To say that the actor Errol Flynn had an eye for the ladies is like saying the artist Jackson Pollack had an appreciation for paint. While much has been made of Flynn's wicked, wicked ways (a phrase he proudly used as the title of his autobiography), his passion for the sea was just as great. In fact, he often took the helm of his yacht Zaca, a 118-foot schooner, on transoceanic voyages. It was during one such trip to the Galapagos in the 1940's that a storm blew him off course and he discovered "the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes upon."
That "woman" was Port Antonio, on the northeast coast of Jamaica. He fell in love with the town's simple charm and the natural, lush beauty of the area. His widow, Patrice Wymore Flynn, says that the people's willingness to let him come and go as he pleased, as if he were a regular person, added to his fondness of the town. He returned to Port Antonio whenever he could and even bought a hotel there in 1950, intending to rejuvenate tourism, which had slacked off in previous decades.
While other notable names, ranging from William Randolph Hearst to J.P. Morgan, also visited Port Antonio, it's Flynn who made his mark on the area. It's only fitting, then, that last summer the Marina at Port Antonio was renamed in his honor. And it's only fitting that, like him, those in search of a tranquil escape continue to head to this preserved piece of the Caribbean.
While the all-inclusive resorts in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Negril get the lion's share of the tourists, that's just fine with the folks at the marina, which opened in 2002. They and visitors alike feel Port Antonio embodies the spirit those picturesque towns used to reflect before they were overdeveloped and reconfigured to accommodate large cruise ships. Besides the mountainous scenery, the marina benefits from a protected harbor and a channel that, while permitting several deep-draft vessels, is too shallow for huge cruise ships to enter. The region also boasts world-class fishing; in fact, each October it hosts the Port Antonio Marlin Tournament, the oldest such tourney in the Caribbean, and draws participants from the Errol Flynn Marina. And in June the marina hosted the Panama-to-Jamaica leg of the Clipper 05/06 Round the World Yacht Race, attended by ten yachts and a few hundred crew.
If ever there was an opportunity to be in like Flynn, this is it.
Errol Flynn Marina
At a Glance | Errol Flynn Marina
Geographic coordinates: 1810'8"N, 7627'2"W
Customs and immigration: 24-hour services are on site; passports as well as a maritime declaration of health, movement report, crew list, and evidence of clearance from port of departure are required.
Slips: 32 for yachts to 350 feet LOA and a maximum draft of 17 feet.
Amenities: pumpouts at each berth, cable TV hookup, single- and three-phase electricity, fueling, plus 24-hour security. There’s also a boatyard equipped with the only 100-ton TraveLift in the northern Caribbean.
Extras: There’s Internet access at the Information Center. A crew bar and a swimming pool will keep everyone in your party happy. Shops and the restaurant Norma’s at the Marina are on site, too.
Don’t Miss Rio Grande Rafting: Whether you want to retrace the steps of Errol Flynn or just can’t get enough of the water, be sure to take Rio Grande Rafting’s two-and-a-half-hour trip through the rural countryside, passing everything from giant ferns to rock formations. Flynn himself started the explorations to entertain his guests. You’ll climb aboard a bamboo raft propelled by a local and be treated to beautiful views for several miles along the Rio Grand River, which is one of Jamaica’s largest. Be sure to take along your camera as well as your sweetie, as it’s tradition to give your lover a kiss when passing through the section known as Lover’s Lane. The cost is $45 per couple (one couple per raft); the marina can help you arrange your trip.
This article originally appeared in the March 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.