Boat found, men and boys still missing

| 07/03/2016 | 63 Comments
Cayman News Service

Boat missing off Grand Cayman, last seen Sunday afternoon, 6 March 2016

(CNS): The 28-foot fishing boat that was lost at sea Sunday evening has been found capsized by search and rescue teams but there is no sign of the two boys and three men who were on board. The Panga boat, which police said was not carrying life vests, was located about 11am Monday about 20 miles southwest of Grand Cayman. The search for the missing men and boys continued but there was still no sign of them by 3pm. The RCIPS said the decision not to search last night was down to the rough sea conditions and the very wide area where the boat might have drifted.

Police said they were not informed about the missing boat and its five passengers until around midnight. When it was last been seen by another fisherman between 3:00pm and 4:00pm on Sunday near 12 Mile Bank, the water had already become choppy and the vessel appeared to be in trouble as it had only one engine working.

Explaining why the rescue operation did not begin immediately, a spokesperson for the RCIPS said, “Given the description of the boat’s location as being near 12 Mile Bank at approximately 3pm or thereafter, the potential drift pattern of the boat was assessed to be within 20-30 miles of that location. The Air Support Unit determined that a search and rescue could not be undertaken across this wide area in the middle of the night with only one pilot available, and that to do so would endanger both pilot and crew. The Joint Marine Unit also assessed that due to rough seas and no air support, police marine vessels could not be deployed until the morning.”

The Air Support Unit helicopter headed out at 8:30am Monday to begin the search-and-rescue mission, which was followed by the JMU police vessel Guardian at 9am, but the boat met with rough seas through the Channel and sustained damage to the rear of the boat before it had to return to the marine base. Two private vessels were also deployed this morning to respond to the area where the missing Panga was last spotted and the US Coast Guard deployed a C-130 aircraft to assist with the search this afternoon.

Since the search began, debris from the vessel has been sighted on the water but there is still no sign of survivors. Police confirmed that the mobile phone belonging to one of the missing men had not engaged in any active communication since 2:47 yesterday afternoon and a phone belonging to another man on the boat was disconnected at 3:41pm. No distress calls were received from the vessel anytime yesterday or today.

Police met with and informed the families of those on the vessel this morning about the latest information.

“We understand the families’ grief and anguish and express our sadness at these circumstances. We will continue to be available to provide all information and answers to their questions and will continue the search and rescue operation,” the RCIPS said.

There were angry scenes following a prayer meeting held outside the Glass House by the police station in the wake of the news that the boat had been found. Family and friends of the men and boys were distraught and blamed the RCIPS for not undertaking the search as soon as the alarm was raised, regardless of the conditions.

Search underway for boat, 2 kids 3 adults aboard

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Definitely NOT the police’s fault that the adults brought kids in a boat with NO LIFE VESTS?! Seriously??

  2. Anonymous says:

    The people who were supposed to look for these people was Marine unit . They are our coast Guard . The boat hitting the reef is something I have been saying for 45 years , Do proper channel markers all around Cayman . Inside the reef in North Sound mark off shallow areas by stingray city , rum point channel ,main channel, Augustus channel and the flats by papagallos’ villas and mark shallow depth on full or new moon.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is not the first time people have gone missing in a small boat and in bad weather. Its happening all over again. Boaters missing and families looking for answers. These people should have known not to go in such conditions, especially with young children. It hurt having to read about stories like this. If bad weather is aproaching and seas are rough, take a chance by yourselves (Adult) and not take young kids or don’t go at all. Its called ‘COMMON SENSE’. I’m praying for the families.

    • Anonymous says:

      The police cannot be blamed for the loss of the boaters. The adult boaters can be blamed taking 2 innocent children on a fishing expedition with no life jackets, no proper radios to send off a distress signal, and going out when knowing bad weather was coming in. We can say the police should have been able to send the helicopter out for you never know if they had gone out earlier maybe they could have found them, but yet again, the family NEVER REPORTED them until later in the evening. So they went out earlier in the morning, but it took the family over 12 hours to report it that they never made it home. As the sun was setting and they didn’t return that would have been a good time to become concerned. So really the police cannot be blamed for this. I don’t want to talk ill of the deceased but they are responsible for the death of these young children. Just like the adults that took the young girl on a boat and they all disappeared and again no life jackets and went out in bad weather!!!

  4. Realist says:

    Listening to the talk show this morning all I could hear was blame the police, blame the police.
    Hey, what about the 3 adults that took these innocent children out on the water with a bad weather coming in and small craft warning, these adults are at fault! ! No safety equipment and it appears no communications equipment on board.
    The real question I have is why did it take so long for the family members to contact the police? They had young children on board who should be in school today.
    I smell square grouper fishing going on here.

    I understand the frustration with the police and kind of understanding due to the timing it took to start the search BUT again why did these big a..s men take these children out with them in unsafe weather.

    Let’s pray we find these CHILDREN safe!!

    • Realist says:

      I forgot to add, thank you to the 2 boat owners and crew who went out and searched for the boat yesterday, and of course to those who are out today.

    • Anonymous says:

      Too bad there wasn’t a ‘square grouper’ involved. If there was you can rest assured that police would have been searching from time report was made!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      You are exactly right! I was thinking the same thing. It’s funny how everyone is dishing out blame on the police. The police did not send them out to sea with the bad weather approaching with two young children no less. Yes they should have handled the situation with much more urgency when they learned of it but they did not cause it. All the adults here are at fault IMHO. The parent who let the children go and the adults who took them out on the boat. This was extremely reckless on all their parts and 100% avoidable. The poor kids are who I’m feeling it for. I hope by some miracle they are all alive and well but I do fear for the worst. Prayers going up for everybody.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Curiously, did the joint “exercises” between the Royal Navy and RCIPS Marine Branch announced two weeks ago actually take place? Hmmm, if so wonder what did RCIPS learn about SAR?

  6. Anonymous says:

    These people might have been alive but for the self-importance of local politicians and minor members of the royal family.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The vast majority of Cayman owned boats are not equipped for emergencies or maintained beyond just running order. There are hundreds of old used boats being used weekly. With the Caymanians seafaring history being so rich, its seems this “over confidant” attitude would not prevail. Coupled with the lack of marine policing for registration, safety equipment, operational knowledge and vessel inspection; this is all a recipe for disasters. A prayer of comfort for the mother’s and families of all the children and men. Hopefully there were five life preservers onboard and on the souls when the first engine was lost. There is nothing more important than “Safety First”.

    • PROF says:

      My heart goes out to the victims of this horrible tragedy. What saddens me is the lack of empathy soley on the fact that they did not employ proper safety measures. I wonder if any of the people with that view ever did something stupid and said ” thank God” after the fact because they escaped danger. We all are guilty of doing things we shouldn’t do, so why not empathise if only for the simple fact that the end result doesn’t look promising. That’s why God’s heart is so different from man . As a parent all I can imagine is the horror those children must have felt.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Let’s all stop trying to lay blame and pray that they are all found alive and well. God answers prayers and he is capable of performing miracles.

    • Southsounder says:

      This Island is full of skilled mariners with years of boat handling experience between them, would anyone out there reading about this tragedy be prepared to start a voluntary search and rescue organization?
      The UK has the RNLI (all volunteers) and they have literally saved thousands of people over the years… …the BVI also have a SAR organization operating on similar principles…why can’t we also do this and help our fellow seafarers, when they are in trouble?

      • Diogenes says:

        I agree – but it rather raises the question why CIG also pays a fortune to equip the marine unit on the basis that they are meant to deal with search and rescue as well as border enforcement if they cannot operate in rough seas (so rough they didn’t apparently stop 2 private boats from joining the search). Or for that matter what this says to those who want to enter our country illegally – just turn up when there is bad weather, because RCIPS wont be bale to get out through the channel?

        Surely the problem is that the RCIPS unit is not fit for purpose, and we should fix that wider problem rather do the usual in Cayman of the private sector paying once for CIG to provide a service, then again through charitable donations for the private sector to do the same job but properly.

      • Southsounder says:

        Can’t believe some moron actually thinks this is a bad idea, unless its someone feeling guilty!…

  9. Anonymous says:

    It appears that foolhardiness has led to this sad conclusion. My sympathies go to the poor children who were not in a position to know better.

  10. frangipani says:

    One cannot help but wonder how qualified these men were to operate a boat. This is exactly why people should not be allowed to just pick up and go out endangering their lives and others lives. There should be qualified people running the boats and all precautions taken before leaving shore.This is a very sad thing to have happened. My heart goes out the the families.

    • Gmoney says:

      Before i answer you and Mr Skeptical I like to say my prayers go for those families and those lost at sea no matter who the are. They are about as qualified or better than those foreign nationals and local stooges now running our marine unit who cant even get a boat out the North Sound Channel without running into the reef. As for you Skeptical have you forgotten the BritissssH Royal Navy was just here certifying them and praising them up and down and that it self speaks volumes. As for the helicopter it wasn’t too tired or crewless to flying up and down while a certain dignitary was on one of our sister islands was it. What a mess this little place is in???

      • Shhhhh. says:

        Do you know for a fact that Guardian “ran into the reef” as you state, or did she hit her prop on the bottom when in the trough of a large incoming wave? Many larger boats have experienced this in the NS channel in rough weather. You, like so many others need to get knowledge and stick to FACTS, not negative speculation.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Not having the proper helicopter pilot (crew) available on an emergency (equipment) says a lot. Imagine you attended the ER and they didn’t have a MD on duty or a sufficient amount until 8:30 am while you sat lie there to die. Or the ambulance did not have a driver!

    The could have dropped life jackets!

    Now to turn around and say that not having life jackets is akin to saying that the passenger in a car were not wearing seat belts and thus entitled to die when the MD was not at the hospital. Or not entitled to get to the hospital

    I don’t want to blame the RCIPS but I must, I think, find fault. They are paid to be prepared; that is the purpose. They don’t even know how to strategically use the helicopter in most instances. Having lived in the USA for many years in a big city helicopters are often used in conjunction with raids and organised on the ground policing. I have never…never never never seen a helicopter used for apparent “information gathering” by hovering over various parts of George Town and West Bay. A totally useless deployment of an expensive assets which has wasted the budget on fuel and repairs instead of maintaining a high degree of preparedness. The operations of the RCIPS helicopter harks back to the news helicopters with reports commenting all the while on a police chase. In this case, they would be commenting on a game of dominos.

    Endanger life….haha that is police work…sell that helicopter and sack the crew

  12. safety 1st says:

    Firstly my thoughts and prayers go out to the families, that being said as a fisherman we all new weather was coming in that afternoon evening. I wouldn’t have take my kids out with me, if I had my boat is equipped as per law with all up to date safety equipment.
    Reading other statements, people are blaming the other fisherman who saw the boat at 3 pm running on 1 engine, we don’t know if these fishermen in fact didn’t speak to this vessel and we’re told all was ok, if they didn’t they should have checked on them.
    Regarding the RCIPS, I am of 2 frames of mind. Yes they only had one pilot, however we have helicopter company on the island and the RCIPS could have contacted this individual to see if he -they were still within their flying hours, as a back up to the police pilot. Just a thought for the future. Now with only 1 pilot available, I completely understand not putting themselves in any danger and not doing a search that evening.
    Now, with regards to the police boat receiving damage leaving the NS, this is ridiculous, I have in the past been out of our channels in ruffed seas on similar boats with deeper drafts and passed without any issues.
    Reading news articles 2 boats went out 20-30 miles, and I have the highest respect for those crew for volunteering to go. My question is and only if the news reports are correct, the missing boat was found approx 20 miles south of Cayman, why couldn’t the RCIPS once having the problem with their bigger boat luanch from lobster pot and head south?
    Now onto the more serious part, we have 3 adults, as written above we all new bad weather was coming in.why take the kids with no safety equipment with them. Oh I know why, this sort of thing would never happen to us!!! Why not safety equipment, because it won’t happen to us and it will cost me $200 to buy.
    This is very harsh to say but it’s true, it’s our mentality.
    Now we have 5 people missing at sea, unfortunately now we have to be realistic, I’m praying I’m wrong, but we now need to look forward and use this case for all who go out on boats. Please make sure you spend the money on safety equipment food and water when heading off shore, I am only assuming this but it appears the vhf wasn’t working, make sure you check out with the port authority when heading off shore and let them know how long you’ll be out and location, if you change location call in ( that’s what they are here for and they always answer and keep records).

    I am so sad that it takes 5 people (especially 2 children) to have this conversation.

    Again my condolences to the families, especially the parents of these 2 young innocent beings.

  13. SKEPTICAL says:

    The Police vessel “suffered damage to the rear (do you mean stern) of the boat” in the channel. Was this because the boat is not suited for purpose, or because of the incompetence of the crew. Perhaps we need some people from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution to come out here from the UK, to show the RCIPS how it is done.
    All other issues aside in this tragic situation, this is laughable – especially on an island of apparently accomplished seamen.

  14. Cayman Protector MPS watch says:

    All this UK Naval &Jamaican Coast Guard joint training exercises and BIG talk of sea prowess by the J M U and they cannot get the boat outside the North Sound in rough weather without damaging it WOW!!!! Can you dig it No Surprise look no further than who is now in charge.of it. Watched Former Marine DTF commanders do it in hurricane type. conditions without blinking eye hundred of times even in pitch black darkness. Big UP our Marine DTF commanders W.Myles D.Burlington H.Powell you guys are sadly missed.

  15. Bobby bird says:

    Helicopter too busy hovering over dignitaries in little Cayman. Pilot was right he too tired to do a search and rescue to save lives. Caymanians these are the times we live in under this PPM regime its all about them and the UK!

  16. Anonymous says:

    The US Coastguard sent their C130 plane. With all that equipment, and two pilots it landed as soon as it went dark and is set to go out in the morning in daylight. They are not night flying here, so why have a go at the police chopper.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Why didn’t the other boat who last saw the blue boat in distress with one engine working around 3pm Sunday not make a call in to the Port Authority to say what they has seen?
    This is really a sad situation and a terrible loss of life. 4 members from one family alone and a family friend . How awful.
    Praying for the comfort of those left behind. What anguish to be borne! 🙁

    • Anonymous says:

      This reminds me of the last time we had a similarly horrible loss of life of persons on a fishing trip — same story — departing in poor weather conditions. Please, folks, take proper precautions.

      My condolences to the families, especially to the parents of these two wonderful boys. I will be praying for your comfort and hope.

    • Anonymous says:

      Having limped home from the bank on one engine in squally weather its not a question of ‘calling for assistance’. You’re not going to go any faster if someone tows you. With one engine working you’re not in distress, you’re limping home. No engine working, then you’re in distress. So I don’t blame the other boats that saw someone else heading in slowly and didn’t think it was a situation where intervention was required much less requested.

  18. Anonymous says:

    And the fisherman didn’t think of letting the police know the boat was in distress

  19. Anonymous says:

    This is very sad and I hope and pray these men and their boys are soon found. Let’s not jump to conclusions on the state of this boat or what equipment they had on board but put all our efforts into finding them. Every able boater with the means should help with this search and get out their looking as soon as possible to bring these guys home. The only advice I can give is as soon as you realize someone is missing at sea don’t delay and call it in right away. I’m pretty sure no one could get hold of them via their cell phones so that is a straight red flag there.

  20. Sea King says:

    I guess the Cubans who drown off South Sound are to blame too. Some of you expert seamen will try to make excuses for this type of Bull#@%$ that is going on in this little place until one of your family members or friends become victims. The fact is when we had Derek Haines running the DTF marine officers went to sea in Hurricane conditions to do their duty and to save lives. Our Prayers go out to those persons and families who maybe lost at sea and to the idiots on here trying to justify this useless police service and its corrupt and incompetent leadership. Cayman Failure is become a option nowadays

  21. I know you know. says:

    One has to wonder how much the history and habits of the adults on board this vessel has to do with the RCIP’s reticence in launching an aerial search for the stricken vessel at the time when the alarm was raised, and not at 8:30am the following morning as has been reported. It is a hollow argument to state that the RCIP chopper could not go out and utilize their infra-red and night vision capabilities when the alarm was raised. It is just another example of sorely lacking integrity, believability and all round veracity for the present day structure of the RCIP to do the duties which they have been charged to do. It is nothing short of a public relations stunt and a ludicrous, farcical and woefully inadequate excuse for the RCIPS to state that they could not send out the chopper. Regardless of who the individuals who have now been lost at sea were, to say nothing of totally innocent children, the people of the Cayman Islands deserve and must in no uncertain terms demand that the RCIPS be held accountable for their actions and the lack thereof. The overwhelming litany of scandals, apparent corruption, unequal application of justice, incompetence, ignorance and overtly belligerent arrogance on perpetual display by the RCIPS at it’s top echelon of command is nothing short of a travesty. If the Cayman Islands is to continue to suffer from the presence of a police force who are not first and foremost beholden to the people of the Cayman Islands then one can only surmise that societal degradation is and has been a purposeful construct. Regardless of the strengths, weaknesses, faults and issues of any given populace, a society which is forced to contend with an unaccountable police service can only expect to experience an exacerbation of societal woes in the presence of such an untenable scenario. Corrupt politicians and those of the populace of like mind do not now nor have they ever operated in a vacuum. Those who are at the fore of an ever increasingly unviable and unacceptably skewed power structure who allow said individuals to continue if it serves their myopic yet universally destructive purposes are arguably worse. One can only surmise from the present day scenario in and of the Cayman Islands that a purposeful construct of setting the stage for a forced independence for the people of the Cayman Islands is in the cards which are being hidden under the table for good governance is not and has not been on display in the recent history of the Cayman Islands. It is an ugly truth which is unavoidable to one’s consciousness unless one is part of the guilty party, completely inebriated beyond comprehension and/or one of those who remain paralyzed from a fear derived from a completely institutionalized indoctrination designed to mollify a populace into submission via a purposeful perpetuation of ignorance, the destruction of a cognizant thought process when it comes to the long and short term future which the Cayman Islands have, in all reality, no choice but to contend with regardless of any and all efforts to do otherwise.

    • Anonymous says:

      CNS … Any news on that WTF? Button?

    • It Is What It Is! says:

      I can tell that you know what time it is. I agree with you 110%. The RCIPS didn’t want respond ASAP because of the persons on board that vessel. How/who in their right minds can make that call to not form a search party to start looking ASAP?
      Whoever made that decision to not go out there should be the main one to hold accountable. Think Cayman….what would you do if it was someone of your family despite their reputation?

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh dear. Sadly I think you are absolutely correct in your assumption. I agree that it could have been due to whom the adults were and their reputations that this scenario has occurred. The RCIP have given us a multitude of reasons for why they couldn’t/didn’t send out rescue boats and the helicopter that night when the alarm was first raised. Yet a couple of local fishermen managed to go out. I suspect that if the boat had tourists in it, then we would have seen a completely different story and outcome. Horrifying if true.

      My condolences to all the family members. Regardless of any of the above, these men and children and their families and loved ones deserved the best response from the RCIP and they were let down. My prayers are with the families.

    • Diogenes says:

      If you have one pilot and he is out of hours you cannot fly – pure and simple, and nothing to do with individuals. Whether having one pilot is enough, or whether using up his available hours doing royal protection is a good use of resource, speaks to management rather than conspiracy, particularly when both decisions precede the persons going missing. That being said, I do not understand why the marine unit couldn’t go out in the dark – they are not much use if they cannot operate at night and in bad weather. But again, rather than being a conspiracy this looks like not being fit for purpose – they couldn’t even get out of the channel in daylight without breaking the boat.

      You are basically accusing the police service of consciously abandoning two young kids to their fate because of the identity of the adults, and without a shred of evidence to support that. I am afraid all the evidence simply points to their not being capable of providing the service they are meant to do despite being given the resources and budget to do so – bad management rather than conspiracy.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Please pleas please, is there some way we can have mandatory insepections of these private vessels. Hoping they are found safely.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I am physically revolted by the excuses the police are attempting to use to absolve themselves of their ineptitude. There are at least several people that need to be fired – and not just those that crashed the Guardian. USCG would have punched the data into SAROPS algorithm and had a totally different search grid than the RCIPS were using many hours after the fact. As for those fishermen that actually saw them limping on one engine into a 24+kt headwind and abandoned their side, I hope they are haunted by that memory, and visited by the same horrific nightmares that most of us are going to have tonight. Disgusting irresponsible humans. My sincere condolences to grieving family members, I can’t even begin to imagine what they are going through.

  24. Craig Porter says:

    While tragic, the boat operators (not the RCIPS) are the culprits here. They took five people through 12+ miles of rough seas in a 28 foot with mechanical problems and no safety equipment, not even life jackets!
    We can learn from this. Boat operators should all take boating safety courses prior to dashing off to 12 mile bank without any emergency or safety gear.

    • Anonymous says:

      True, but, the fishermen that spotted them at 3pm had a duty to either stay and escort them, and/or notify channel 16 that there was a boat in distress. Additionally, they should have called 9-1-1 operator once they got into cellular service range to notify authorities that there was a situation. Instead, it seems they chuckled, drove off, and opened another Corona. They are not absolved of their contributing responsibility that delayed response by almost 12 hours and expended the search grid to 100s of sq miles.

  25. Anonymous says:

    They had cell phones why didn’t they make a quick 911 call.

    • Anonymous says:

      No service at 12 mile unless you are on top of a tuna tower they didn’t have.

    • Anonymous says:

      And just how far off shore do you think you’d still have a signal?

    • Anonymous says:

      What they really needed was a deployed sea anchor after the second engine cut. Things must have got bad very quickly. Image shows VHF radio and GPS mushroom antennas on the T-top. No amount of traditional equipment will help if the alarm is not sounded or answered. The other fishermen at 12 mile should never have left their side.

      • Anonymous says:

        Was there a working radio on the boat or just an antenna.
        I have to say my kids don’t even go boating in North Sound unless I see the boat has life jackets.

  26. Anonymous says:

    You can’t blame the police if they didn’t take proper survival equipment when out the ocean. They are more likely to live if they carry ACR beacon or sent out mayday calls.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe not. Beacon or not, the Police decided it would be better for them to tread water all night. They didn’t even try to find them, nor did they solicit assistance from fixed wing pilots.

      • Anonymous says:

        When a emergency beacon goes off it is by international law that they must go search and rescue. Police chopper would have fly of they know exact where the beacon is.

      • SKEPTICAL says:

        What on Earth is a fixed wing pilot, traveling at 500mph going to see from 30,000 feet, looking for a 28 foot boat in seas that were probably 4-6 feet

        • Anonymous says:

          Multi-mode radar, infrared, automatic identification and advanced imagery… Oh and satellite communication.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where this is a tragedy and my heart goes out to the children’s family, the men who took these innocent children on a boat, in the open seas with NO LIFE JACKETS and knowing the weather was deteriorating they are the ones who everyone should be angry at. Their ignorance caused this not the police. I though don’t understand how come the police couldn’t send the helicopter in the evening hours, doesn’t make sense what the statement said, but the waters were bad for the boats and for anyone else to go missing.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I guess we are not allowed to ask Baines any questions on this either!!

    • Anonymous says:

      What on earth would you ask him? How ridiculous to blame him for this.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is a very sad situation all round. The missing persons and the posters who use this as a vehicle to convey their bitching against the police, nationalistic sentiments or political back wash.
      What is worse is that people will endorse the post above generating the fol into false hope and belief,

    • Gary says:

      So it was him that made them all go out “fishing”?
      I really cannot believe y’all sometimes!
      Who you going to blame it on next?

  28. Anonymous says:

    I am always one to blame the police but three grown men who i would hope knew the sea takes a 9 and 11 year old out on the sea with bad weather coming in is completely insane. No radio, how about cell phones, life jackets? The last update was the police spotted the boat at 1:40pm turned over with no signs of anyone…my prayers go out to the families of the young children.

    • Anonymous says:

      Image shows a VHF antenna and GPS. Those poor souls got into mortal peril very quick. So tragic that the people who ought to have reported their plight earlier choose not to. They have to live with that.

  29. cwebster says:

    I met the man on the boat in February when he came by to my house to pick up some presents for his 4 year old daughter god bless him he was a good man

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