New stamps feature shipwreck anchors

Undersea anchor sites instill a sense of wonder 

Anyone who has driven around Grand Cayman’s coast will likely have been intrigued by the part of an anchor that sticks out from the water so close to East End’s south shore. 

The story of that anchor – and five others around the Cayman Islands – is highlighted in the set of stamps released by the post office earlier this month. 

The East End anchor belonged to a ship that went aground in 1888. It is so firmly entrenched that not even Hurricane Ivan in 2004 could dislodge it. A brochure published under the auspices of the Philatelic Bureau states that this anchor and another belonging to the same ship “can easily be reached from the shore as they are in only a couple of feet of water.” 

The two anchors belonged to a three-masted, full-rigged ship originally called the Peter Denny but later named Inga. She was 197 feet long with a beam of 34 feet and could carry 300 to 400 passengers. Sept. 17 will be the 125th anniversary of her demise. 

These facts are taken from the book, “Shipwrecks of the Cayman Islands: A Diving Guide to Historical and Modern Shipwrecks,” by Lawson Wood. Mr. Wood’s book was one of the sources of information about the vessels and anchors depicted on other stamps as well. 

They include the Methusalem, also off the coast of East End; the Glamis, near Colliers Channel; the Tofa, off Little Cayman; and the Topsy, off Cayman Brac. 

They are accessible dive sites, enriching the marine environment and, as the brochure states, they instill a sense of wonderment in all who see them. 

A press release from the post office points out that anchors are important because they help identify the size of the ship, since there is a specific scale of size to weight: they also help identify the date when a ship was built. 

A first day cover features all five stamps along with a picture of the anchor that can be seen in a coral ravine at a depth of 80 feet at a dive site known as Anchor Wall in Cayman Brac. From its shape and date, it is said to have been left behind by the HMS Sparrowhawk, one of the survey ships that did topographical mapping of the three Cayman Islands in 1880-81. 

Other anchors are also accessible, with the Topsy described as “perhaps the most popular of the shallow diving and snorkeling sites found around the shores of Cayman Brac.” 

The very fact that it is possible to visit these locations should make the stamps attractive to divers as well as to anyone interested in local history, commented a member of the Stamp Advisory Committee. 

“I think this issue will be well received,” Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow said. “I would like to thank all those who assisted in making it possible, including Mr. Woods for donating the photos that provided the Stamp Committee with the idea to put together such an issue,” she said. 

Minister Kurt Tibbetts, whose government responsibilities include the postal service, said he was pleased to see stamps being used to share Cayman’s fascinating maritime history. 

The 20-cent stamp features the Methusalem, a wooden bark lost in 1893. There are two 25-cent stamps, East End’s Inga and Cayman Brac’s Topsy. The Tofa anchor in Little Cayman is on the $1.50 denomination, while the Glamis at Collier’s Channel adorns the $2 stamp. First day covers with all five stamps are available for $5.  

They are accessible dive sites, enriching the marine environment and, as the brochure states, they instill a sense of wonderment in all who see them. 


The upper fluke of Inga’s anchor can be seen above the surface of the water.

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