Navy Island, Jamaica

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Navy Island is a small (64 acres) island off the coast of Port Antonio in Portland Parish, Jamaica, formerly owned by actor Errol Flynn.

The island was once owned by movie pirate Errol Flynn and hosted many wild Hollywood parties. Until fairly recently, the Island has been maintained as a tourist resort and attraction, with a club bar, beaches, water sports facilities, marina, wedding chapel and African style cottages.

Originally the island was given to Governor Lynch of Jamaica for services to the Crown and named, "Lynch's Island". Subsequently it was used by the Royal Navy (hence the new name) for a gun battery at the eastern end to complement the fort built on the mainland. After going through many hands, Errol Flynn purchased (or won it gambling) and used it for his private retreat. He planted the long row of Royal Palms which remain today as one of the most beautiful stands of such trees available. He never had a home on the island but moored his yacht, "Zaca" at the island which offered a thatch-covered structure built around an existing tree. The "Governor", a local, was a full-time caretaker and he lived in the only 'real' house on the island at that time. In time, Len Koutnik, a land developer from Los Angeles, purchased the island and planned an up scale vacation retreat with unusual tropical homes under the aegis, "Jamaica Islandia". Pressed by the Jamaican Government to begin some construction on this most desirable location, Koutnik was forced to lower his expectations for ultra posh accommodations. Friends in Studio City, Mr and Mrs Harry Eiler, were the first to purchase and build one of the circular homes featured on the island.

A few other hardy investors added similar homesites and finally Mr & Mrs Joseph Casey, of Rhode Island, joined with Koutnik to start construction of a hotel and surrounding rental villas. Unfortunately, Mr. Koutnik ran out of funds and eventually the Caseys took control of the project. However, the planned construction was never completed and only the rudimentary foundations and walls were left for years - unfinished. After Mr. Casey's death from cancer, his widow, Gertrude, offered the Eilers a lease on the entire island so that they could complete construction and operate the only private island resort in Jamaica - The Admiralty Club. After five years of operation, a disgruntled employee who was fired because he was stealing funds riled up the entire staff and took over the island. The staff commandeered the two boats used to ferry guests to the island and held the Eilers at bay until they received all their termination pay. After this terrifying experience, the Eilers left the island within a week and it was allowed to operate under local supervision by Mrs. Casey. In time, other investors became interested; however, a stipulation which required that anyone could make available to themselves the amenities of the resort as if they were a guest makes it undesirable to operate as an upscale resort. In addition, there is provision for a Public Beach right amid the circle of rental villas which destroys any privacy for private use. This results in dissuading investors to proceed with the island's development.

In time, the island was closed by the Government which bought out all the remaining titles and it remains today as a derelict on one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. Prevalent signs that the ruins of a large Jamaican Great House were once occupied by Errol Flynn or the site of Ian Fleming are totally false. The Round House was built by Mr and Mrs William R. Tritt of Santa Barbara, California in 1970, and was used by the Eilers as their residence - allowing their original vacation home to be one of the premium rentals on the island. Ian Fleming never set foot on the island - although Captain Bligh did use the shallows facing the mainland as a 'careening station" (when they turn the hulls of ships to make them available for scraping off barnacles, etc.). Although the first attempt to bring breadfruit to Jamaica ended in mutiny, Bligh made a second successful expedition but this was not in HMS Pandora. Captain Edward Edwards commanded the Pandora on its mission to capture and bring home the mutineers but the ship was wrecked on the way home with some loss of life...including some of the mutineers.

Coordinates: 18°11′N 76°28′W / 18.183°N 76.467°W / 18.183; -76.467