Bonding with History
Published 1st March 2011, 5:44pm
Clifton Hunter High School students recently learned the significance of the names taken by their three academies - Lady Slater, Cimboco and Goldfield. Originally they were ships, built right here in the Cayman Islands during the 1920s and '30s.
Sharing the history of each vessel with the students were Cayman Maritime Heritage Foundation President Jerris Miller and Seafarers Association Chairman Hartmann DaCosta.
"Nearly 100 years ago, shipbuilding was a big industry in Cayman. More than 300 schooners and ships were built here," Mr. Miller told his audience.
"The Lady Slater was the first passenger ship. She had very modern features and opulent cabins. If you were taking her out of Cayman in those days, you'd be cruising in style!"
Education Minister, the Hon. Rolston Anglin, JP, agreed, explaining that Cayman was well known for quality shipbuilding long before tourism and banking became the key economic pillars.
He commented, "We owe a debt of gratitude to our seamen. Were it not for them, Cayman might indeed have become the islands that time truly forgot."
Students also learned that the Cimboco, the first locally-owned motor ship, was known as the lifeline of the Cayman Islands. Its cargo introduced Caymanians to ice and exotic foods and it carried locals needing to visit Jamaica. The Cimboco also provided freight, passenger and mail service between the Sister Islands.
Both the Cimboco, in 1927, and the Lady Slater (in 1935) were built by the late Capt. Rayal Brazley Bodden, MBE, Cert. Hon. Samples of his craftsmanship are still to be seen in the roof-work of the Elmslie Memorial Church, George Town Post Office and the old George Town Library.
Built by the Arch brothers in 1930, the Goldfield was a schooner made from Cayman mahogany and yellow pine from Louisiana.
According to Cayman Islands National Archive records, the vessel was initially a turtler. Her skipper, Capt. Charles Farrington, hunted loggerhead, hawksbill and green sea turtles in the Miskito Keys off Nicaragua. He would then head north to sell his catch in Key West, Florida.
Eventually, the Clifton Hunter students also heard, the Goldfield changed hands three times before being purchased by the Goldfield Foundation for US$75,000, refurbished and sailed back to Grand Cayman. Finally falling into disrepair and sinking, her remnants still lie beneath the waters of Canal Point.
The historical session was organised to educate the students about the special era associated with their academy names. Framed photos of each vessel, together with information brochures from the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, were presented to student representatives from each of the academies.