October 2, 2023

Celebrating the International Day of the Seafarer

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panel of speakers - NT“Tales from the High Seas” National Trust Speaker Series

In celebration of the International Day of the Seafarer on Wednesday, 25 June, the National Trust in partnership with the Seafarers’ Association hosted “Tales from the High Seas” talk as a part of the Trust’s bi-monthly Speaker’s Series at the Seafarers Hall between 6-8pm.

The Panel speakers included Bob Soto, Clifton Bodden, Ivan Farrington, Ora Hollebon and National Trust employees Denise Bodden and Karie Bounds.

Historic Education and Development Manager at the National Trust Denise Bodden highlighted several Trust owned properties which have ties to Cayman’s Seafaring heritage such as the Eldemire House in the Brac, Mission House in Bodden Town and Fort George which was utilized from the late 1700’s through World War II as a maritime fortification.

Mr. Soto and Mr. Bodden, both seafarers and members of the Home Guard during WWII, shared several educational details of their training and work during the Home Guard years and of their lives at sea. Their recollection included events at Fort George, during WWII as well as the heroic Caymanian rescue of the crew from the Comayagua which was torpedoed off our shores in May 1942.

Ora Hollebon shared facts and stories of a little vessel named the “Gravina” which was owned and operated by her father Captain William Crosby Ebanks for about a decade between the late 1930 and 1940’s. The Gravina served as a lifeline between the Cayman Islands and Cuba carrying people needing medical attention to Cuba and transporting various goods including wine from Cuba and Mr. Soto’s bicycle from Cayman.

Ivan Farrington shared how his father, Lawrence Edwin “Eddie” Farrington, had been capture by the Germans during WWII and learned how to make shoes while being held in a German camp.

Many of the 50 people in attendance also shared their own seafaring experiences with the audience.

“As a granddaughter, daughter and a niece of seafarers I feel proud of our seafaring heritage as those seafarers left home with so little, but returned with a wealth of experience, knowledge and funds to better the lives of their families” said Ms. Bodden, “Supporting the historic properties owned by the National Trust continues to allow our seafaring heritage to have a physical presence in modern-day Cayman.”

Photo: Panel speakers (from left to right): Ora Hollebon, Clifton Bodden, Bob Soto, Denise Bodden and Ivan Farrington


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