Mark’s home is situated at the far end of Calico Quay, in Canal Point, and has a truly unique character. The house has significant canal frontage on two sides, overlooks a natural marina for large sailboats and is surrounded by native mangroves stretching into the distance, across the canal, in all directions.
The 5-bedroom house, designed and built by Joyce and Mike Burcombe in 2001, sits at the tip of a peninsula-style quay.
The property, which has recently benefited from the construction of a Cayman stone wall and a recent full renovation to the pool and deck area, was designed with a largely open plan.
One step into the main foyer serves up a cascade of ivory drapery, hung to highlight the home’s dramatic high ceilings and natural light. The furnishings play into this monochrome feel and create high contrast with rich, dark woods, like the mahogany wood of the wet bar which overlooks the formal living room.
“Wherever I have lived, whether growing up in London, or whilst at university in Western Australia or the U.K.; or more lately in the Cayman Islands, I always felt compelled to live in locations where I could look out across water. Sometimes that was a river, sometimes the open ocean,” Mark shares. “In Cayman, I was always drawn to a boating lifestyle, so a canal front home and ready access to North Sound was perfect for me.”
Call of home
Mark’s choice of a Cayman home followed the realization earlier in his career that the Cayman Islands would be his long-term home. “Early on in my career at Walkers, I had committed to developing Walkers’ legal business, particularly in the United States, and that meant frequent marketing trips to New York and other U.S. financial centers.
Arktos is a 44-foot production Jeanneau sailing boat and was custom built in North and South Carolina, U.S.
“It takes an understanding of navigation, physics, weather and the sea to sail the boat,” says Mark. “And a need to learn basic engine mechanics, plumbing, marine electrics and air conditioning to keep it running.”
The boat required a custom build for several reasons, including the need for a shoal draft keel of 5’2”, which allows the boat to sail safely in the North Sound as well as the open ocean.
Sailboat selection, advice and yacht management came from David Carmichael of Rhino Marine.
“Without Grumpy Dave’s input, his absolute determination to get me back to basics and trained properly, his emphasis on safety and his enthusiasm and friendship, Arktos would never have been possible.”
Arktos is actively sailed, competing regularly in cruiser class races in North Sound, offshore races and the annual Easter Round the Island race organized by the Cayman Islands Sailing Club.
Arktos has sailed from South Carolina to Cayman and to Little Cayman and Cuba, but Mark and his crew are equally happy closer to home sailing with friends, and sometimes clients, around the main restaurants and stop off points in North Sound.
“I remember clearly; one particular business development trip to New York. It was in my second year after first arriving in Cayman in 1994. I had become a frequent traveler, but business travel was hectic and demanding, both mentally and physically, and very different to an average day working in Cayman where we tend to drive almost everywhere. After a grueling week pounding the New York sidewalks, I found myself thinking ‘I just can’t wait to get ‘home.’”
Mark shares his life in Calico Quay with his two sons George, 19, and Dylan, 13, and his partner Sarah. “We love the open and interesting use of space, and the amount of natural light that the design brings into the main living areas, and of course, the views out across the pool to the canal and mangroves beyond.”
Then came Arktos
A big part of that view includes Mark’s sailing boat, Arktos, a 44-foot Jeanneau 44DS vessel, moored elegantly aside the 60-foot purpose-built dock. It is a majestic thing to see; three large sailing catamarans and a number of smaller powerboats share a marina between the quays of Canal Point.
“We started off with a powerboat, but the rapid Sunday afternoon dash to Rum Point meant that there was little for my boys to do in between the North Sound crossings,” Mark shared.
“Going across North Sound at 32 knots to Rum Point can be fun, but we all loved the idea of finding a sailboat big enough for us to sail and spend time on together, sufficiently equipped for us to stay onboard overnight at Starfish Point or for longer sailing trips. The environmental aspects of sailing, harnessing the power of the wind and limiting the use of fossil fuels, was also very appealing.”
“There can’t be many places in the world where you can dock a blue ocean sailing boat right alongside your own property,” Mark says. “I appreciate quiet time on the boat. It’s a place to escape to deal with minor maintenance, planning races or studying charts. The boat can be prepared for sail and leave the dock in less than 10 minutes, so a sailing trip can be undertaken at short notice and there is nothing better than getting out into North Sound for a short late afternoon sail before sunset.”
A sailboat is not Mark’s only nod to the environment. His BMW i3 is completely electric, a choice he says is a natural extension of his love for sailing and working with the environment.
“I’m pleased to do my bit where I see opportunities to advance the clean energy argument in Cayman. Electric vehicles (EVs) are reliable, economical, fast and the perfect solution for Cayman roads,” says Mark.
“Greater adoption of EVs, with government encouragement, incentives for import of EVs and home domestic charging systems, is one area in which Cayman could be seen leading the way with care for our environment, but also taking the lead on an important international issue.”