Perched on an ocean bluff in East End is a memorial to the iconic 1794 event, the Wreck of the Ten Sail. This legendary shipwreck occurred when 10 vessels from a large British convoy crashed on Cayman’s fringing reef.
The Wreck of the Ten Sail dates to the French Revolutionary Wars, a series of conflicts which pitted Britain against the newly-formed French Republic. During this time, ships often travelled in large convoy for safety.
In 1794, Captain John Lawford of the HMS Convert was tasked with overseeing a convoy of 58 merchant ships sailing from Jamaica and bound mainly for Europe. While headed westward one night, Lawford awoke to the alarming sound of a cannon-fire distress signal. He tried to turn the fleet around, but breakers pushed the vessels towards the island.
The people of East End lost no time in paddling their canoes out to assist the crew. According to records, 450 passengers were saved and only six lost their lives. Legend has it that one of the passengers was a prince who granted Cayman its tax-exempt status in return for the people’s heroism.
The memorial was dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994. The surrounding six stones pay tribute to those few who did not survive