Shipbuilding heritage celebrated at Turtle Farm

Model of Goldfield on display

Cayman’s shipbuilding heritage is
being celebrated at the Cayman Turtle Farm.

A model of one of the most famous
vessels launched from Cayman, the Goldfield, is on display in the lobby.

“The Goldfield is a symbol of
Caymanian determination, pride, and workmanship,” said Chris Jackson of the
turtle farm’s operations department. “It is a part of our heritage that too few
of our young people really know about. I am excited that the turtle farm is
giving people a chance to rediscover this part of our history and keep it alive
for future generations.”

From the turn of the last century
to the start of the Second World War, shipbuilding was a major source of income
for the Cayman Islands. Between 1903 and 1950, more than 283 vessels were built
in shipyards spread across all three islands.

The model of the Goldfield was
built by William Hrudey in 2002. It took him more than six months of full time,
painstaking work and countless hours of archival research to ensure that every
detail was accurate and true to the original.

Mr. Hrudey said it is an honour to
have the model of Goldfield displayed so prominently.

“The Cayman Islands has a rich and
colourful seafaring history that could easily be lost in time. I see this model
as a wonderful way of preserving that history, and I am delighted that it is
being showcased at the turtle farm. It has been a real and unique labour of
love, and I will never create another,” he said. 

The Goldfield, a turtle schooner,
was built for William Conwell Watler from a design by Fossie Arch, just 23 at
the time, at the James Arch and Sons Shipyard on South Church Street. The
shipyard once stood in the area now occupied by Hard Rock Cafe.

The design of the Goldfield was
inspired by the famous Canadian fishing and racing schooner Bluenose, which has
become a symbol of Nova Scotia. The Goldfield was one of the first spoon bowed
vessels built in the Cayman Islands, with the clipper bow having held sway up
until around 1929.

H. E. Ross of the Cayman Maritime
Heritage Foundation wrote: “Goldfield was maintained in yacht condition with varnished
rails, sparkling white topsides and fancy worked rigging. The crew was a
swaggering lot, proud that their vessel was the fastest and prettiest around.
Of course all crews did the same thing, but Goldfield was fast and was pretty,
especially for a working vessel.”

According to Mr. Ross, the
Goldfield was a unique ship.

“The Goldfield seemed to steal the
limelight from all the other turtler designs. She is a beautiful example of a
fishing work boat, especially when compared to the design and construction
standards in the Caribbean Basin. She had flash, a beautiful spread of canvas,
a spoon bow, a yacht’s taff rail and a wine glass transom. She was big yet
manageable with no engine until her sale abroad, and she was handled by a crack
crew and a great skipper in Captain Reginald Parsons.”

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