New book documents Cayman’s historical moment

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Cayman resident Christopher Willenborg, who served in the United States Navy, has written a book documenting the turtle fishing schooners that were illegally seized by Nicaraguan Officials in March of 1904 in his latest book, “Turtle Turmoil: Acts of Caribbean Piracy Against Cayman Islands Turtle Fishers 1903-1904,” Monique Spence reports for The Cayman Reporter.

The book stems from Mr Willenborg’s love for researching and writing to preserve heritage and history.

““It was my love for cultural preservation via research and written history that led me to the Cayman Islands National Archives (CINA). I began poring over boxes full of old documents when I stumbled across several classified hand written letters dated 1904. The documents sparked my curiosity and the story kept my attention. By the time I completed my research I knew I had a book to write,” shared Mr Willenborg.

He said the Cayman turtle fishers were charged with hunting green sea turtle in Nicaraguan waters and held captive by the Nicaraguans; the UK called it acts of piracy. The book discusses the story through the testimonies of the Cayman turtle fishers who told of their experience with piracy and jail time.

“At the time the documents were classified and top secret,” said Mr Willenborg.

As a result these stories have gone untold for over a hundred years, until now.

“I’m not an expert on turtle fishing, but I am a trained researcher. But after doing all the research I would say I know more about turtle fishing than most historians,” said Mr Willenborg, who holds degrees in archaeology and history.

He noted that it is the second book he has written and it took him almost two years to complete.

With many of the documents being handwritten over 100 years ago and difficult to decipher at times, Mr Willenborg said the research was the most challenging part of writing the book.

The self-published author noted that on the book’s cover is the HMS Retribution, which was sent to defend the Cayman turtle fishers against Nicaraguan piracy.

“Nicaragua moved 3000 troops to the shore. This book is about how the turtle acts against the turtle fishers became an international incident,” he told The Cayman Reporter.

Mr Willenborg’s book is available on Lulu.com, but he said he hopes to have it in local book stores soon.

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