Rum Point has it all: great sand, a truly kid-friendly shallow shore, great snorkelling and great mudslides.
No wonder people flock from all corners of the island – and from further afield, of course – to hang out in the hammocks. Over the years, the location has seen millions of visitors and thousands of stories.
And that is what inspired photographer and author Chris James to publish a new book, Rum Point: Home of the Mudslide, which looks at 50-plus years of history of the area and its famous beachside bar and restaurant.
“I have worked at Rum Point for 10 years and have many photos. This, the people I know and the stories I have heard made me realise I could be onto something of interest for all those return guests, locals and those that come to Rum Point and just love the location,” he tells Weekender.
The book is full of colour photos of Rum Point in all its glory with some intriguing vintage shots alongside Chris’ own inventive photos, which use a technique known as High Dynamic Range.
“It took me just over a year, and I got a lot of information and some of the older photographs from The Cayman National Archives.
“I also came across a chance meeting with a tourist from a cruise ship who worked at Rum Point in the 1970s, she put me in touch with a photographer friend of hers who also worked at Rum Point.
“She sent me some of the photos from the ‘70s, as well as an old cookbook published for Rum Point from a previous owner, with some of her recipes mentioned in my book. Barefoot Man put me in touch with the son of a previous owner, also, and then a lot of the present information came from myself,” he explains.
Pulling together his debut book was a challenge, he says, because he sees himself predominately as a photographer rather than a writer.
“But as this book was based on facts, I felt that I could get everything across to the reader easy enough, making sure to cover things that were of interest.
“What I knew was important was to include as much as I could about Cayman heritage, history and some of the people that have made it what it is today. Not all the owners have been Caymanian, but they all loved the property and immersed themselves into the local community. I also wanted to cover all those questions we have been asked at Rum Point over the years; tourists want to know about the name, the history, the trees, the North Sound and past hurricanes et cetera.”
Chris was born in Liverpool, UK but spent most of his life on various islands, including Jersey, Bermuda and Cayman. He first visited the Cayman Islands in 1994 to see a friend working at the Hyatt, and after a year of travelling in 1999, he returned to Cayman.
So far, Rum Point: Home of the Mudslide has gathered great feedback since its release just before Christmas 2010, says Chris.
“Having a book published is not something I ever envisioned I would do, I am happy I did as it became an interesting project and something I can look back on, especially as Rum Point has been my longest-serving employment and Cayman has made me feel very much at home over the years.
“Caymanians have many parts of the Island to be proud of, Rum Point being one of them, and I hope when my book leaves these shores it helps bring back new faces to those who have read a little of its history and seen a few of the photos.”
Rum Point: Home of the Mudslide is available at Books & Books, Red Sail outlets and Pure Art.