The National Trust this week teamed up with the Seafarers Association to mark the International Day of the Seafarer, where the men who went to sea shared stories of their experiences on the ships.
“In 1947 I went to Tampa and got on my first ship,” recalled Captain Paul Hurlston.
More than seven decades on, the memories are still fresh. Then just 16-years-old, Mr. Hurlston was manning 12/4 watch on an unrefrigerated banana boat off Puerto Barrio Guatemala.
“The current was taking the ship off the dock and the chief engineer fell overboard, I had a life ring and, a heavy line, and I threw it over the side, he got hold of it,” said Mr. Hurlston.
His quick thinking saved the chief engineer, but it took five years for Mr. Hurlston to get his thank you, when the same chief engineer complimented his attentiveness on watch on a different ship. This time in the waters of Trinidad.
“That’s very important. I fell overboard one time on a ship down in Puerto Barrio, and I never did know the person who rescued me, he said I would really like to find him and I wish I could thank him, and I said you can start thanking me now,” said Mr. Hurlston.
“There was a particular guy from West Bay who I didn’t really know,” recalled Seafarers Association President Denniston Tibbetts.
That man, who couldn’t read or write, recruited Mr. Tibbetts to write a letter to his wife.
“I said sir, now you got to tell me what to tell your wife, and he said you want to tell my wife, you want to know my business or what?” said Mr. Tibbetts, who burst into laughter at the recollection.
But Darvin Ebanks said for many Caymanian seafarers, there was nothing better than coming home.
“It was absolutely fantastic to see the way the Cayman people cared for the seamen when they came back to Cayman, it was just unbelievable,” said Mr. Ebanks.