Seaman to recount story of ill-fated schooner Goldfield

The story of the Cayman turtle schooner the Goldfield will be recounted Tuesday evening at the National Gallery.

Seaman H.E. Ross will recount the sad tale of the Cayman schooner Goldfield in a presentation at the Cayman Islands National Gallery at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The event is free.

Built in 1930 by the Arch Brothers as a turtle schooner for Conwell Watler, the Goldfield also hauled cargo and passengers from Cayman to Florida over the years. It now lies at the bottom of the sea.

Mr. Ross became involved with the ship in 1983, when it was being sailed from Seattle back to Cayman by a crew with questionable abilities. He caught up with the Goldfield in Mexico.

“I went to Puerto Vallarta to find the boat,” Mr. Ross said. “There were six crew members with maybe four months sailing experience among them.”

The only exception, he said, was a boy who had gone to sailing school.

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The men were more interested in partying than in sailing, Mr. Ross said. After weeks of trying to teach them enough to be a seaworthy crew and even starting a local T-shirt business to help finance the journey, Mr. Ross said he eventually gave up and left the boat.

On its way to Panama, the crew ran into rough weather. The Goldfield lost its mast and spent several days adrift before being found and towed into Panama.

It eventually made its way back to Cayman, under tow, where a large crowd was on hand to welcome it. The owner of the boat, Mr. Ross said, decided to “hide” the Goldfield and took the boat up to North Sound, where it sank.

“He put a call out six months after it sank,” Mr. Ross said. “Everybody came and they got it up and got it to another spot at Governors Harbour.”

Once there, it sank again. Again it was righted. This time it was moved to Canal Point, where it went down for a third and final time.

Mr. Ross will be promoting what he said is his nearly completed book, “Cayman Turtler,” a 300-page photo essay on local sailing history, as well as the Cayman Maritime Heritage Foundation, an organization he initially started in 2000.

“I came back here last week and it isn’t here,” he said of the foundation. He hopes to “get it active and get it moving.”

The Goldfield is a well-known piece of Cayman maritime history. A model of the schooner, built by Dr. William Hrudey in 2002, is on display in the lobby of the Cayman Turtle Centre.

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