Fulfilling a childhood dream when he bought Walker’s Cay, owner of 49 metre Westport superyacht Gigi and 55 metre Damen support vessel Axis Carl Allen tells BOAT he’s passed that love on to the next generation...
What boats do I have right now? Oh, gosh, my first boat, a 49 metre Westport superyacht, named after my wife, Gigi. I even bought it on her birthday, which did help my project. That same year, 2016, we were at the boat show. Off in the distance, I could see hundreds of people climbing all over the 55 metre Damen. I walked up to it, said that’s the one I want right there and walked away.
We were one of the first to turn it into a yacht support vessel. Named Axis, she is a big metal boat, draws three metres, holds 60,000 gallons of diesel and is a perfect platform for exploration. We keep our Triton submarine and Icon A5 seaplane on board. Gigi is our home and Axis is our workhorse. Of course, we built guest suites and accommodations for our 11 crew members. I put about as much into it as I paid for it. We also have Fluid, a RIB with a couple of big Yamahas, and a mini-tender for Fluid called Chuck Norris. I have a 12 metre SeaVee with triple Mercs, but my favourite is a 21 metre Viking that we use for deep-sea fishing.
I saw the ocean for the first time when I was about 12. My stepfather’s buddy had a trawler so one day he takes me for a six-hour ride to Walker’s Cay (in the Abacos). The docks were robust with fishing boats, outdoor grills were going, the restaurant and bar were buzzing; I fell in love with the island that day.
I remember struggling in school, staring out the window and dreaming of Walker’s. I wanted to live there the rest of my life. In 2018, 42 years later, I was able to buy it. We had our first tournament a few months ago and it was magical. I hope to do four or five a year. Our marina has 80 slips and can handle all vessels, from centre consoles up to 60 metre superyachts. Hurricane Dorian delayed the project but that was just a road bump compared to the pandemic. The economy in this country is 80 percent tourism. We have become very close to our neighbors on Little Grande, helping the 500 inhabitants with anything we can do, from rebuilding to school supplies.
My favourite cruising grounds are the Exumas, the water colour where the bonefish meet the billfish is incredible. The plastic pollution is worrisome, however – I come from the plastic industry so I know the good, the bad and the ugly. Plastic is solar degradable, it will shrink and crumble like a potato chip, but that plastic dust could enter the plankton digestive system.
I have two granddaughters, Gigi and Vivianne. Gigi thinks the yacht is named after her and Vivianne is bummed because she doesn’t have a boat. Even at six and four years old, you should see how they have adapted to island life. Gigi can hold a fishing pole all day. One day they played for hours with a little octopus. They looked for that octopus unsuccessfully for the remaining two weeks. When I heard about the film My Octopus Teacher, I thought it was going to be corny, but I have to say I could relate; it’s a fascinating story.