Teacher, Storyteller, Boat-builder… Rebel
He’s worn a lifetime’s worth of hats: history teacher, Director of Tourism, theatre director, Speaker of the House and even a short-lived stint as a fisherman. Yet, through it all, David Carty always returned to his first love: boats. He’s never had a story he couldn’t find an interesting way to tell – from having to scavenge parts and fittings to build his first boat, to eventually being presented with, and ultimately declining, an offer to build a custom boat for Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, he shares his Rebel story.
How did you get into boats?
All my forebears on Anguilla were boat-builders or sailors, with the exception of my father. When we were little boys, my father regaled us with stories about anything to do with boats in Anguilla. Fishing boats, schooners, sloops, trading, going to Santo Domingo. From a very early age, I just hung around boats. There were some hilarious and disastrous attempts when we were teenagers to build things that we tried to make float, but it didn’t happen. I had no intention of becoming a professional boat-builder.
I did fairly well academically, and got a scholarship to the University of the West Indies, Mona. When I came home, I taught for 4 years at the high school. I loved almost every minute of it. I realized that I was a fairly good teacher, I got a good response from my students, I could connect with them.
A serious push into the tourism industry was made in the late 1970’s. The first Department of Tourism was set up in Wallblake House. I applied for the job of Tourism Officer and got it. In 18 months we pulled off the deal that created the Malliouhana Hotel, and then the acquisition of Maundays Bay, which set up the creation of what is, today, Cap Juluca.
We came up with the original slogan for Anguilla: ‘Tranquillity Wrapped in Blue’. Those were impactful years, differences were made, and I was fortunate enough to have been a part of it.
I was later made Director of Tourism, but the position was made redundant after a few months. There were a few other redundancies and the entire civil service went on strike for two weeks. I was out of a job, married with a little boy, so I took the EC$6000 gratuity that I was paid after the redundancy, and I put together an 18-foot boat to go fishing.
A very youthful David with his very first boat, Rebel
I called it Rebel, not because of Anguilla as the rebel island, but because of the civil service that had rebelled, on principle, in our defence. My cousin and I went fishing for lobsters one day, caught a few, and were able to pay for some traps. A gentleman came to me a week later and said ‘I want to buy the boat’. I didn’t take him seriously. A day later his son came to me with US$3000 cash! When I counted it, I said ‘Hold on. I’m no fisherman…I even get seasick sometimes. I didn’t even put $1000 of materials into the boat, and he’s offering $3000?’ I thought, ‘there was something here’.
A while after, I had the chance to go to Antigua on the famous boat, Warspite, to buy some lumber to build another boat. I was getting ready to build that boat, when an American asked me to build him a boat and gave me a deposit. It was then, that the penny dropped. I went to my cousin, Don Mitchell [Q.C.], and he helped me set up the company Rebel Marine.
What happened to the ‘Rebel’?
I got it back years later, but it had almost completely rotted. We were able to save the frames. We’re rebuilding it now.