The Ghost of Navy Island

06 Feb

Dear Errol Fans,

        I want to relay a true story that I originally told to Steve and Genene Randall (the authors of the 'Tassie Devil' website) some years back, and they were kind enough to post it on the site.

       As I have said, I have been to traveling to Port Antonio since about 1979 and one of my favorite spots was the Admiralty Club at the now abandoned Navy Island resort. In those days, the place was a small paradise. There was a lovely little pocket sized beach on the W. side with a pier and a beach bar. You could dive off the pier, swim about 50 ft. and there the water became very shallow and there was a spot about 40 ft. in diameter where the water was only 3 or 4 inches deep with dazzling soft white coral sand underneath. You could lie down and feel the hot sun and cooling water at the same time. There were no waves larger than an inch or so and the view of the Blue Mountains in the distance was strikingly beautiful. I often said that was my most favorite place in the whole world.(And I have yet to find a better one.)

     A man named Harry Eiler owned it and lived in one of the Polynesian style cottages with a lovely view of the Titchfield peninsula. The Club had an 'Errol Flynn Room' full of posters and memento's, and even rare photos of Errol at the first Port Antonio Blue Marlin Tournament. (I've never seen it anywhere else or since) The restaurant and bar were top notch and the view was also first-rate. I took some friends I had met who were from Edinburgh, Scotland (Aiden and Charlotta Daye) to lunch there, followed by a day at the beach and they were very impressed.

     The next time I traveled there, everything had changed. The resort was closed down and a Hurricane had wreaked havoc on most everything. I walked up the stairs to the club to find the door wrenched open and walked in. It was heart breaking to see the Errol Flynn room stripped of all photos, trash strewn everywhere, windows broken, etc. Not wanting to see more, I left quickly and took the opportunity to try and find the 'Errol Flynn House' I had heard was on the E. side of the island. The road was still passable and I started walking.I took my time and looked into the now vacant cottages and marveled at the construction. They were basically large, round thatch-roofed huts with a telephone sized pole in the center holding up the roof. They measured about 30 ft. tall and 40 to 50 ft. in diameter. Partitions separated the living spaces and it looked like a very pleasant, spacious design.

          I continued on, basically gawking like a regular tourist, not knowing what I was looking for but looking anyway. At this point I came upon what looked like an outdoor church with an alter and pews set in the grass, opposite there was an enormous cottonwood tree and a large grass covered field beyond. It was at this point that the most uncomfortable feeling came over me that I have ever had. It was a terror, a chill that went right up my spine. The fact that it was sunny and calm made it all the more terrifying. I then noticed that I did not hear any birds chirping or any other sound.(which was very unnatural in that part of the world.) I tried to shake it off and continue, but two steps into it another wave even more (much more) powerful hit me with an almost physical force and I stopped in my tracks. This time I was afraid, very afraid. I felt chilled. I could not see anything but something was RIGHT THERE. I think it was almost like cold Death or something damn near like it. The hair on my entire body felt as if it was on end, and there was nothing I could do about it. I remember the overwhelming feeling of 'helplessness' I had, even today. Now note that I am not a superstitious man and I'm used to being on my own so this was not at all normal. After being frozen in place for what seemed to be an eternity, I turned around very slowly and started walking back the way I came, slowly at first, then broke into a full run. I did not stop or look back until I was back at the Admiralty Club pier, out of breath, wild eyed, and looking ever which way.

          I jumped in the water and swam to the mainland. (Where the Errol Flynn Marina is now) It was there I tried to get a little of my dignity back. I cursed myself for 'being afraid of nothing'(after all, I was a grown man of 23 yrs. and had been in plenty of 'close scrapes' and had come out O.K.) and gradually attempted to regain my swagger. The bad feeling seemed to fade and my heartbeat returned to something akin to normal. Later at the Scotia Inn were I was staying, I casually mentioned it to the lady of the house.(Miss Phyllis) I have never seen a black person turn gray before, but she did. She said the island was haunted and to never go there alone or at night. She was almost as afraid as I had been. She said the locals steer clear of the place for just that reason. I asked who the ghost was and she said many people think it is Errol Flynn's ghost. I don't know about that, but whatever it was, it was NOT friendly.

         Many years later I read about Ricky Nelson encountering an'evil spirit' in Errol's house in L.A.(which he bought) and how it was also malevolent. I then read about how Errol had taken Beverly Aaland to Navy Island and swore an oath of marriage at the foot of a large cottonwood tree, circled the tree and then lay down in the soft grass and made love.(just months before his death) I kept this little secret to myself for years before telling the 'Tassie Devil' folks. Now I'm telling you. Maybe it was all in my head, or maybe I was on sacred ground, who knows? I have learned by painful example to trust my instincts and intuition and I believe if I had ignored it, that something terrible would have happened. What I felt that day was real, and nobody will ever convince me different. I do know that is the only time in my life anything like that has ever happened.(thank Christ!) I have since made the trip again and I had no ill feelings whatsoever but let me tell you, it took all the courage I could scrape together to walk past that same place, even years later. I wrote in my travel manuscript:” Now there are no ghosts on my island”. That, I guess is a metaphor of sorts. One note though, even though I planned to, I cannot bring myself to stay the night there. After all, even a non-superstitious man has to draw the line somewhere!


— john


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  1. Anonymous

    February 6, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Hi John;
    This is an extremely eerie encounter of yours – to say the very least. Looking at your picture you sure don't look like that anything could frighten you very easily! I am not a person who readily believes astonishing news, happenings, encounters or any out of the ordinary occurrences, but I believe in ghosts. Sounds weird, as I am a much down to earth person, but I had some encounters with ghosts myself.
    True or not true, it is said that ghosts, which roam the earth have not found their way to eternal peace, they have unfinished matters left behind and are unable to cross over. One can only wonder!
    Thank you for sharing your encounter with us!