you in cash,” Hurlston said.

“They always used to mark up a little bit more.”

A few turtles were butchered for the local market, but most went to the US or to the UK via Jamaica.

Hurlston made just one voyage with the turtle fleet before he decided the merchant marine was a steadier prospect.

“I was paid $80 a month working on the banana boats, which was good money for Cayman at the time. Turtling, you just didn’t know if you were going to catch anything or not,” he said.

Whittaker made five or six trips to the Miskito Cays, but stayed involved with the turtling industry. He served as one of the butchers at a turtle-canning factory that operated on the site of what is now the Caribbean Utilities Company.

Later, as the industry declined, he joined the line of Caymanian seamen travelling to the southern US to work the cargo boats there.

Carrying on the tradition

Naul Bodden was a boy on Cayman Brac during the last days of the turtling industry. He remembers the welcome the famous Brac schooner the Jemsons would receive when it returned to the island after months at sea.

Families would put their requests in for 10 pounds, 15 pounds, whatever they could afford. When there were enough orders, they would butcher the turtle right there on the dock.

“We used to have a hell of a time fishing for sharks,” Bodden said.

“The whole barcadere would turn red and sharks would come in by the dozens – you could take a club and lick one.”

Bodden, one of the first accountants in Cayman and the founder and president of NCB Group, comes from a family of turtlers. His grandfather was lost at sea on a turtle expedition during the 1932 hurricane.

His father, who was 15 at the time, was out on a different boat during the same storm.

“Their ships passed and they waved to each other, but communication was bad. They didn’t know a hurricane was coming.”

Hunters

Even as turtling declined in the 1970s and beyond, a small local fishery was maintained. The Department of Environment operated a seasonal licensing system similar to what exists now for conch and lobster. A handful of older turtlers still officially have permission to hunt, though no turtle have been legally caught locally in recent years.

Bodden gave up his licence as regulations increased and the tradition began to wane. He recognises there can be no turning back, but feels a part of Cayman’s heritage has been lost as turtling has died out.

“I miss being able to go out,” he acknowledged.

He said he and his friends would scour the reefs for turtle in a small motorboat. They would track them, often for hours at a time, using snorkel and mask instead of rowing in a catboat like their forefathers.

“We would follow the turtle, swimming above him … if he stops and lies on the bottom, you drop the net down on him and he’s a goner.”

A lost tradition

For Caymanians, he believes, hunting turtle is part of the national identity.

Harvesting the animals is how generations of Caymanians survived in a time of subsistence living.

“It is a tradition which none of our kids will ever experience, and it is so exciting, like going through a forest and hunting a deer.

“My son is 22 and I will never be able to teach him to hunt turtle or to spear fish. Environmental laws are such that you can’t.”

He believes there is a case to be made for generational Caymanians to be allowed to hunt.

“It is very similar to the Eskimos or the Indians. You grow up with those traditions and, all of a sudden, everything changes and those traditions disappear.

“It is the way it is and I can accept not doing it any longer, but it is a lost tradition.”

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