Fishing off Government Cut, Miami on the 33-foot ‘Bouncer’s Dusky’, the team battled for more than five hours to bring the fish into the boat. The feat took every ounce of skill – and strength – by the experienced team, which included sword-fishing legend Captain Bouncer Smith, Captain Steve Huddleston and John Herndon.
Not only did the fish clinch the ‘Hydroglow Summer Swordfish Slam’ tournament, but it is also believed to be the biggest swordfish caught in Florida waters for more than a quarter of a century.
“The world’s largest Swordfish tournament now can say, to the best of our knowledge, that it has weighted the heaviest sword to be caught in a tournament,” said Tournament President Drew Kettlehutt.
“It’s the fish of a lifetime,” said an exhausted King Flowers who was back in Grand Cayman ahead of this weekend’s Cayman Swordfish Challenge.
“This is the fish that everyone talks about but somehow always gets away.”
The fish grabbed a day-drop sword rig at around 2,000 feet while it was being set, just an hour after the tournament began. Because of the powerful currents, it took some half hour for Captain Bouncer Smith to figure out that it was a fish, and not the bottom, that they’d hooked.
Using 80lb test line on a 70lb Penn International reel, the team managed to get the fish close to the boat within about 45 minutes.
“It circled around us at 25 miles-per-hour and we got a good look at it,” Mr Flowers said. “We couldn’t believe its size – like a sunken boat.”
The fish then sounded and, as the fight dragged on, a powerful thunderstorm closed in the boat.
“With every lightning strike, the fish pushed deeper, but it was like a submarine, steady and unstoppable, like nothing I’d ever hooked before,” Mr Flowers added.
More than five hours after hooking up, they had the massive fish within 200 feet of the boat – this after a virtual stalemate where line was gained only by quarter turns of the reel.
It was now that the experience of the brilliant Captain Bouncer Smith began to pay off and, with a combination of instruction and boat-handling skill, they were able to work the fish to within gaffing distance.
“It took five gaffs and, eventually, a tail rope, but even then he mashed the transom with his huge tail and slapped Steve Huddleston across the deck with his bill,” Mr Flowers said.
Beyond exhaustion, the crew then had to gather enough strength to get the monster into the boat.
“In 42 years as a full time fishing guide, I have never taken part in a fight with a tougher fish,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Flowers recalls that, on leaving the dock for the evening’s fishing, Captain Bouncer had predicted they would “hook up early, boat a 425 and go to the scales early”.
“So I missed by 120 pounds; it must be a fuzzy crystal ball,” Mr Flowers said.
The team is now looking ahead to the Cayman Swordfish Challenge, the second annual tournament which takes place this Saturday and Sunday, 28 and 29 June. As with the last year’s inaugural tournament, Captains Bouncer Smith and Steve Huddleston and the other top names in Florida sword-fishing will be here to offer their training and guidance to Cayman’s anglers.
“These guys simply know their stuff,” Mr Flowers said. “I thought so before, but having seen them in the ultimate battle, I can attest to it. We’re incredibly lucky to have them here for the Challenge.”
Mr Flowers urges any angler with a dream of landing a swordfish to get involved. The tournament kicks off on Friday, 27 June at 6:30 pm with registration and fishing masterclass at the Brasserie Conference Centre, Cricket Square.
In simpler days, before Cayman was both a huge tourism and financial sector, pretty much all of the food had to be grown locally as there was not alot of food importation taking place here on the island. From this, many staple crops of the traditional Caymanian diet were formed.
As the soil in Cayman was and is still not generally regarded as the best for mass food production, many people grew crops that could weather both the harsh heat and dry ground. Foods like Cassava, Breadfruit, Sweet potatoes, plantains and Pumpkin were high in starch and locally known as “breadkind”.
These crops tend to fill you up longer and as i stated earlier do not need alot of maintenance. These foods are in practically all authentic Caymanian Dishes you can try. From Cassava cakes to Rundown(Fish Dinner) these crops reflect not only the food culture of Cayman but its people as well.
It’s finally here as Batabano has hit Grand Cayman!!!
Thursday night is the masquerade ball at Pedro’s Castle. Friday night will be the “Friday Night Fete” and the big Machel Montano concert. If you have noticed Ive been blogging allot about concerts recently(big music fan) so its only right i let you all know about whats new and exciting music is coming to Cayman.
As well, Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires (Calypso) will be performing in what has become his seemingly annual performance here at Batabano. many other talented local artists will also be on the bill.
After all that fun Friday night, get ready to wine during the street parade on Saturday afternoon as well as the Adults only street dance at night time.
I will be giving you a detailed report about Saturday nights events.
A pub quiz is basically a trivia game, with much of the questions revolving around popular culture-sports, music, things of that sort. Teams of four will compete, with prizes awarded to those who do the best. Last year’s pub quiz was so successful that they decided to make it an annual affair.
Cayman Wildlife Rescue is a program of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands that is staffed by volunteers and funded by donations and fundraising. CWR rescues and rehabilitates injured wildlife with the aim of releasing affected animals back into the wild.
So head to To Triple Crown on May 31st, who knows you might win something from The Reef.(Hint Hint)
Performing April 25th, 2008 the one and only Beres Hammond will be performing here in Cayman. Reggae lovers of any age will know Beres Hammond as the king of smooth reggae and lover-rock.
With a career spanning over 30 years, Beres has accumulated smash hits such as “Love from a Distance”, “Standing in my way” “Double Trouble” and “Living Dangerously” just to name a few. Still going strong and always a favorite here in Cayman, this is one concert not too miss.
Local acts such Impulse Band (one of my favorites), Stewart Wilson and Tinga Stewart will be opening the show.
Today’s Caymanian History lesson will focus on 3 uniquely caymanian last names of Ebanks, Bodden, and Watler.
Many repeat visitors to cayman will soon come to notice the last name of Ebanks is very prominent in all three Cayman Islands. This name is said to be a version of “Eubanks“.In fact, If you were to look in the phone book, the last name with the most pages would be….. Ebanks
I can pretty much guarantee that if you meet an Ebanks in any part of the world, somewhere down the line he has Caymanian heritage.
Bodden is the next name on our list. “Derived from “Bowden“, who along with the Watlers were the first the first permanent settlers in Grand Cayman. This is also where the district and former capital, Bodden Town comes from.
The final name is Watler. “Derived from “Walter”. Once again another of the first settlers to Cayman from Jamaica. A Watler created what is now the Mastic trail which is located a few short miles from The Reef.
For those who may not know, Batabano is the annual carnival in Cayman that occurs the first week of May. This tradition started in 1984 by the Rotary Club is second to only Pirates Week in terms of popularity among visitors and locals. There is a street parade that features colorful costumes with music and dancing all day long.
Just as popular as the street parade are the street dances that occur at night. The latest soca, reggae, and dancehall music pumping through the speakers is guaranteed to put everyone in a festive mood.
The Junior Batabano Carnival starts April 26th and the Adult Parade and street dance occur May 3rd.
For more info please visit Batabano’s official website.
Courtesy of the Cayman Compass, that striking new yellow building I pass on my way to work through Bodden Town each day has quite the story behind it :
In as little as three weeks Bodden Town will be home to a new arts and crafts shop featuring only things Caymanian.
The striking two storey establishment with a picturesque view of the sea will also be home to proprietors Elbert Forbes and Krista Silcox, a coffee shop and an art studio. It’s next door to the Bodden Town Pirates Caves Gift Shop.
Also on the property will be nine Caymanian styled bungalows and a guest house.
But what really makes this establishment so enchanting and unique is that it will feature the works of some of Cayman’s finest cooks and artisans.
Straw hats, bags and baskets adorned with colorful decorations, an interesting assortment of handcrafted wood, coral and seashell pieces, paintings, art supplies, some of the finest fruits and vegetables, breads, heavy cakes, jams, buns, candies, jellies and drinks that Cayman has to offer will be on sale.
“What we are trying to create here is a truly unique Caymanian experience for residents and tourists to enjoy,” said Mr. Forbes.
“When visitors come to Cayman they want to see and buy some thing that is native to Cayman. They do not want to come to Cayman and have to buy trinkets and souvenirs stamped made in China or Jamaica. No foreign art or craft will be imported into the shop; all the supplies and work displayed in the store will be made by Caymanians and stamped 100 hundred per cent Caymanian.
“Even the building is steeped in Caymanian history,” said Mr. Forbes.
The Bodden Town Art Shop is a refurbished 100–year–old wattle and daub building first owned by Maggie Webster, which became home to Laurel Wood.
The art and craft shop on the lower floor at the main entrance will have an extensive collection of fine Caymanian arts and crafts.
Mr. Forbes is a George Town native and owner of Professional Waste Management. Ms Silcox moved to Cayman three years ago from Minneapolis. With similar dreams, they set about providing a cultural, back–to– nature establishment for people to enjoy.
Ms Silcox loves to paint with watercolour and acrylic on canvas. She will teach art classes on the premises.
The coffee shop, which Mr. Forbes and Ms Silcox say is the main attraction, will offer some of the finest treats.
It is on the lower floor to the right of the building.
A long patio leading to the front of the building has a scenic view of the sea; this area will have tables and chairs.
On offer will be fresh bread slices smothered with jams and jellies and other fresh fruits.
Cake slices made from cassava, yam, pumpkin, breadfruit, cocoa, corn and other produce and fruits will also be sold.
“The nine Cayman style bungalows located at the back of the property will be built like those that were here in the 1940s,” said Mr. Forbes.
“These will be nestled among Cayman indigenous vegetation that has been left in place.” said Mr. Forbes.
There are also a lot of local wild animals such as agoutis, chickens, iguanas, and birds on the property. A huge rock wall surrounding the property will help to protect and allow the animals to roam free.
To the left of the art shop will be a three storey building, which will contain an office, a massage parlour and at the top will be a high class restaurant. All foods sold in the restaurant will be local cuisine, said Mr. Forbes.
Other amenities include Jacuzzis, swimming pools and hot tubs.
The owners also own property on the seaside across the road.
On the beach will be cabanas, jet skies, beach chairs, towels and painting classes for children and adults.
Last Wednesday marked the 41st agriculture show here in the Cayman Islands. This event always falls on Ash Wednesday and is treated as a day out for the family and to have a good time. From foodies to farmers this event is a treat for all. In fact, this years had biggest crowd on record with over 10,000 people attending.
The event features prizes in a variety of categories from produce to native crafts. As i walked in I was greeted with the smell of a multitude of food items which made my selection that more difficult.( I opted for the Turtle Stew). After i got something in my stomach, I ventured over to see the farm animals on display. Cows, Goats, Pigs and chickens were on display for the competition and is certainly a treat for the young children.
The next area i ventured to was where venders were selling various plants and trees such as mangos, hot peppers, and guavas. As a big lover of Ackee and codfish, i was forced to buy an ackee tree for my own yard. For those who dont know, Ackee is a fruit that turns red when ripe and looks like scrambled eggs when served. This is why Ackee and Codfish is generally ate at breakfast time.
There was also a children’s area with bouncing castles and slides which is perfect when you need a break.
Every year the Agriculture Show brings something new and exciting for people of all ages and this years show was no different.
This Monday marks National Heroes Day here in the Cayman Islands and this got me thinking about the definition of heroes and people who have been heroes.
Caymanian’s dont have to look far back in history to find national heroes as they still live among us. No more then 50 years ago Cayman was a small little island(still is) with very little in terms of material wealth, most Caymanian males went off to sea on various ships to earn a living and support their families back home. With this tradition Caymanian’s became internationally known as great seaman and were highly sought after. These men are now celebrated on National Heroes Day for their contribution to the growth of The Cayman Islands.
Individually, I’m sure everyone has someone who in their life has inspired them. From parents to community leaders to sports stars, the list of people who can inspire and be looked at as contributing to the betterment of their society is endless
Lets spend today having a good time but also taking time to appreciate the people who came before you and helped shape who you are.
“What about diving?”, is easily the number one asked question by visitors to Cayman. As most of you already know, The Caymans Islands are world renowned for our diving and now thanks to Franko, finding all of those dive sites just got even easier.
Many guests to The Reef Resort happen to be divers and this map is sure to come in handy. In fact, Popular dive sites such as “Valley of the Dolls”, and “Turtle Pass” are located very near to The Reef Resort.
From the obligatory “Stingray City” and “The Wall” to “Bloody Bay” in Cayman Brac, all of the listed dive sites in Grand Cayman can now be found on a waterproof color map. Even if you are not a diver this map can hang on your wall as a reminder to come and visit Cayman.
These maps are for sale at http://www.frankosmaps.com/Cayman_Islands.htm for $8US and can also be purchased here at our dive shop.
So Sunday afternoon i decided to spend a little quality time with the family and head over to Boatswains Beach and The Turtle Farm. This was my first time visiting this new attraction since the Turtle Farm reopened after Hurricane Ivan.
Boatswains Beach aims to show Cayman Culture while also incorporating a theme park aspect that makes a great time for people of all ages.
Upon entering you will encounter a humongous tank filled with Giant Sea Turtles of which feed is given to you upon entering. You then take a walk throughout the many little tanks which feature Turtles of many ages that you can pick up and hold for a quick snapshot.
Turtle Meat has long been treasured among Caymanians and Turtle Stew is in fact our National Dish. From the days of Catboats(another unique local tradition) to nowadays i would challenge you to find a Caymanian who could pass up a plate of Turtle Stew. I’m starting to get off subject….so…
Now, after you have passed through the Turtle Tanks which also hold such animals as the Caiman Crocodile (from which our islands got their name) and Iguanas, you enter the theme park section of the park. This is where the fun continues as you have the Boatswains Lagoon where you get the chance to swim with all sorts of saltwater creatures, even turtles!
There is also the Predator Reef which features various types of Sharks that can viewed through a protective glass window. To the right is the huge Breakers lagoon which, if you are bringing little kids, you should plan to spend a little while as the kids can’t get enough of it.
The next section is a bird sanctuary featuring such birds as The Cayman Parrot(National Bird), Red Footed Boobies, and many more indigenous birds to Cayman.
After the birds is a nature trail through the woods where those nature enthusiasts can see all of the native tree’s and plants to the Cayman Islands and hopefully walk off some of those Caybrews from the bar. (Maybe that’s just my me.)
Exit the trail and you then head over to Cayman Street which features houses built in the Old Cayman Style and several items such as traditional “fish pots” and a “caboose”, which Caymanians used to cook meals on.
As you exit Boatswains Beach feel free to pick up a souvenir from the gift store.
Overall, I strongly recommend visitors and Caymanians alike to visit this attraction as you get to have fun and learn about the culture all in one trip.
Take a visit to http://www.boatswainsbeach.ky/ for more info.
It is also against the law for anyone to receive or purchase more than five conchs taken from Cayman waters in any one day.
The final show of the three day festival was from all accounts the best as each artist gave an outstanding performance and kept the audience well entertained into the night.
I attended Saturdays show with Penny Young from our member services department who some of our owners should be familiar with. Below is her review of the show:
They say, “save the best for last” and they surely did as this show was a treat for both jazz and r & b lovers. It was absolutely incredible. Cayman’s own songbird “KK Allese” started off the night with a mix of r & b and reggae. She is a great local talent and trust me when i say that she will be internationally known, not too long from now. After KK came jazz man Mike Phillips who is a superb musician and a great entertainer. At one point he actually held a single note for over 4 minutes!
After a wait of about 25 minutes the crowd was starting to get a little restless and that’s when the top guns came out. Brian McKnight came out onto the stage and immediately the crowd was rocking. He performed many of his classic hits such as “Anytime”, “The Only One for me”, “The Last Cry”. At one point he brought out his two sons on stage to sing a couple of tunes.
Joe came on stage in the middle of Brian McKnight’s set and performed his big hits that had the ladies going crazy. Songs like “I wanna know” and “All the things” were real crowd pleasers and continued the energy from Brian’s set.
Gospel star Bebe Winans came on next. After about two songs he got together with Brian McKnight and Joe to perform their song “Home”
Brian McKnight closed the show with his hit “Back at One”. Fireworks then followed, capping off a great show and a successful weekend.
I have to agree with Penny as i was blown away by the performances and the level of energy that each artist brought to the stage. Put Jazz Fest 2008 on your calenders now!
This weekend and next will feature two major entertainment events, Cayman Jazz Fest and Gimistory.
Back in the days(3 months ago) when i first started blogging about The Cayman Jazz Fest the performer scheduale had not been fully announced. Well you are in for a treat as some of the biggest names in jazz and r&b will be performing next weekend here in The Cayman Islands.
Acts such as Brian Mcknight, Bebe Winans, Music Soulchild, Chaka Kahn, Alex Bugnon, Dianne Reeves, and Mondy Alexander are schedualed to perform over the 3 day festival.
This annual event is great for not only Jazz and r@b enthusiasts, but for any music fan in general and starts November 28th to December 1.
Tickets are CI$145 for the all weekend pass and can be purchased indivudually as well here at The Reef Resort through our concierge Leona Baker.
However, for this weekend its all about “Gimistory”.
Gimistory is an annual storytelling event(now in its 9th year) put on by The Cayman National Cultural Foundation and features storytellers from Cayman and the Caribbean gathering in an intimate setting to tell stories ranging from “The Cayman of Old” to just flat out funny tales.
Cayamanian culture like many other Caribbean islands have been passed down from generation to generation by stories. For example, every Caymanian can recall stories of duppies(ghosts) that would come and get you if you were behaving badly.
Returning once again will be Guyana native Ken Corsbie, who has captured audiences all over the Caribbean with his tales. Also, The Storytellers (Barry Marshall and Jeri Burns) return to spread the brand of storytelling and song.
Best of all admission to this event(November 23- December 1) is Free!
I’ve just spent a great half day being a tourist… taking some UK journalists down teh Mastic Trail
It was with very mixed emotions that guests and staff alike witnessed the latest Cuban migrant boat to pass through the waters of Cayman, making a very brief stop here at The Reef Resort’s dock yesterday afternoon.
The nine men and one woman were in good health and, despite being at sea for 9 days in what seemed to be a very unstable vessel, they expressed their wish to the authorities via our Cuban expat staff member, Enrique, to carry on with their journey to Honduras where family members were awaiting their arrival.
Most of our guests expressed extreme concern and were donating food, water and anything that they could think of in an effort to help make the treacherous journey a little better. We gave them fresh water and fruit, warm bread and diesel fuel to continue with their journey. The occupants of the boat were very grateful and sailed away with about 50 onlookers waving and wishing them luck.
Our guests had many questions, the main one being, why are they being allowed to continue?
According to Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson, Cayman has not granted refugee status to anyone since 1994 when a group of 43 Cuban migrants were given asylum. Mr. Manderson has said Cubans arriving here by boat are generally economic migrants, not refugees. Currently, the Cayman Islands Memorandum of Understanding agreement with Cuba, signed in 1999, states that Cuban migrants who enter Cayman illegally are sent back to their home country.
Under current guidelines, the Cayman Islands government does not provide any assistance to Cuban migrants who show up in vessels off shore. However, those migrants are given the option of continuing on with their journey even if the water craft they travel in is clearly not seaworthy. If the occupants are deemed physically unable to continue or express the wish to be repatriated, or it is very obvious that the vessel will not make it, the Cayman authorities will take them ashore and they will be repatriated after a short spell here in Cayman.
According to the report: “The vessels used by Cuban migrants, even if repaired and made notionally seaworthy, are either makeshift or extremely old and are still at risk during what all are agreed is an extremely dangerous journey.
“If a vessel, which has been patched up with the assistance of the Cayman Islands government was to then encounter difficulties, which in turn led to loss of lives, it could be argued that the Caymanian authorities are implicated in and in part responsible for, such an unfortunate outcome.”
I myself believe that this is one of the saddest, yet at the same time , the most humbling and bravest exhibits of human behaviour that one could experience. To risk your life like this in order to start a new life is more than most of us can comprehend, however, this is a regular occurrence here in Cayman and all over the world.
I know that I left here last night with an overwhelming sense of how lucky I am and how good I have it!
As a final thought, before leaving, they were asked if they needed anything else for their journey, their answer was ‘just pray for us’! I think we all prayed in our own little way last night.