sometimes known as
"The Jungle Boy..." or
"Indiana Dan, da' Island Man"
For several years I lived alone on "Little Stirrup Cay", a secluded little island about a mile long and 1/3 of a mile wide in the northwest Berry Islands
(map) of the Bahamas (map) about 55 miles south of Freeport, and 55 miles north of Nassau. (A message in a bottle came from Latitude: 26' 01.37N, Longitude: 078' 21.06W, although GeoCaching.com points to a more accurate N 25° 49.057, W 077° 56.201) I lived as caretaker of the island for a friend of mine who owned the island.
When I lived on the island between 1980 and 1985, I lived in a thatched hut, cooked over a campfire, ate coconuts, lemons, turtlegrass seaweed, and whatever sharks, stingrays, grouper, or lobster I could spear, and basically lived like Robinson Crusoe. Most of the time I wore a Tarzan
loincloth , and my hair got bleached really blonde from the sun and salt water.
People ask if I was the original "Survivor" or if I was there to 'find myself' or 'get my head screwed on right' or 'find God'? And I would always tell them, "No, I am very happy with the way God made me, and I enjoy myself. And God had already found me, and we have a great relationship. As a matter of fact, I spent most of my time very close to Him, since there was nobody else to talk to!"
Was I the original "Survivor"? Who knows? All I know is that I was "a" survivor, and I really enjoyed it! Why not? I was living on a beautiful deserted island in the Bahamas! What else could you ask for?
Two years later, I went back and managed the island again, as well as the Out-Island Activities department for Eastern/Admiral Cruise Lines. This time, from 1985 to 1987, I lived on both Little Stirrup Cay and on the cruise ship the S.S. Emerald Seas. During this period, I started a dive program on the island, a pirate treasure hunt and thatch train ride, bought paddle boats, wind-surfers, and six peacocks for the island, and ran a crew of 7 divers and about a dozen Bahamians and Haitians who worked on the island with us.
In my spare time, I also enjoyed playing "pans" (steel drums) and keyboards with a little Island band I put together with crew members on the cruise ship. Since I was a scuba instructor in charge of the dive program, most of the local Bahamians, passengers, crew members, and even the Captain usually just called me "Diver Dan".
Since then, the cruise lines bought the island and renamed it Cocoa Cay. They have also remodeled the island and tried to create an inner harbor - From what I have heard, it has almost caused the island to erode in half. Maybe you've visited it on a cruise on the S.S. Emerald Seas or recently with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines?
If you were a passenger on one of the 200+ cruises I was on from 1985-1987, or if you have recently visited Little Stirrup Cay (Cocoa Cay), please drop me an e-mail to just say "Hi!" and send photos or recollections of the island!
History of the S.S. Emerald Seas:
- An unusual looking ship at various stages of her career, the Atlantis was originally built in Kearny, NJ in 1944 as the wartime troopship General W.P. Richardson.
- She was rebuilt after the war as the American Export Lines' La Guardia, for services from the US to the Mediterranean. She was not very successful, being very expensive to operate.
- After further trooping to Korea in the 1950s, and a period as Hawaiian Textron Lines' Leilani, she was sold to American President Lines as the President Roosevelt.
- In 1970 she was bought by Chandris Lines who cut her down to two decks above the waterline before completely rebuilding the upper hull and superstructure.
- She began cruising out of New York as the Atlantis, but was again found to be too expensive to operate.
- In 1972 she was sold to Eastern Steamship Lines as the S.S. Emerald Seas in exchange for their Ariadne, which moved to Chandris Lines to become their Bon Vivant.
- Eastern Steamship Lines, became Eastern Cruise Lines, then in 1986 changed names again to Admiral Cruise Line, both times with changes in funnel colors.
- Admiral Cruise Line was acquired by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, who disbanded the company and disposed of the older ships, including the Emerald Seas in 1992.
- She has since operated as a hotel ship in various ports, including a short spell in Lisbon for their Expo '98 as the Ocean Explorer I.
- According to Captain Daniel Zenicazelaya, someone told him that the S.S. Emerald Seas was cemented somewhere in Greece as a hotel, although he was not sure how accurate this information was.
- The most recent news of the S.S. Emerald Seas according to Captain Daniel Zenicazelaya from a reliable source (Oct 2004): "The news about the fate of the Emerald Seas is very sad. She was sold to an Indian company for scrap metal. The Indian Engineers who came to Greece could not start the Engine Rooms and they asked for the help of Mr. John Skoularikis (1st Assistant Engineer). Right now she must be on her way to India..."
- Here is a pdf document with the last known photo of the SS Emerald Seas in the process of being dismantled (photo in lower right hand corner). Recognize the blue and red smoke stacks? Sad picture for those of us who knew and loved her well.
- Here is a page that gives the history of the S.S. Emerald Seas throughout her life.
Update on Crewmembers and Staff of the SS Emerald Seas:
- If you worked on the SS Emerald Seas between 1985-88, please join our SS Emerald Seas Facebook Group, and let us know of any other crew/staff you know about!
- Neil Ruzic, original owner of Little Stirrup Cay and OutIsland Adventures, died of cancer on January 20, 2004 in Michigan City, IN.
- Dan Meyer ("Diver Dan"), former Manager of Little Stirrup Cay and Out-Island Adventures is a married in Hartselle, AL and works as a professional sword swallower and fire-eater around the world. You can reach him at Halfdan@aol.com, on Twitter @Halfdan, and on Facebook and YouTube.
- Jeff Lyons ("SeaLyon"), Assistant Manager of Little Stirrup Cay and OutIsland Adventures ('85/'86) is married to his wife Sue and are raising their 3 boys in Asheville, NC.
- Pirate Philip Daye Jr. ("Blackbeard the Pirate") ('86/'87) got married on January 3, 2004 to his beautiful wife Shirley, and they live with their two boys in Coral Springs, FL.
- Diver Jon Foege ("Johnny Spin-hard Drano") ('86) lives in Naples, FL and sells art on cruise ships with his wife Carmen.
- Diver Ray Bellarosa ('87) lives with his wife and children in New Jersey.
- Diver Erik Neugaard ('86/'87) completed his MS in marine biology, has 3 sons and a daughter, and is a Lead Environmental Scientist in Ft. Lauderdale.
- Diver Chris Brown ('87) is married and lives in Michigan with his 6 children.
- Cruise Directors Jody Rapchik ('73-'88) and Randy Gaughan are living in Boca Raton, Florida with their daughter Brooklyn.
- Assistant Cruise Director Gil Sevill and his wife Peta are alive and well and living in Europe since 1999, splitting time between homes in England and Spain.
- Keyboard player Mo Hubbard played piano at Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, and now lives in Memphis, TN.
- Singer Bonnie Earl lives in Charleston SC.
- Singer/Dancer and Hostess "CC" Carolyn Clark ('84-'89) is married and living in Norway with her husband and two children.
- Steel Drum player Bill Bonaparte passed away in 2004.
- Comedian Greg Davidson does motivational speaking seminars around the country and lives with his wife Jane in Roswell, GA.
- DJ Bob Leininger went on to work as Asst Cruise Director and Cruise Director on a number of other ships for many years and is now writing a book on the subject.
- Captain Daniel Zenicazelaya originally from Madrid, Spain is now retired and living in Nassau, Bahamas.
- Kip King, Chief Mate on Bridge of the Emerald Seas left the Emerald Seas in 1990, retired from cargo ships in 1993, became a Port Everglades pilot, and then re-retired and moved to Montana.
- Kathy Rathgaber, who used to be the Staff Captain is now a Pilot in Alaska.
- Sue York ("Nurse Susan") is now Sue Dean, married and living in Hawaii with a son - her email is firstname.lastname@example.org
- Manuel Rivas and Carlos Bouzon are both working for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.
- Lisa Doran (Purser's Office) is married to Miguel Canda and they live in Miami - her email is Batplmiami@aol.com
- Anyone know what has happened to Diver Mark Yandel? If so, drop me an e-mail!
- If you worked on the SS Emerald Seas between 1985-88, please join our SS Emerald Seas Facebook Group
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