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News from Cayman - April 2006

Travel & news discussion about the Cayman Islands

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News from Cayman - April 2006

Postby gotocayman » Tue May 09, 2006 4:46 pm

The Performance Freedive International Team were in Cayman for "Cayman 2006 - SINK FAZE" this month to make attempts on more Freediving records. Czech freediver Martin Stepanek set a new world record in the Constant Ballast discipline (swimming down to depth and back to the surface with fins and a ballast weight) with a dive of 106 metres (348 feet) in a dive lasting 3 minutes 55 seconds. A few days later he increased this to 108 metres (352 feet) in a time of 3 minutes 50 seconds. He also set a new world record in the Free Immersion discipline of 106 metres (348 feet). Free Immersion requires the diver to pull down a cable to depth and back up, without fins.
Mandy-Rae Cruickshank set a new Canadian National record in the women's Constant Ballast category with a dive of 80 metres (262 feet) in a time of 2 minutes 36 seconds.
Dr. George 'Doc' Lopez set a new United States record in the Free Immersion category with a dive of 51 metres (167 feet). For more information and videos of the events see the Performance Freedive International website at The record holders also have their own websites at (Martin Stepanek) (Mandy-Rae Cruickshank) (Dr. George 'Doc' Lopez)

Last month I mentioned that the Turtle Farm had sent 20 turtles to Sea Life centres in Europe. This has met with protests from various conservation groups and international Non-Governmental Organisations condemning the UK government for approving the shipment that the protest groups consider to be illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) - an international treaty prohibiting the cross-boundary trade of certain endangered species, including all sea turtles. In 2002 the UK government tried to get the Turtle Farm registered as a "captive breeding" facility under CITES; this would have allowed the Farm to trade turtle meat and shells internationally. However, as part of the registration process, the Farm had to prove that all of it's breeding stock was obtained legally. The government of Costa Rica protested and showed that some of the Farm's stock was likely obtained from Costa Rica without documented legal authority. A letter signed by leading conservation groups, including the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, the Ocean Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare has been sent to the Belgian Minister of the Environment, the Secretary General of CITES, the UK Minister for Nature Conservation and Fisheries and Sea Life Centres. See the letter at

The Ministry of Tourism has decided to reschedule the Pirate's Week festival. The new dates are now 9th November through to 19th November. It appears that several factors have led to the change; many events were cancelled or rescheduled in 2005 because of the bad weather - October is one of the rainiest months in the Cayman Islands. Pirate's Week also clashed with Fantasy Fest in Key West held during the last week of October. The Ministry hope that by changing dates they may attract visitors from the festival in Key West. The schedule for 2006 is now on the official web site at

Arianne Dart chose a gathering of high-level contributors to the National Recovery Fund to announce a surprise donation of US$500,000 and the promise of a second, similar amount should corporate donors match her gift.

A Cayman company that went into liquidation last year is now sueing Barclay's Bank in the UK. Architects of Wine Limited (AOW) sold wine investment contracts. The liquidators, Chris Johnson Associates, have discovered that AOW had a bank account held in Cayman by Barclays' affiliate FirstCaribbean International Bank into which payments from investors were deposited. However, following a Cease and Desist Order issued by the State or Arkansas in May 2004, FirstCaribbean's correspondent banks in the US, of which Barclays' New York branch was the principal one, refused to accept any further transfers on behalf of AOW. Around the same time Architects of Wine (UK) Limited, a separate subsidiary of the same parent company, Paradigm, requested Barclays to open a US dollar account in addition to its sterling account. Cheques in excess of US$1 million made payable to the Cayman business were deposited into the US$ account of the UK company. The lawsuit claims that the cheques made payable to AOW and deposited into one or the other AOW UK accounts were at all times property of AOW and that the collection of those cheques by Barclays amounted to a wrongful conversion of AOW property. In addition to the US$1.31 million, AOW is claiming interest on the money, costs and further or other relief.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts has said that there is the potential for an outbreak of Dengue Fever in Cayman this year. Dengue Feever is spread by the bite of specific species of mosquitoes, usually the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Assistant Director Dr. Alan Wheeler of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) said Aedes aegypti has reappeared on Grand Cayman. "We've eliminated it several times, but it keeps coming back. Hurricane Ivan created the perfect conditions for it. It will take a while to get it under control." The mosquito eggs can lie dormant for up to two years - all it needs is a little rain to hatch. Mr. Wheeler said Aedes aegypti is now here in sufficient numbers to cause the potential for a Dengue Fever outbreak, but he thinks it would probably only be an isolated outbreak. The MRCU have completed pre-season sprayings. Aedes aegypti will only breed in clean, fresh, non‚Äďsalty water. Common places for breeding include buckets, children's toys, old tyres and in blocked gutters. Mr. Wheeler said it is important for home owners to make sure there are no places where fresh water can accumulate and offer a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The MRCU's plane that was damaged in an accident in February has been repaired and returned to Cayman. Work on calibrating equipment and software will now resume. The plane is expected to be operational in time for spraying before the start of the rainy reason.

Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray of Colorado State University have issued their forecast for the 2006 hurricane season. There has been no change to their figures since their report in December 2005. They are predicting 17 named storms, nine hurricanes and five major hurricanes of Category 3 or above this year. This compares to an annual average of 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 major hurricanes for the period 1950 - 2000. Their report is available online at
The statistics for the 2005 hurricane season have been revised. The Tropical Prediction Center/National Hurricane Center in Miami announced the storm on 10 April, saying that on rare occasions it identifies a previously unnoted tropical or subtropical storm from new data or meteorological interpretation. The storm in question started just west of the Canary Islands on 28 September, developed into a subtropical depression on 4 October as it passed the Azores west of Portugal. This brings the total number of storms recorded in the Atlantic basin for 2005 to a record-breaking 28 storms. The highest previous record was 21 storms set in 1933.

Kirk Sea Tours' Sun Runner capsized near the sand in the North Sound. The boat was carrying 54 cruise passengers from the Costa Mediterranea, a cruise ship escort and three crew. There were no serious injuries. The accident is being investigated by the Police maritime unit with assistance from the Port Authority There is a fairly damming eyewitness report at

Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin announced that the Cayman Islands should soon be receiving $5 million from the European Development Fund (EDF) to help with the Hurricane Ivan recovery. Under normal circumstances aid from the EDF is capped at 3.61 million euros ($5 million), but under special circumstances this can be increased to double this. The Cayman Islands government, supported by the British government, are seeking the higher figure, but there are several legal hurdles that have to be overcome first. Mr McLaughlin said "We've been advised to put in place the steps to get this money. We remain optimistic we'll get that money soon." One of the conditions of the aid package is that it doesn't go directly to governments; it will go directly to the Hurricane Recovery Fund.

Tourism Minister Charles Clifford announced that the contract for the audit of Cayman Airways has been awarded to Lufthansa Consulting, which is part of Lufthansa Airways in Germany. The audit will look at human resources, information technology, marketing and sales, route planning and scheduling, operations and purchasing and supply chain. The results of the audit aren't expected until June.

The results of the Labour Force Survey carried out by the Economics and Statistics Office (ESO) in October 2005 showed that the population of the Cayman Islands has increased to 52,465.

Tourism statistics for March have been released and are available at Air arrivals increased by over 6,000 on February's figure to 31,493. This is a significant improvement on the figure of 18,810 for 2005, but below the 2004 figure of 37,248. Hotels reported an occupancy rate of 79% and apartments reported a 56.6% occupancy rate.
Cruise arrivals rose from 180,675 in February to 253,124 in March - the highest recorded figure for March.
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