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Billionaire yacht owner responds to anchor damage claims

Microsoft co-founder, billionaire Paul Allen said the crew of his 300-foot mega-yacht Tatoush is cooperating fully in the Department of Environment’s anchor damage investigation.

Mr. Allen’s communications team is not admitting fault. In a statement, Cayman 27 was told that Tatoush followed Port Authority instructions on where to place the vessel, but shifting winds changed that position, pushing the ship closer into what they termed a marine reserve area.

“The vessel quickly relocated its position and the crew is cooperating fully with local authorities to ensure that no marine life in that area was inadvertently impacted,” continued the statement.

The DOE told Cayman 27 Tatoush was anchored in a replenishment zone, which are the only areas where a ship the size of Tatoush can legally anchor. There are nine such zones around Grand Cayman, two on the west side.

DOE Deputy Director Scott Slaybaugh told Cayman 27 the department is “highly confident” the damage to the reef was caused by Tatoush. He said under the law, any damage to coral by chain or anchor anywhere in Cayman’s waters is an offence, no matter how much the individual responsible may be worth.

“It’s not going to depend at all on who’s vessel it is or what assets they have, it’s the value of the reef and that’s what we take seriously, so the consequence would be the same for anyone,” said Mr. Slaybaugh.

DOE divers managed to dive the site Tuesday (19 January) despite marginal conditions. They are working to quantify the extent and degree of damage to the reef.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to


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  • Yet another example of what happens if we the people and government of the Cayman Islands persist in not having proper facilities to accommodate and welcome visitors who want to come to Cayman by sea … The reality is:

    no cruise berthing for cruise ships
    + no permanent moorings for visiting yachts
    = anchor damage in random locations is going to happen, sooner or later.

    Incident after incident we have seen this happening, with several painful examples in the past couple of years alone, but despite the clear evidence there still remain well-meaning people in our community, and others with vested interest in the status quo, who rant and rail and attempt to block efforts to move us toward finally implementing sensible solutions.

    “Where have all the corals gone/
    Long time passing/
    Where have all the corals gone/
    Long time ago/
    Where have all the corals gone/
    Anchors pulled them everyone/
    Oh, when will they ever learn?/
    Oh, when will they ever learn?”
    – [Apologies to Peter, Paul & Mary!]

    Yes, building a cruise terminal will necessitate some live coral being removed – but not near as much as was portrayed initially. Yes there will have to be some dredging and a relatively small portion of the dredged area will be live coral, but that is in the George Town Harbour area which is inaccessible for recreational diving most of the time anyway.

    So come on now, which is better:

    A). The status quo which is that from time to unpredictable time, from place to unpredictable place, coral is going to be destroyed by cruise ship and yacht anchors; and as we have seen in recent examples, in many if not all cases that is going to happen in areas that are prime spots for recreational diving?


    B). Dredge and build a cruise berthing facility in a carefully planned zone that is not a prime spot for recreational diving (for practical purposes most of the GTH area it is not used at all for recreational diving), using carefully monitored techniques and oversight to mitigate risks of collateral reef damage? And while we’re at it, put in a few permanent moorings to more safely and conveniently accommodate visiting yachts and superyachts?

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – [George Santayana 1863–1952; philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist]

  • It is time that this country which had the most sea captains per capita in the world moves forward and builds piers. Not only for cruise ships but for its ever growing yacht and ship registry.
    But hearing this today, that the port told him to anchor there? One has to know that a marine vessel should be able to swing 360 degrees on anchorage. No yachts should be on the west bay during cold fronts forecasted to come. Port authority should be the place where they know the weather and have the forecast to tell anyone asking.
    Why don’t we open the North Sound so that we can allow larger yachts to come in and tie up like they do everywhere else?

Kirk Freeport – July 2019
Tanya’s Kitchen
Eclipze – Face & Body
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