From the Errol Flynn Mailbag!

27 Nov

Our Author Jan Vandervliet passes on to us a mailbag item:


Errol Flynn Memorabilia?

This is the story that was told to me by an old friend of mine Bill Johnston now deceased.

I was given this Bronze deck capstan winch drum by Bill Johnston back in about 1972 he served in the Royal Australian Navy for 35 years and his position of rank was chief engineer, he told me while he was in the Navy his ship attended a sinking yacht which ran aground off the coast of Tasmania, he was allowed to go onto the vessel and retrieve anything he would like, so he was able to salvage this capstan winch drum.

As in the pic’s ….Casting marks AEFA90 …….. 9 ¾” dia at the base 6 ½” high top rim 7”

Bill told me the name of the Yacht was  ”Norab” (Baron spelt backwards)  He also told me this yacht was once owned by Errol Flynn, at the time I just took his word for it, but after doing some research on Google on the name “Norab” I find the vessel was built by Campbell Industries, San Diego CA in 1928, also I find it was also owned by the Millionaire “Baron Long” President of the Agua Caliente in Tijuana and lesser gambling establishments along the California-Mexico border in the 1920’s-30’s, sounds like a place Errol would visit!,  also the Baron would entertain many Movie Stars from that era on this Yacht, and
During World War II, he leased the yacht to the Army for $1.00, and General Douglas MacArthur used it as a floating headquarters.

Other info……. Norab. Motor vessel, 187/65 tons. # 196406. Built San Diego, USA, 1928; reg. Sydney 20/1954. Lbd 103.6 x 22.3 x 10.2ft.  Originally a motor yacht served in New Guinea waters during the Second World War as a hospital ship, then a privately owned fisheries research vessel when lost. Captain Thomas Warren. Caught in the strong tidal current and hit rocks when entering Macquarie Harbour to shelter, 3 December 1954. The master was forced to beach the vessel on a sand-bank inside the Heads behind Entrance Island. Salvage preparations were made however on 6 December she rolled onto her side; abandoned as a total wreck. So the yacht itself had a chequered career and no doubt this piece would have some historical significance.

I would be interested to hear any comments or any facts to disprove its authenticity, and as I see if the jury is still out as to how many yachts Errol owned?.



Thanks, Jan!


— David DeWitt


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  1. Tim

    November 27, 2013 at 4:08 am

    Thanks for the great info and images, Jan!!

    Errol definitely knew both Baron Long and the Narob. Long was one of the great characters & legends down (this way, where I am now researching such history) in San Diego & Baja, a territory Errol loved and often visited, by both boat and motorcar. Long knew all the biggest Hollywood stars in those days, including the most luminous and exciting of them all, Baron Flynn. … Long owned (part of) Caliente and the Jockey Club in Tijuana, the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego, the L.A. Biltmore, and the Vernon Country Club, inter alia. These were all top-shelf establishments. He also owned the Narob, pictured below.

    There’s so much that can about Long. It’s hard to make the Long story short, so to speak, so here’s excellent Long summary:

    On the Track of the Elusive Baron Long

    From the date and party gear, it looks like Baron and crew may be celebrating either All Saint’s Day late, or Revolution Day early!! (He owned much of Tijuana’s famous Revolution Boulevard, so it may be the latter!)