Divers urge public to vote ‘no’ to cruise port

| 02/12/2019 | 58 Comments
Cayman News Service
Caymanian freediver Coral Tomascik (Photo by Jason Washington)

(CNS): Ambassador Divers, one of dozens of dive companies in the Cayman Islands, is drawing attention to the impact that the proposed cruise port would have on some of Cayman’s most famous dive sites. In a social media campaign picturing the Wreck of the Balboa with Caymanian freediver Coral Tomascik, the dive company points out that not everyone is aware that this wreck as well as the natural reefs around it are in danger from the port development.

The 375-foot freighter sank in the George Town Harbour during the 1932 hurricane, but three decades later it became instrumental in the development of recreational diving here when a young dive crew from Bob Soto’s Diving, led by Bobby Soto and Kem Jackson, first took divers there. Jackson, now Cayman’s famous catboat man, said it became their most requested dive site

“Many aren’t aware of the fact that recreational diving was invented here in the Cayman Islands,” said a spokesperson for Ambassador divers. “Many are also not aware that this historical shipwreck is in danger of being lost forever. As a part of the proposed cruise ship berthing facility, the Balboa shipwreck, Soto’s Reef, Eden Rock, Fish Pot Reef, aka Cheesburger Reef, and possibly even Seven Mile Beach are in danger of being lost or changed forever.”

The dive company urged registered voters in the Cayman Islands to vote no on 19 December.

“We need every vote possible,” the divers added. “Otherwise, the beautiful reefs of the George Town Harbour will be destroyed, the Balboa washed away, alongside it, a rich piece of history associated with a global sport created by our very own Caymanian, Bobby Soto.”

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (58)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Unbelievable, but this is Minister of tourism speaking:

    Q. You have been asked about the list of jobs this project will create. Is there a list?

    A. The types of jobs that are going to be available during construction include labourers, electricians, welders, masons, heavy equipment operators, iron workers, planners, administrative staff, divers, skilled tradesmen, engineers, foremen and operators.
    This is construction being done by McAlpine – a local company that we all know – and Meisner (now Orion) that we all know and have comfort that they deliver a great product.
    The people that have called me about jobs, I tell them to get in touch with McAlpine. They are going to have hundreds of jobs.

    Other than unskilled laborer, if they’re hired, no jobs there for unemployed and unemployable. We have no trade schools, so we didn’t train anyone to take jobs that would require skills and experience.
    Besides, don’t ask me, call McAlpine for details.

    Q.The reports also indicate jobs will be lost in the water sports industry and from the tender company, among others.
    A. The government is sensitive to the fact that businesses are going to be challenged and there is certainly a conversation to be had with them.

    We have no idea what they’re going to do and frankly we don’t give a $hit as long as “we” get what we want.

    Q. What other work and infrastructure expense will be needed to support this development?

    A. There will be a master plan for George Town. The National Roads Authority input calls for a spoke road that creates easier transit. It looks at a couple of different options for pedestrianising areas around Fort Street. Nothing is settled yet.

    We might look at that when we get there, for we can only see one thing at the time. Our peripheral vision is not very good. At this time we only speak in uncertain terms: “will be”, “ input calls”, “nothing is settled yet”.

    Q. What about the tenders? Is there a plan in place for the construction period and for that business in the long term?
    A. We are certainly working on it but nothing has been finalised.
    We will do what we can to help them. I think we have the best tender operation in the world. This is a business that has helped the country develop its tourism industry and we want to work with them on an exit strategy.
    After we destroy the best tender operation in the world we “ will do what we can to help them”..but frankly, it won’t be our problem as long as we get what we want.

    Are you speechless? I am!

    • Anonymous says:

      As one of the business owners with a business likely to be “challenged” by their plans I would have appreciated it if they’d taken the time to have a conversation before putting my business into this position.

      • I live here. This is my home says:

        Who, in their right mind would want to destroy well established and unique business, the best in the world business, run by Caymanians business, in order to bring hordes of foreigners to fill temporary jobs?
        Who in their right mind would want to push a crucial for survival of an island nation, in case if emergency, industry out of business?
        What kind of mad people run your country?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Focus on eco tourism not this crap !

  3. Anonymous says:

    Frankly, humanity deserves what is coming when Boyan Slat has 157k and Kardashians several millions followers.
    Even Cayman movement “ Save our future” has no idea who he is. He must be nominated for Nobel prize, instead he remains unknown.
    You, like an island nation, pay attention to all sort of “ celebrities”, yet the one that is WORKING ( not just trying) on cleaning the ocean from plastic has slipped off everyone’s radar. Lots of opportunities to learn, experience for Cayman youth,( they have “a volunteer “ positions), yet, media, not just in Cayman, but in the entire world is not interested.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Please watch this to the end….this is not for Belize…the Deputy Premier said we are now competing with Belize. Far from the truth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJE_w7nZ30U

  5. Anonymous says:

    Comparing that first link to the proposed cruise dock is like comparing salt to sugar. Bonaire’s salt pier has a different seabed than what remains in a borrow pit.

    And as for the ‘coral reefs can be transplanted’ video, that’s like saying that transplanting a sapling is actually transplanting a rainforest.

    If you’re going to present facts at least try to make them relevant rather than disinformative straw-facts.

  6. Anonymous says:

    vote no to the port.
    however if dive operators were really concerned about the reefs they would cease their operations tomorrow.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Here are real facts when building a piling type construction . https://youtu.be/mMu621rWjw4
    Here is why tender operations are a thing of the past. Mostly elderly or younger people like Disney travel . https://youtu.be/PL3ZlOOmlCk
    Here is the other lie they won’t show about Eden Rock, the top of the reef is mostly snorkellers. https://youtu.be/YFhoGHeeOWQ
    Here is the truth, seeing is believing coral reefs can be transplanted.
    Coral reef gardening is working here’s the truth
    Heres the Ted Talk with Dr.David Vaughan and his eureka moment
    Knowledge is power.
    You have the facts check them out

    • Anonymous says:

      This is a very powerful post with links to facts. But things are at such a chaotic fear mongering pre general election state that very few will pay attention to it. This IS real. That first link shows marine life under an existing pier. The anti port movement is being used by tender boat owners and wanna be politicians.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you. Facts vs fiction.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why do you care about people who like Disney travel but not people who live on Grand Cayman, for whom Grand Cayman is home, and who deserve to enjoy their life? Life without crowds and pollution that mass tourism brings?
      Incomprehensible! You care about strangers more than you care about your neighbors! How many people have to die or suffer from illnesses caused by light pollution, noise poll, stress from overcrowding, toxins from the Dump, sewers BEFORE your greed is satisfied?
      I’d love to climb mt.Kilimanjaro, but not physically strong to do so. Should Tanzania build an escalator to please me?

      Don’t even start with jobs and tourism money. Because it is a myth. Just like with corals, relocation doesn’t justify destruction, creating few menial jobs does justify destruction of existing jobs.

      Minister of Tourism “ case” for Port, as published yesterday is all hogwash, pure unsubstantiated lip service and insult to intelligence.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree 100%. There also needs to be a balance with our basic enjoyment of life and living in Cayman and tourism. So sad our paid politicians can’t see this. We are selling out and we are killing the goose that laid the golden egg. It’s time to take our Island back before is completely too late. Enough. #voteno

  8. Anonymous says:

    Balboa and Cali proves the reef grew on dynamited steel hulls. It proves that the coral reef can sustain a helluva lot more destruction than transplanting it also. We talk about Bob Soto but we forgot he was also famous for the term “Cattle Boat.” Holiday Diver could carry 60 divers on one trip. Balboa was becoming, “I seen that already” which is why The “Oro Verde” was moved from in front of Harbour House Marina to 50ft deep off of Holiday Inn. Holiday Inn was the first Dive resort coined by Bob Soto. Cali wasn’t a dive site seen by scuba divers on dive boats. Very few people actually dive it today. We get some Cruise ship snorkelers who snorkel it. But you can snorkel it for free from offshore. The historical value of either wrecks hasn’t turned any heads of locals or tourists.
    I believe we should take most of the money being used for another EIA and spend it on a couple more ship wrecks in other parts of the island. It would be more profitable for the Dive companies who are losing business and now have to go to Sting ray City to stay in business. It was never done in the past. In fact, if any of you were here, you should remember when for weeks Ron Kipp who bought Bob Soto’s dive company had a different dive boat sunk each morning. One morning you could see the roof of Holiday Diver then they floated it. The next morning it was Reef Diver that was sunk. They were trying to say, stay away from the North Sound. But he ignored it and placed a story in Skin Diver magazine saying he had created Sting Ray City. The man hardly dived once or twice per year. But he had money. He felt that his trade and business license didn’t include Caymanian tradition and so here we are. Sad so sad.

    • Anonymous says:

      This right here is REAL cayman dive history folks. The facts, not the stuff we want to believe. Stay WOKE!

  9. Anonymous says:

    The main revenue that comes into the Cayman Islands is through stayovers; not cruise ships. Spend the money to save the beauty of the islands; solve the garbage and education problems. If more Caymanians were better educated, they will create more income. It is a simple fact. VOTE NO to this useless idea!

    • Anonymous says:

      So so true. But you do see the irony don’t you. If more Caymanians were given better education they wouldn’t be so easily fooled and led around by the politicians we keep getting every election cycle. Therefore the latter prefers to keep the status quo. Vote No.

      • Anonymous says:

        So true fix the public education system. You can not fool an educated society so easily. #voteno

    • Anonymous says:

      Roughly 95,000 stayover visitors first came here on a cruise. The two sectors can coexist and cruise supports stayover. We need to stop pitting the sectors against each other.

      • Anonymous says:

        Higher end cruises may be worth some sacrifice. Carnival is not.

      • Quincy Christian says:

        I don’t see how anyone would want more cars on the street or more pedestrians overfilling the sidewalks. I do not try to do anything in Georgetown when all the streets and sidewalks are jammed with cars and people. Too many cars and too many people are NOT GOOD! I have heard a number of visitors complain, and I can’t blame them. We need less tourists, not more. We need smaller ships, not larger ones. I believe stay over tourists are the way to go. Less quantity, more quality!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t this “historic” wreck get blown to pieces because it was restricting the access to the port and was a marine hazard?

  11. Kurt Christian says:

    Vote No

  12. Anonymous says:

    The reef is over 20,000 years old.

    That is a marvel of nature.

    Think about that for a second…

    Protect Caymans future and Vote No.

  13. SM says:

    People are against the port because it will damage the ocean environment. Yet, we are prepared to drive our gas guzzlers, uproot trees to build our fancy homes, travel by air and and sea to vacation, we consume fuel for a myriad of purposes and we welcome construction in all its forms. We do all those other things which are inimical to the survival of the environment but yet there are no protests with respect to those other areas.

    The fact is that for a society to survive and prosper in todays’ world we cannot escape development, modernization and industrialization. There will be collateral damage. The challenge is to find a way to minimize that damage provided that the cost benefit analysis is done. We might as well go back to the biblical times when nature was untouched if we are not prepared to open our minds and look at the big picture

    Define irony – The diver who is concerned about the coral reefs jumps into his Hummer/Escalade for a drive to Rum Point after a dive.

    • Anonymous says:

      None of that makes destroying the reef any more right

    • Anonymous says:

      Conservation is not a zero sum game. You don’t either have to be a climate change denying coal miner or a Prius driving vegan. We all make changes where and when we can and one of the changes I intend to make is to vote no for this destructive project.

    • Anonymous says:

      SM, I believe you’re on to something! Let’s get rid of autos and busses and airplanes! Lets curtail travel! Think of the money we would save. If you want to go somewhere, just forget it! Can you imagine how much we could save? Can you imagine how much simpler life could be? Wow! Where do we start?

  14. Anonymous says:

    A huge part of the main push against the port started from divers outside of Cayman.

  15. Jack pijanowski says:

    Please stop trying to make the island something it’s not. It’s not Las Vegas. It’s not Miami. Its not Hawaii.
    What it is is a beautiful small island. Perfect for diving. Beautiful beach. Wonderful people.
    How many more hotels do you need. How many more cruise tourists do you want.
    You even let a developer change your main road. Now they want to destroy one if your most precious attractions. Your coral reefs.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Soto was half Cuban. Tomasick is Slovak/Canadian. Ambassador is owned by an American and an Englishman and appears to have exactly 0 Caymanian employees. Build the damn port!

    • Anonymous says:

      Ignorance at the highest. #voteno

    • Anonymous says:

      Coral Tomascik is a born and raised Caymanian. Jason Washington is also Caymanian. Please get your facts right. The port will destroy an essential part of our Island and a part of the reason people come to visit in the first place.

    • Anonymous says:

      You may have disregarded that Bob Soto was responsible for introducing scuba diving as a tourist attraction to Cayman , establishing the concept of recreational resort scuba , that was largely adopted ( in concept ) worldwide .

    • Anonymous says:

      This is easily the most ignorant comment here. Jason is now Caymanian and been there for going on 30 years. This is clearly someone who never touches the water, and is clueless about the entire industry on the island.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely, divers are the ones that see clearly what’s up with our marine environment on a daily basis. Above water its so much harder to see the truth with all the CIG/Kirk BS flying around.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe we should let divers develop the economical plans for the whole of the Cayman islands then. That should work out well.

      • Anonymous says:

        But I bet if divers developed the economic plans there would be some semblance of sustainable development.

      • Anonymous says:

        Divers would do a hell of a lot better than what is proposed now!!!!

  18. Jotnar says:

    I am against the port, but recreational diving being invented in Cayman? That’s one hell of a stretch.

    Fantastic photo BTW.

    • Anonymous says:

      Jotnar, not a stretch. Indeed, it the reason (in a North American context) that the international Scuba Diving Hall of Fame is here.

  19. Anonymous says:

    That’s right! It’s about the interests of divers even if that means stopping the port over .0001% of rocks in Cayman. Who cares about your economical opportunity and growth for local small business!

    We also have a monopoly to protect, that also really really really cares about the environment, it NOT about the millions they make personally annually.

    No one has selfish interests in this bunch! not at all!

    • Anonymous says:

      You do realise that these “rocks” you mention are an enormous part of the reason we have a tourism industry at all.

      • Anonymous says:

        And you obviously don’t realize that the coral will be just fine. What you are seeing here is hysterics, fear mongering, fueled by climate insanity propaganda and eco-whackery.

        Right now they are dragging anchors all over the floor, and no one seems to care about that.

        Nothing will happen to the surrounding coral as a result of the dock. There will be no beach erosion or coral erosion. There are hips hovering over the coral every single day, the ports is currently in use every single day.

        Stop using your emotions instead of your reason.

        Do I wish it was built somewhere else yes! the right place was proposed in 2009 which was dig in land around health city and build a proper sheltered harbor and use the quarry rock. but do you think the ecowhackjobs would ever allow that to happen? No of course not! So this is the best alternative option compared to no dock at all, mostly because the monopoly wants to protect their annual millions, at the cost of the economical growth of others and the country as a whole.

        • Anonymous says:

          Wow your ignorance has no bounds or you are being paid by CIG or Kirks to state such rubbish. Read the reports which are available on the DoE website under the cruise port section and you may want to reevaluate your comments. If you truly believe your statements then we are in a world of trouble. Even CIG don’t dispute that the reefs will be damaged.

        • Anonymous says:

          That’s a lot of words being used to convey nothing of value. We have seen first hand what these ports do to the surrounding ecosystem in places like Jamaica. We have a mountain of data that points to this being a highly destructive project. I have to wonder how much Alden is paying you to lie.

    • Stephen W says:

      I think no matter how you spin it there will be a “winner” and a “loser”.

      It’s up to you to decide on whether you want the local politicians and businessmen who probably haven’t even been snorkeling since they were kids (and have made it very clear they have their own best interests at heart and not our islands) to win.

      Or, the divers and scientists who go down and see these corals everyday.

      At the end of the day, them and their future generations will be set while us and ours are stuck cleaning up the mess.

      No coral sites to dive in town will push our tourist to other attractions (which are already over capacity if you’ve been following the news).

      I keep asking what’ll happen to all the businesses created by the port when the tourists we’re trying to please ultimately stop coming because the beautiful blue seas they’re coming for have now been turned to muck?

      Just remember, you can’t sell a “tourism product” without the actual attraction, ports hardly work anywhere else (especially as well as they’re being made out), our government consists mostly of delusional narcissists who collect $10k as a base salary each month (before corruption), etc.

      Have a good day.

    • Anonymous says:

      The rocks you so eloquently describe are in fact animals.

    • Anonymous says:

      I cannot believe you have the BALLS use the apply the term SELFISH in relation to the anti port group and not the watch sellers and cake bakers!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Watch sellers, cake bakers and their developer friends rule in Cayman. Sad but true.

  20. Anonymous says:

    The Balboa is one of the best wreck dives in the Caribbean. It doesn’t get much traffic since access is limited by regular port activity. It was a lumber freighter, and the salvaged timbers were used to construct Elmslie Church and other buildings. It has enormous historical value.

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