Wreck of The Ten Sail Event

The Cayman Islands most famous shipwreck is known as the Wreck of the Ten Sail. As part of our maritime heritage, all Cayman Islands-wrecked ships are legally protected.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
The frigate HMS Convert was accused of guarding a caravan of 58 shipper ships cruising from Jamaica to Europe in February of 1794. Armed protection became necessary because of the French Revolutionary War;In point of fact, the French had just taken Convert from them.

Six or seven of the merchants defied orders to sail ahead of Convert and sank on the reef that night. Convert’s crew heard their distress call at 3 a.m. on February 8 “Breakers ahead near us!”, from a topsail yard, a seaman cried. Convert’s captain, John Lawford, fired a warning shot at the rest of the convoy. While attempting to stay away, Convert was struck by another vessel, making her run onto the reef.

Ten sunk ships were visible in the morning light: Moorhall, Ludlow, Britannia, Richard, Nancy, Eagle, Sally, Fortune, and Convert are among the other characters.Many lives were saved when Caymanians offered any assistance they could.

Lhb1239, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Cumberland (1767), Weymouth (1845), Dene (1846), Glamis (1913), Ridgefield (1962), and Rimandi Mibaju (1964) are among the more than thirty ships that have perished on the East End reef.

The Cayman Islands offer tax-free living conditions to their residents; According to local legend, the Wreck of the Ten Sail is directly connected to the absence of taxation.

The legend states that one of the sons of Britain’s King George III was on the passenger list for each of the ten vessels. The legend goes on to say that when the King learned of the Caymanians’ bravery in saving the passengers and crews of the sinking ships, he decided to pay them back. The reward was a decree that the people of the Cayman Islands would no longer have to serve in the military or pay taxes.

However, there is no documented evidence that the decree was ever issued or that one of the ships contained a Royal Family member. Regardless, the legend lives on today and is frequently told to visitors, locals, and tourists alike in the Cayman Islands.

Lhb1239, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
A park commemorates the night of the shipwreck and the heroism of the locals who came to rescue those on all the ships.

Beginning with the Maritime Trail, which takes visitors to a view of the reef where the ships were lost, a cliff filled with perilous ironshore, and a brass and stone memorial to the dead.

In 1994, the 200th anniversary of the event, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, visited the location and dedicated the memorial plaque and park.

On an ironshore cliff with a viewing platform and a plaque, ten embedded cement blocks are below and next to the plaque.

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