Sea captains pose South Sound as cruise berth option

| 21/09/2011

(CNS): A number of the Cayman Islands veteran mariners and sea captains met up last Saturday to open up public debate about an alternative location for Grand Cayman’s cruise berthing facilities. Choppy Delapenha made a public presentation suggesting that South Sound would prove a more suitable location for the port, based on a proposal by Captain Paul Hurlston and Captain Harris McCoy. The two captains have said that “a modern, secure cruise ship dock, capable of holding up to a dozen cruise ships” could be construction in the South Sound instead of George Town.

Disappointed that captains and seafarers have never been consulted by government regarding the maritime issues, Capt Hurlston and Capt McCoy have, on their own initiative, designed a port facility that could hold up to 12 cruise ships and twenty mega-yachts, which the premier has indicated he would like to attract.

Capt McCoy insisted that he undertook the project with his friend with no other interest than serving the best interests of the Cayman Islands. “I’m not representing anyone. I’m not promoting anything for anybody. This is just my idea from my many years at sea,” he said about the proposal, which was aired formally for the first time on Saturday evening at the Grand Caymanian resort.

The two veterans believe that the eastern-most area of South Sound has very few if any boaters and swimmers and the captains say that this, as well as the location's proximity to George Town, the Linford Pierson Highway, and the quick jump to North Sound via Grand Harbor, makes the South Sound option “irresistible”, they said.

They also stated that the site could provide the home dock being sought in the western Caribbean by Carnival Cruise Lines. “If Grand Cayman were to secure this contract with Carnival, not only could this idea go forward, but Mr Bush’s plan for a larger airport would fuse with this idea, for the crew members and passengers for Carnival would fly to and from Grand Cayman by the thousands,” they suggested.

In their alternative plan, the entrance channel to the proposed dock would be 500 feet wide and 40 feet deep. Captain Hurlston also spoke about the need for the latest security measures required in modern ports. “We’d be building this port from scratch and ports now require a lot of security measures. All these security features can be built into it,” he said. One aspect for security would be the fact that the port would only connect to the land in one point, allowing for security personnel to walk around the dock and keep an eye on that one land-sea union.

The two also envision two break walls built into the project, which they claim would protect one of the Island’s lowest points from flooding. 

The captains said the area also has a history of being a safe harbour during severe weather, which they said adds to their argument that the South sound should be considered as a genuine alternative to the capital. They dismissed two other spots on the island

“The Great Sound cannot work,” they both believe. “It would not pull away the traffic from Seven Mile Beach. As for Half Moon Bay, the weather won’t allow it to work and the distance to town is too great.”

Captain Hurlston also said they were not the first people to propose this location of a port in Prospect Point. “Captain Theo Bodden proposed a dock in the same area off Prospect Point years ago. I was against the idea in those days, but now I understand his idea to use the existing reef for a foundation for a pier. It’s a great spot close to town and to the airport,” Captain Hurlston said of the idea.

The proposal is unlikely to be well received from an environmental protection perspective, or from residents in the area, but as yet the plan has not been formally proposed to the government. At present the Cayman government remains in exclusive talks with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) to develop two finger piers and cruise berthing facilities in George Town. The MOU signed by the premier is still valid until November, when Premier Bush has stated he hopes to move to a heads of agreement with the Beijing firm and begin construction work shortly after.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What environment are you all talking about? The ships would tie up to a dock. If you dig out that part of the sound you would get more fish and lobster. None of you people are qualified to talk about where a berthing facility can go.

    When they wanted to put it in georgetown you all complained its going to destroy the 7 mile beach. This is where it should have gone 50 years ago. Traffic is not a problem neither . Transportation can travel through linford pierson highway also. You all complained that you can't shut down harbour drive. You all wanted to stop development. Why did'n t you all stop san sebastian? thats wetland isn't it? The next project also Al T's? . You all are full of nonsense.

    • Anonymous says:

      so we cry down one project and say it is a porr decision for the island then propose our own money making scheme as a good one. As usually in Cayman it is all about the money.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The millionaire-esses , By the Sea & Pirates Lair are going to go nuts…..

  3. Anonymous says:

    I once proposed that Mount Trashmore be aggressively increased in height  in order to develop a snow-cap. We could then promote the ski-dive industry.  I'd intended to be comedic, but now that I read about this South Sound proposal, I realize that I was deadly serious. I really must get my application in for those necessary ski-lifts and the liquor licence for the Crystal-Peak Bar.

    • south Sounder says:

      Don't be silly, this is a conspiracy theory, put about on evil blogs by highly literate gangsters, all hell bent on making Mckeeeeeever look stupid by coming up with a better proposal…hope the Chinese don't ask for their money back!

  4. Anonymous one says:

    This makes too much sense!  IF your actually going to build it (BIG IF) build it in the water!  There is NO WAY leadership will agree to this.  They can not understand the concept.  You have thought of everything except how the Chinese got bush's vote.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Yeah baby! Traffic would be awesome. Imagine another few hundred irrate cab drivers on the road every morning to get passengers from South Sound to town, never mind the added pollution of the increased traffic.

    I think I have made my point!

    • Castor says:

      Who cares about the pollution? Eh? And the traffic, nothing to it, just make South Sound Road and South Church Stree into a 4 lane highway, traffic solved!

  6. Anonymous says:

    It seems Money or the lust for it always wins over what is right. The enviorment doesn't have money to promote and protect itself it us up to us. We don't own it we are the stewards for it till the next generation can take over it's protection. When it comes to protecting nature do we want to be considered to be bad parents? Once it is gone, paved, dreged covered in paint and plastic it is gone forever. In Grand Cayman there are not that many square miles to play with, replentishnent zones and mangroves are very important for the health of the island. Natural places will never be huge money makers for commercial intrests, but they were made perfect by God just as they are. I think long after they are gone and it is too late we will realize how valuable and more wonderful they are than anything  that is man made.

  7. 5th generation South Sounder says:

    This is a fantastic idea! We should alll be thankful and gratified to have smart businessmen like Choppy who is willing to show us a fresh thinking. The only thing that is missing as far as I can tell is a proper canal heading inland so that the people off the cruise ship don't have to walk off the dock and can be ferried to the taxi stand and not have to stand up in the hot sun.

  8. Richard N. Parson says:

    Are cruise ship passengers the answer to our deteriorating Tourism problem?  They are only here for a few hours and can't wait to get back to the ship and go to the next port of call.  What, if anything, is being done about the stay over tourist, the one who fills the Hotels, Restaurants, etc.?

  9. Sick and Tired of the B...S... says:

    Whatever it is these two "Sons of the Sea" are drinking or smoking, can I please have some to help me cope with the dark periods of depression I now suffer, looking at the ongoing destruction of what used to be a wonderful place to live.

  10. Anonymous says:


  11. Anonymous says:

    Going to get some serious NIMBY opposition to this from all those folks whose properties (or soon to be developed properties) enjoy look out over South Sound.

    That piece of shoreline is how deep? This is why when a storm comes in all the boats moor round there – it's too shallow to generate any sort of serious wave activity. That's a reason South Sound doesn't attract boaters and swimmers so you would have to do some serious underwater demolition work to make these proposals viable.

    I've got a better idea for the good Captains. Why not dredge out North Sound for a massive Cruise Dock/Marina wiping out your lucrative trade at Stingray City and all those excellent wall dives. LOL, the insanity of all this is unbelievable.

  12. Josh says:

    Well two renown Captains have spoken. I wonder if the government is going to listen to them or continue with the Chinese.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I can't wait to see all the giant Carnival cruise ships tied up outside my house.  I hope that CIG will compensate me appropriately for the loss of value.  I agree with the previous posters – you wouldn't ask a bus driver to design or choose the location for a new bus depot.  I also wonder about the merits of listening to someone seemingly named "Choppy"…..Interesting that this seems to be right in front of the acclaimed new Emerald Sound development.

  14. Anonymous says:

    i think its time someone put some serious 2 cents into this notion

    the best place to put this dock is between the two fuel refineries on south church

    street plz take into consideration and tally up your thoughts

    i think right now its your best bet take a serious look at these possibilities

    and do a proper research destroying or reefs and like what one

    person said u are destroying or productive reefs that nourishes

    our people plz take this in serious mind and analyze from this

    mr mckeeva plz u all need so sit down and seriously think what

    u are all doing to this country….we are not a sell out

    stop selling out….

  15. Anonymouse says:

    I take a boat into that area. Its not a big boat, but that doesn't make it any less a boat. I don't get out as often as I would like (most of us don't) but I can categorically deny that "no boat can go there because its too shallow". It may be too shallow for you but with the right size boat and a decent captain (with a small c and a light hand on the throttle) its a lovely part of the island.

    Now back to your debate about the "best" palce to dredge a cruise port.

  16. Jacky boatside from old bush says:

    What utter rubbish!!!!!!!!!!! I always thought Choopy Delaphena was a sensible man???? what the hell happen to him????

  17. anonymouse says:

    Get real.  Respected native sons they may well be, but piloting boatloads of tourists to Stingray City does not confer degrees in marine engineering, biology, hydro physics, meteorology, nor any economic, or business diploma.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Captains Hurlston & McCoy are not "Stingray City" captains. They both have decades  of experience in commanding large ships throughout the high seas. 

    • John Fleming says:

      I seem to remeber when I first came to Cayman the idea of a dock in South Sound was suggested. I believe the British Navy had some input into this and suggested it was not a good idea.

      If this report was burnt in the old Government house fire perhaps  London has a copy,  lets see if we can still  get a copy, it may be worthwhile.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Why all the fuss?  Everyone knows by now that CIG will never have the skill or the experiance to actually get anything started much less finished.  Think People.  Use your own eyes!  Cayman is safe from progress.  This is the island of talk talk.  The skill in all of CIG is not enough to get a car started without help.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Just who can you listen to these days. If you listen to our well experienced sea captains they are considered old and incapable of presenting ideas on a national stage.

    If you don’t listen to them you’re considered naive.

    I say listen to them this once – its clear they have nothing to gain, they own no business… They just want what’s best for the country.

    If what they say is true and it can be used in a north wester we will get tens of millions more in revenue to the island each year.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Just because you can drive a boat does not make you an expert in harbour design. This would be like letting a bus driver design the road systemor a pilot design an airport? Ridiculous!!!

    And on another note, It seems that in Cayman if you have even stepped foot on a boat at some point in your life you can call yourself Captain. I am sure these two gentlemen are actual "captains" but the title is used so frequently here it reallly does not mean much.

    • Anonymous says:

      So you have no experience on the sea except for driving by or living in a house by the sea we should listen to you? These 2 captains are 2 of many sea captains who know where a large ship can work from,  cause they know how the wind and currents will affect the ships. They wouldn't be captains of large ships if they didn't understand engineering. Cause remember the captains have to know (not guess) whether a ship can come to a port or not based on sea conditions. Wind conditions also have a lot to do with large ships . If you remember the rhapsody went aground because of the wind and no knowledge of cayman waters. So cayman captains with their license are very apt to give a proper design based on their experience.

      A bus driver on the other hand doesn't need that expertise . You have roads which guide you traffic lights , traffic cops etc,etc.

  21. Anonymous says:

    This is fascinating. The proposed dock is in 4 (FOUR) feet of water. Its difficult for a twenty foot boat to manouver in those waters, but we can berth cruise ships there?



    • Anonymous says:

      wow are you really that dumb ? Or did you go to school for that assessment. Dredging would have to be 40 ft.

  22. biker says:

    To the two very respectable sea captains: Please note, when this plan was brought up "years ago" by Capt. Theo Bodden, this area of Grand Cayman was basically uninhabited, consisting of mostly swamp, mosquitos and a narrow, winding marl road.

    Times have changed.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I much prefer this over dredging the north sound or building piers in town that may damage seven mile beach – – too much at risk there.

    I’m a boat operator and I never see anyone in that part of south sound other than a group of kayakss

  24. Anonymous says:

    This has been on and off the table for 50+ years. I guess we know now why nothing has proceeded with the Chinese.

    I remember when it was tabled before the costs were substantially cheaper than in town due to the shallow construction depths.

    When is this anticipated to begin? we need one or the other for sure, too many days the oasis crosses here!

  25. Anonymous says:

    These two men are the best captains in the Cayman Islands if not the world so they should know the facts and I doubt it very much that they would do anything that would harm this island.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh give me a break!  "best sea captain's in the world?"   No disprespect to the gentlemen, but that is just over the top, and I am sure they would agree.  Being a sea captain does not make you an authority on marine construction.  They may be authorative on winds and tides etc, but they are not geologists, environmental or construction experts.  Just as the Captain of the Titanic was not an expert with icebergs and ship construction!

      • Anonymous says:

        You are obviously a foreigner who don't nothing about our history. Most Captains here didn't go to captain school. They went to the school of hard knocks. That meant most of them built boats from cat boats to sailing schooners. They learn how to sail and manage the crew through time. When they were sailing the sea all over the caribbean and the atlantic there was no engineers constructing beautiful docking facilities. They had to know everything from repairing it . To seeking shelter from storms . They learn through trial and error so they experienced it. 

        If you can imagine yourself working in your office for 20-30 years . I would think you would be more then qualified to tell the contractor that you want aoffice in town close to other businesses, that you don't want to be on the sea side because of flooding.  But you probably want sunshine to solve early morning lighting for your office (save elect.). You probably want your office facing east in case the elect goes off  etc. so are you getting this yet? I dont have to go to contractors school to make the primary plan. But when i build it i will get the engineer architect and the contractor to do the building.

        • Anonymous says:

          Utter nonsense!  Cat boats and cruise ships are not the same at all.  Oh and for the record I am a Caymanian and a sailor and been sailing the Caribbean for over 20 years (and have formal qualifications). but I would NEVER consider myself an expert on berthing.  I consider myslef a competent navigator and I could bring my boat to safe harbour.

          Oh and I am also very well read on the history of Cayman and Cayman's seafaring history.

          • Anonymous says:

            Before you show your ignorance find out who your talking about. These 2 captains commanded large ships the size of oil tankers all over the world. Their licenses have no boundary.

  26. Anonymous says:

    What will happen when the entire environment of South Sound is destroyed, the port is built and the cruise ships stop coming here because of crime?????  Has anyone thought about focusing on the need to secure Cayman and its package tourism product instead of a mega berthing facility that will cost multi millions and is seriously a waste of funds.  If this island continued to be a safe and welcoming place to visit the ships would still come without a port faciility.  Having a large and beautiful port will not guarantee visitors when there is the continuing escalation of violent crimes and an attitude of complacent customer service. 

  27. Anonymous says:

    Up to 40K people a day (with the number of ships mentioned) traipsing through South Sound, with no sidewalks and one of the narrowest roads on the island – plenty of accidents waiting to happen.  And then the fact that people have to try and live around there.  

    What is the point in changing from a tendering process to get people to the island to a bus system where every single passenger would have to be transported somewhere (making the traffic situation worse)?  

    And I thought the idea of a pier was to make the experience more pleasant for the visitors…

  28. Anonymous says:

    My apologies, in advance, for my anger. But this seems like a classic bait and switch. It sounds eerily similar to the East End Dock (Quarry) being "sold" to Shetty. Does FOI stand for Forget Our Inhabitants? Or worse "F%&* Our Inhabitants?" 

  29. Anonymous says:

    I guess those "No Canals" South Sound people are going have to get bigger signs. Here comes Rene's "Plan B".

  30. Anonymous says:

    I'm trying to make sense of all of this. Mr. Choppy Delepenha is making a presentation that supports putting a dock that funnels right into his business partner's Emerald Sound Project. Does Mr. Rene Hislop know about this? Is the government going to buy the land from Mr. Hislop? Whats the deal?

  31. Anonymous says:

    Screw the cruise ships. They will be your ruination.

  32. Aghast says:

    …at least now we know who is behind the Emerald Sound project!

  33. Bueller says:

    Are these guys on drugs?!? Why would anyone even consider destroying one of the few replinshment zones in Cayman?


    The Government needs to come out and state that this is a complete non-starter immediately – a protest or petition shouldn't even be needed.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Choppy – Rene nah your business partner???

    Emerald Sound drawings certainly aint got no cruiseship port in them. 

    You two having a late April's Fools or wha?


  35. Anonymous says:

    Outrageously hilarious. 

    They cannot be serious!?!??

    What a joke. 


    Its 2011 people !!!!


    (No disrespect to the Capt's)

  36. South Sound Shirley says:

    NO! Don't touch my South Sound!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is the worst idea I have heard in all my years!!!!!!!!!!! I will fight this until I am blue in the face!!!!!!!!!

    Grrrrr, this angers me so much that this was even brought up!!!!


  37. Anonymous says:

    Aren't these the same seamen (or at least one of them) that were vociferous opponents of the Emerald Bay canal proposal?  How can they support this initiative, yet not the other???  Unbelievable!!!

  38. Anonymous says:

    Last I checked it wasn't April 1st …. Seriously?!?!

    • Anonymous says:

      I wonder how many of these were against the other South Sound project with canals?

  39. Castor says:

    "Capt Hurlston and Capt McCoy have on their own initiative designed a port facility which could hold up to 12 cruise ships and twenty mega-yachts which the premier has indicated he would like to attract." This is a direct quote. It seems to me that there should be at least a preliminary sketch of the facility to accompany this article. How are people to know what is being proposed. All very confusing. If this story is going to be circulated. let's have the information. Personally if done correctly I think it a brilliant idea. In fact what a terrific idea.The island would be foolish to disregard the voices of experience. Ah now to deal with The Peoples Republic of China. Be careful for what you wish.

    • Anonymous says:


      No disrespect to the Capts but this only takes into account economic and boating issues – and ignores environmental considerations and the fact that this is a residential area!  It may not have much boat traffic (as it is unsuitable for boating as too shallow!) but its a heavily used area for recreation by thousands of people island wide! Who go there in part because its an area of natural beauty. 

      And presents dozens of other strategic and engineering issues. 

      Keep the cruiseships in GT and Spots! They have already destroyed that area. And no one is protesting either of those. The CIG would be totally and utterly mad to consider this proposal.  

      • Anonymous1 says:

        It's not a recreational area to me!  There is no where for me to park my car and enjoy the view… too much homes took the spots. The only ones who will be complaining aboutthis, are the well off elites in those big homes who don't like change. Average Caymanians can not enjoy South Sound like they use to in the old days, because the beautiful spots of South Sound has been sold out to these people.

  40. Anonymous says:

    What ever happened to the port facility that the Chinese were poised to construct?  Where the hell is that?  Surely we cannot be waiting on "legislation" as GLF was weeks away from beginning construction. 

  41. peter milburn says:

    Here we go again.Sorry but I dont agree with this proposal even though I have the utmost respect for Capt.Paul Hurlston.This would be a monumental environmental disaster and we would never recover from this in a 100 years.I doubt that even our present Govt would be that stupid.But then again………………..Hmmmm.

  42. Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      You tree huggers need to give it up!, it has to happen, somewhere! so make up ya friking minds!,….tell ya what!, lets put is in Jamaica or just maybe Cuba!