Carl Allen – a businessman, philanthropist and owner of multiple superyachts – has announced that he is planning to resurrect the marina on Walker’s Cay, the historic Bahamian island he recently purchased.
Walker’s Cay, a once-popular sportfishing location which attracted high-profile guests such as US President Richard Nixon, actress Jane Fonda and The Who’s Roger Daltrey, was abandoned in 2004 after catastrophic hurricane damage.
Allen, who is the CEO of Allen Exploration, has been visiting the island – the northernmost island in the Bahamas – since he was 12, and described his relationship with it as a “love affair”.
"I've been going out there since I was a little kid," Allen said. "Walker's was destroyed by two hurricanes back-to-back and was closed to the public in 2005. Since then I've dreamed of working together with Bahamians to build Walker's back to its former glory. I decided it would be a good base for my fleet."
Allen’s fleet includes 50-metre (164-foot) Westport superyacht Gigi, 55-metre (180-foot) Damen support vessel Axis, and a Viking 52 Open Express Frigate. The revitalised island and marina will be a base for his yacht fleet, which will be kept at Walker’s Cay when not in use.
Although its primary use will be for Allen’s private fleet, the marina will also be open to the public. It will be able to accommodate six superyachts up to 55 metres in length, as well as a number of sportfishing yachts up to 27 metres.
As part of the phased restoration, Allen and his team will be fixing the marina and its infrastructure and dredging the basin to create a 3.9-metre draft. Power will also be restored, an anaerobic digester will be installed to compact waste into small cubes, and a large water desalinisation plant will be built to ensure a ready supply of fresh water. Once work is complete, Walker’s Cay will be a zero-waste island.
Allen is aiming for the marina to be ready for summer 2019, with other plans – such as the re-openings of the church, local store and bar – being worked on in later phases. Instead of a hotel, as the island boasted previously, Allen is considering building villas instead so that the location retains an intimate, personal feel. Pavilions for fishing events will also be constructed in the coming years, with work due to be fully completed in 2020.
As well as sportfishing – blue marlins weighing over 500 pounds have been caught in the area – Walker’s Cay is known for its diving and surfing spots. "I found out there's a surf break off Walker's that ranks up there as one of the top in the world," Allen noted.
The creation of jobs has also been one of the main forces behind Allen’s decision to purchase and renovate Walker’s Cay.
"I've spent more time in the Bahamas than anywhere else other than my home,” Allen explained. “My wife, Gigi, and I, as well as our children, love this country and have been blessed and privileged to make so many friends here. Taking on the re-development of Walker's is a dream come true for our family.
“I've learned in my business career that with a great team you can accomplish great things. We plan to work together with folks here to restore Walker's Cay and envision this rebuild as a partnership with the Bahamians to create jobs – good paying and secure jobs – strengthen families and develop a lasting economic driver for future generations."