( Grand Turk )
The western side of Grand Turk is the leeward side of the island. This is the side protected from high winds and storms. Because of this, it was the primary anchorage for the sailing vessels that came and went from Grand Turk for hundreds of years.
The west coast is littered with artifacts left by these ships. Anchors, cannons, stone ballast, and even bottles lay sometimes within a few feet of shore. These remnants of our maritime past can be seen almost anywhere you snorkel on the west side of Grand Turk.
Why Did People Settle Here?
From 1678 to 1964 there was one export in Grand Turk, sea salt. Bermudians, in their first sailing sloops, came seasonally and then settled permanently in the 1790s. The salt shipped from the Turks Islands was an important part of the British Atlantic trade system. When loading, ships anchored inside the western reef and small lighters transferred the salt from huge piles stored near the downtown dock.
ot all anchors found along the coast are evidence of a wreck. Crews occasionally had to cut their anchors away. One of the earliest references to a ship at Grand Turk notes the loss of an anchor.
Ships Log: Henry
Friday, January 28th 1865 Fair weather to the north. Early our boat to the Northern Key to see if there was any salt made. Between 9:00 and 10:00 had a tornado at WNW blowing very fresh which occasioned us to let go our grapnel and chain under boat. At 11:00 the boat returned from the Northern Key bringing with them several Iguanas, but found no salt.
What You Can See Here...
he schooner David Morris was driven ashore during the hurricane in 1926. The remnants of this shipwreck can still be seen just off the seawall in front of the National Museum. There are also two anchors embedded in the coral nearby.
Behind you, the National Museum has displays and artifacts that include our unique maritime past. This includes the Molasses Reef Wreck, the oldest ship to ever to be found in the Western Hemisphere.