Capt. Charles “Chuckie” Ebanks, 30-year proprietor of fishing enterprise Black Princess Charters, local personality, craftsman and environmentalist, passed away Sunday morning at the age of 65, after a determined battle with cancer.
Many of those who shared reminiscences about Mr. Ebanks on Monday described him as an “ambassador.”
Mr. Ebanks’s brother, Robert, 77, said the family grew up in North West Point, West Bay, adjacent to West Bay Public Beach, where the two used to sail the model boats that “Chuckie” carved at home.
“He used to make these little models and we’d set sail in the water there.”
Robert Ebanks’s son, Don Patrick, said “Uncle Chuck” earned a faultless reputation among visitors to Cayman: “People came time and time again just to see him.
“I knew him all my life, of course. He used to work around all the hotels, and I used to be at La Fontaine [predecessor to Royal Palms]. He used to take me fishing in the tournaments and we’d win for the biggest wahoo and the biggest tuna.
“I spent a lot of time with Uncle Chuck,” Mr. Patrick said. Not only did he build flawlessly crafted model boats, but “he was the first on the island to build fishing rods.
“For a long time he was the only one who did it. It must have been close to 30 years,” something he pursued “right up until the end.”
‘I’ll bet there is a lot [of raw material] still sitting right there in his workshop” in Newlands, Mr. Patrick said.
He recalled their last conversation: “He said a couple of days before [his passing] that it was very sad, but that he wanted his casket to be either black or dark blue.
“All his boats were black, and he wanted red-and-white stripes with his business name ‘Black Princess Charters’ – with ‘Final Voyage.’
“I have wonderful memories and I want to thank him for that and some of the talents he left to the family,” Mr. Patrick said, contemplating assuming his uncle’s boat-carving craft.
Another nephew, former premier and Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush, recalled that his uncle “came up with my grandfather and my mother and father” as they worked at La Fontaine.
“Uncle Chuckie also worked with my brother-in-law, who was a great chef. Chuckie taught me a lot of things. He was a good friend and a great father and mother” to a disabled son.
Mr. Bush recalled Mr. Ebanks’s pride when the legislator became minster of tourism in 2000, saying, “He cared for the marine environment and came to me asking for seasonal limits on lobster and conch and for protection for the Nassau grouper. He was an early supporter, among the leaders, of getting these things done.”
Captain Ebanks’s elder sister Marylee Eckstein said only that she was “holding up,” because “I believe the Lord has taken him into heaven.”
In a formal statement on Monday, Minister of Tourism Moses Kirkconnell called Mr. Ebanks “a dynamic individual, able to impart his vast knowledge of the water sports history of the Cayman Islands in a charismatic way to anyone he was speaking with, whether on island or representing the country at events abroad.
“Throughout the community, Capt. Chuckie was recognized for his work as an entrepreneur in the tourism field, but also as a community-minded man and devoted father. We will forever be grateful for the legacy he has created in the Cayman Islands and the impact of his work in tourism and beyond,” Mr. Kirkconnell said.
Director of Tourism Rosa Harris said Mr. Ebanks reflected the values of “Cayman Kind … delivering experiences for all those who interacted with him, in any capacity.
“We at the Department of Tourism are honored to have had the privilege of working closely with the late Capt. Chuckie. [He] had deep knowledge about our country and pioneering tourism start-up which made him the perfect ambassador in traveling with DOT to promote the Cayman Islands.
“He was a positive person, who took the time to get to know everyone and was very passionate about his home; the Cayman Islands.”
“Beyond his commitment to continuing the development and recognition of our local water sports industry, Capt. Chuckie played integral roles through the years in tourism and was dubbed a ‘go to person’ by Department of Tourism to get to [the] bottom of historical tourism facts,” Ms. Harris said.
The viewing is scheduled between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Aug. 11 at the Bodden Funeral Home. Services will be held on Aug. 12 at the West Bay Wesleyan Holyness Church.