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Seafaring Heritage District Celebrations at Savannah

Local News 02 Dec, 2022 Follow News

Seafarers and their families received certificates. Left to Right: Certificates for Rollins Lloyd Watler, James Talmage Wood, Joseph Wade Woods, William Langley Bodden Wood, and Denham Neville Wood.

3 Savannah MP, Heather Bodden

The meeting in the Seventh-Day Adventist Hall.

Children from the Joanna Clarke Primary School sang like angels

By Christopher Tobutt

Each district has been honoring their seafarers as part of Seafaring Heritage District Celebrations. Alfonso Wright, Executive Chairman, Celebrate Cayman, explained that originally the Seafarers would have been honoured on Heroes Day, 2021, but Covid disrupted those plans, leading to each of the districts honouring their seafarers. He said that the original list had been extended, by using several different sources including Gwen Bush’s record of seafarers, which stretches from 1957 to 1983. The new list didn’t just include captains or those who had gone to sea for a long time, but everyone who went to sea. They were all Cayman’s heroes, Mr. Wright said, because they had all helped to transform the Cayman Islands by sending their money home to their wives and families.

Bodden Town District’s celebrations took place at Savannah Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Bodden Town East MP Dwayne Seymour was there, as well as Savannah MP Heather Bodden. It was their job to read the lists of Seafarers. Some were there in person, and other family members were there, such as Joseph Woods, who stood and received a certificate on behalf of his father. Mr. Woods recalled:

“My dad told me that immediately after leaving school he and some of his brothers would ride their bicycles to GT on Monday to work at a hotel and would rent a room to stay in until Friday evenings when they would ride back home to give what they earned, less the rent, to their mom. Then they all got their call to go to sea and off they went. He said they got in several hurricanes on his first trip to sea. There were no weather or navigational satellites in those days and you usually found out one was out when you ran into it. And even then you had no clue what the intensity would

“Daddy and his brothers would save and send their earnings ($80 per month) home to their sister who would keep it for them. She, being older, became a mother as their mother had passed away. She found parcels of land all together for them to buy ($50 per parcel) and they all bought plots to build their homes.

At home as a kid, I looked forward to him returning home from sea. He would bring clothes and toys for us kids. In the mornings before sunrise I would hear him turn on the radio to WQAM Miami, Air Bonaire, or RJR Jamaica and I knew as soon as it cleared he would put me on his shoulders and we would walk the beach as he fed me breakfast. Fish was plentiful back then. In the evenings around sunset I would go with him and one of my uncles when they went to catch sprats to fish along the shore. I lived those days and I cried like hell when it was time for him to go back to sea. My biggest fear was that he would not get back.”

There was a delightful musical presentation of song from a choir belonging to the Joanna Clarke Primary School, “Lord let your light shine on us,” which must have been the heart -cry of all seamen who get caught in terrible, dark storms.

MP Heather Bodden spoke about her own recollections: “I recall an aunt and an uncle that are here with us today. I remember Mr. Jackson, when he went to sea, he built a house across from our old house in Newlands. His wife Barbara, she took that money and built a house. And I can remember every weekend, almost, pounding the marl for the foundation of that house.

“Many of you did that and many of those homes that were built back then are still standing. I am very moved and touched by what we are doing here to make sure that persons who are here, or who have passed on, are recognized for what they did because I remember Barbara and Sammy, I remember her worrying about him a lot on the open seas, and the stories he would tell when he came home about the nights he would spend on the deck in the high seas. I remember once he went to Japan and brought me back a scarf that said Japan. No matter where I went I had that scarf around my neck,” she said.

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