The Maritime Heritage of the Cayman Islands

Roger C. Smith

Foreword by James C. Bradford and Gene A. Smith

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“The first illustrated nautical history of the Caymans. . . . This book is for those interested in the sea and the history of the Caribbean and for travelers who wish to learn more about the Caymans and their wonderful resources.”—Colonial Latin American Historical Review
 
“A handsome volume indeed. There are wonderful photographs and illustrations, and Smith is a fine writer. Maritime historians, archaeologists, and scholars of the Caribbean will find much of interest here.”—International Journal of Maritime History  
 
“Fascinating information.”—Choice
 
“Smith’s pursuit of the island’s history is impressive; he supplements two decades of fieldwork identifying and investigating more than seventy shipwrecks and terrestrial sites with extensive documentary material drawn from British, French, Dutch, and Spanish archives and oral histories.”—New West Indian Guide

"Neatly summarizes the history and archaeology of these small islands located at the crossroads of the Caribbean, covering an array of topics as diverse as crocodiles and pirates, the simultaneous wrecking of 10 ships on a treacherous reef, the building of sloops and schooners, and the importance of sea turtles as a food source for colonists and mariners. There is a little bit of everything here, and it is all fascinating."—Kevin Crisman, Texas A&M University

"A fascinating story of how the sea molded the lives of people inhabiting the small and isolated Cayman Islands. . . . The perfect blend of archaeology and history."—William Keegan, curator of Caribbean archaeology, Florida Museum of Natural History

Blending elements of geography, archaeology, and ethnography, this readable, illustrated history offers a fascinating portrait of all aspects of Caymanian nautical traditions and describes how an intrepid and independent group of islanders flourished on the frontiers of the sea.
 
From the moment of their discovery by Europeans in 1503, the Caymans were recognized for their abundance of sea turtles, a resource that supported the colonization of the West Indies and fostered the development of a distinctive group of sea-hardened people whose nautical skills were known throughout the world. Roger C. Smith follows the mysterious tracks of the sea turtles and the mariners who hunted them, from the shores of the Caymans to the coastal lagoons of Cuba and finally to the Miskito Cays of Nicaragua. He also pursues the colonial exploits of privateers and pirates, examines the development of island catboats and schooners, and takes the reader underwater to the sites of unlucky ships that wrecked on poorly charted reefs.

Roger C. Smith served as state underwater archaeologist for the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research for three decades. He is the author of many books, including Florida’s Lost Galleon: The Emanuel Point Shipwreck.
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'This book is a comprehensive micro study of wider general interest. Well done on the whole, and the product of much historical research, the general style is occasionally reminiscent of the National Geographic magazine."- The Mariner's Mirror, Society for Nautical Research
--The Mariner's Mirror

"[It] is likely to appeal to a wide audience that includes general readers as well as those with a more specialized or academic interest in the maritime heritage of the Caribbean. Overall, this is a valuable contribution to maritime history and underwater archaeology, all the more so because it is an entertaining read. " - Historical Archaeology
--Historical Archaeology

"This is the inaugural volume of a series, "New Perspectives on Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology," and it is a handsome volume indeed. There are wonderful photographs and illustrations, and Smith is a fine writer. Maritime historians, archaeologists, and scholars of the Caribbean will find much of interest here. Readers who know Cayman, or who have visited the islands and taken an interest in Caymanian culture and history, will also find a great deal to absorb in this book." - International Journal of Maritime History
--International Journal of Maritime History

"This is the first volume in a new series entitled New Perspectives on Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology. It is a splendid start." :based not only on nautical archaeology, oral history, and secondary sources but also on archival documents that Smith found in Great Britain, Jamaica, and Spain." "the reader will find much of interest in this well-researched, well-written, and well-illustrated work." - American Neptune
--American Neptune

"Smith's pursuit of the island's history is impressive; he supplements two decades of fieldwork identifying and investigating more than seventy shipwrecks and terrestrial sites with extensive documentary material drawn from British, French, Dutch, and Spanish archives and oral histories taken from elderly islanders." "Smith adds considerably to our knowledge of this historiographically neglected corner of the Caribbean."
--New West Indian Guide

"reads like a novel that compells the reader to turn each page to find out what happens next . . . A priceless jewel that belongs in every library."
--Pirates and Privateers: The History of Maritime Piracy

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