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Blog Home > Archive (September, 2016)
A Journey with Captain Allan

Captain Allan Ebanks is unlike anyone I've ever met. I feel like I've met him in a story book or two, but never someone like him in the flesh. During a recent trip on his charter boat, he took my friends and I on an unforgettable tour of the North Sound and told us grandiose story after grandiose story about his life as a 5th Generation Caymanian. I was absolutely captivated.

friends on boatWe boarded Captain Allan's boat in the North Sound on a late Saturday afternoon and headed out towards Starfish Point. Captain Allan introduced himself, and it didn't take long before he was deep into storytelling. We learned that his paternal great-great grandfather moved to the island all the way from India, and his mother moved to Cayman from Cuba. Born in 1952, Captain Allan, told us that he remembers when Cayman traffic was mostly horses and donkeys and only a few cars. When he was a young man the Captain set out to sea with his father, a fisherman, to learn the trade. He did this for many years and said that men at sea ate so much turtle that they could see the turtle oil running under their skin. He laughed at my bewilderment, and said the omega in the turtle oil also made the men like Hercules.

Watching Starfish and Looking for Conch at Starfish Point

boat captain looking overboardCaptain Allan, stopped the boat that we were on at Starfish Point and invited us all to join him as he jumped into the sea. He and his cousin, Merle (who was on board helping) went in without flippers or goggles. They said the salt water didn't bother their eyes. And trust me the flippers were needed for us as well. The water was very choppy, so they helped us swim with more gusto. I spotted some starfish in the wild for the very first time, and while some may consider watching starfish anti-climatic, I really felt a major sense of gratitude and awe for having the opportunity to be there in that moment. Captain Allan and Merle were also looking for conch shells during this stop. The season for conch hunting had apparently just began, and the men explained that we would see several boats out looking for conch.

two men snorkelingWe kicked our way back to the boat, hopped back on, and the Captain took us towards Stingray City. During our ride, he dove right back in to storytelling. He told us that during his time at sea, he made traditional, wooden fishing boats. The boats were made with cotton caulking and he made them aboard large ships. Once they were lowered into the water they could never be pulled back on board because the material became way too heavy once wet, so these types of boats could only be pulled on shore. They also had to dry on shore for 3-4 weeks before being used again.

Getting a Stringray Backrub at Stingray City

anchoring the boatOnce at Stingray City, Captain Allan anchored us again and explained that the stingrays are very tame and hang out at this reef because they know they will be fed here. He threw out some food for the stingrays and we saw them come swarming. Everyone on board jumped into the shallow water and played with the docile creatures... there were plenty of squeals as the stingrays slithered over and around us. Merle talked me into petting and holding one of the huge creatures, and then he placed one on my back for a "stingray backrub." Squeals and laughter followed.

Captain Allan continued looking for Conch. He would dive under water for what seemed like 5 minutes at a time, and little did we know that we were about to get a very special treat from his hunting adventures.

Enjoying Conch Civiche on the Ride Back

Once we were all back on board, Captain Allan and his cousin, Merle, started harvesting and then preparing the conch in a conch civiche. After harvesting the conch, he showed us how you could use the shells as a blow horn. They work very well for this!

The captain continued his stories while preparing the civiche. At one point during his sea life he fished for tiger sharks, green turtles and hawksbill turtles.  They sold the green turtle shells to China for manufacturing and sold the beautiful hawksbill turtle shells to local markets for wall hangings and jewelry.

harvesting conchI learned that hunting tiger sharks was not for the faint of heart. He said these sharks were smart. Once hooked, they would only fight  for a short while and would then wait in preparation for their prey to pull them from the water. As soon as their heads hit the top of the water they would snap their tails as quick as possible often times knocking fisherman off boats. Allan had heard these warning tales, and knew not to get too close when pulling a tiger shark up. However, he did have a close call. When pulling one from the sea, the shark flipped his tail around and Captain Allan had to quickly duck to avoid being hit. He said the shark took the hat off his head and he was thankful to be alive afterwards.

conch civiche on crackersIn the 70's Captain Allan came back to the Cayman Islands and began taking Canadian tourists out on chartered boats for Cayman Style picnics. He fell in love with leading these tours which eventually led to the purchase of his own boat and building the business he has today.

After the sun set, we rode back into the mainland and Captain Allan turned the music up to celebrate our day on the sea. A dance party pursued and we all toasted to a perfect ride upon Captain Allan's boat.

If you're interested in taking a tour aboard Captain Allan's charter boat, you can reach him at (345) 945-4340 or charter@candw.ky. You can also find more information on his tours on TripAdvisor, and if you need somewhere to stay while on island, we've got you covered. View our units here

leaving the yacht club     Captain Allan Ebanks
  Captain Allan Ebanks telling stories
  girls on front of boat
hopping off the boat
  holding a stingray
conch shell
  sunset in north sound
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Get to know Grand Cayman better by treating yourself to a day of Cayman History. We've rounded up five fascinating, historical attractions (some well known and some not) that you can see in a single day trip. Check them out below!

Pedro St. James Castle

Pedro St. James CastlePedro St. James Castle is a Cayman "Great House," and a great place to see what life was like in old Cayman. The house was originally built in the late 1700's and has been lovingly restored to its original 18th Century glory with period furniture and historical displays throughout its three stories.

The house was built by a wealthy Englishman using Jamaican slave labor, and at the time there were only about 500 people living on the island. Most of the houses around the property were little "wattle and daub" single level homes. Imagine the attention this "castle" must have garnered!

Pedro St. James is perched upon a beautiful beachfront area of South Sound. History buffs and novices alike will adore this site for both its beautiful views and grand stories. Self-guided and guided tours are available with fees ranging from CI$5 to CI$15.

Nurse Leila's House

Nurse Leila's House was purchased by the National Trust in 2006 due as much to Leila's historical contributions to the island as the structure's historical significance itself.

midwives houseThe beloved Nurse Leila was a Caymanian nurse, midwife, columnist and church activist. As midwife, Nurse Leila delivered over 1000 Cayman babies in West Bay, many of which were born in this house and still live on the island today.

The house itself is one of a few "wattle and daub" houses left on the island and the only one of its kind owned by the National Trust. It's currently undergoing a full restoration, but you can drive by and check it out on West Church Street just past the four way stop in West Bay. There's a sign with additional details at the front of the property. This one is a quick feel-good stop!

Mission House

The Mission House is a traditional, two-story Cayman home located in the heart of Bodden Town. The house was built in the 1700's and became popularly known as the Mission House during the 1800's, due to the missionaries, teachers and families that lived there and helped establish the local Presbyterian school and ministry in Bodden Town. Guided tours are available by appointment only, so make sure to call 749-1123 or email mission@nationaltrust.org.ky to schedule your tour ahead of time. Entry fees are CI$8 for adults or CI$4 for children with groups of 4 or more.

Historic Step Well

If you stumbled upon this site unknowingly, you might not think much of it. Its story is what makes it so interesting. This historic well is believed to be one of four wells documented on a British surveyor's map from the early 1700's where ships would stop to stock up on fresh water. What's most interesting about this site, though, is that it was completely lost until 2003 when it was discovered on the site of a development project. The property owner decided to partner with the Cayman Islands National Museum to preserve this treasure by building around it.

So now, the step well is located in the middle of a shop in the Bayshore Mall in Georgetown (located on S Church Street). You can walk into the shop and find the well beneath a glass encasement. You can safely walk on the glass cover and peer down into the well. What's even better is that the water in the well has been rated good enough to drink still today!

Fort George

Fort George, nestled in the capital city of Georgetown, dates back as far as the 1700's and has been used as recently as WWII. The fort was originally built to fend off potential Spanish attacks from the shores of nearby Cuba. A lookout house assembled of original doors and windows plus other historical salvage material from the island sits in a cotton tree at the fort. The lookout house was built to resemble one that locals used at the fort to watch for German submarines during WWII. Fort George can be found at the corner of Harbour Drive and Fort Street and is free to visit.

Want to experience Cayman History? Come stay with us and explore the islands!
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