Young boat builder documents local catboat plans

| 17/08/2011

(CNS): One young student is doing his best to revive the Cayman Islands proud maritime past by creating plans for the country’s traditional Catboats. Ned Jerris Miller III is spending this summer putting his skills, learned at the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) in Newport, Rhode Island, into practice. The first recipient of the Gwen Bush Memorial Scholarship, which awards $20,000 annually, Ned is excited about the work documenting the dimensions of the nine catboats in the Cayman Catboat Club’s fleet. Very few of Cayman’s original catboat builders remain to pass their skills on to the younger generation so Kem Jackson, one of two remaining master boat builders has taken Ned under his wing.

“All of this year’s work will be helpful in fulfilling the Cayman Maritime Heritage Foundation’s mission,” said Ned. .”One of the major problems with the hundreds of catboats built in Cayman over the past 150 years is that they were all built from half models,” Ned said. “They were never built from plans, and except for the overall length, no information exists on the exact dimensions of a Cayman catboat.”

Earlier this year, as part of his freshman assignment, Ned and a teammate completed the restoration of a dilapidated 55-year-old 12-ft Beetle which passed its sea worthiness test with flying colours after successfully crossing the Newport Sound in June.

“While the construction of a New England catboat differs from that of a local catboat, all the techniques learned at IYRS reflect the traditional way that catboats were built in the Cayman Islands.  The drafting and technical drawing courses taught me how to document the dimensions of existing Cayman Catboats and to produce full-sized plans. This will allow interested persons to build catboats from plans and may result in additional private catboats sailing in our waters,” he explained.

When his summer work is finished here in Cayman it will be sent to IYRS for evaluation and addition to his 2010/2011 grades and he will present copies of his drawings to the Cayman Islands National Archive for safekeeping.

Ned returns to IYRS in September where he’ll complete the final 12-months of his two-year programme.

For more information on the Gwen Bush Memorial Scholarship, call the Scholarship Secretariat on 244-2417 or email Information is also available at under the education tab.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What a great story to read.  Please keep it up. I'm very happy to see Caymanians proud of their heritage and interested in protecting it.