Keys Weekly first met Capt. Gary Stanyer in late July, when he and hundreds of others in the U.S. received a mysterious — and unsolicited — package in the mail containing unidentified seeds from China. Thought to be a marketing scam, agriculture officials warned recipients not to plant the unknown seeds. Stanyer graciously let us photograph his bizarre mail. That’s when we realized this boat captain from Zimbabwe not only has one of the best accents in town, but also one of the coolest jobs on the planet. As owner operator of Dolphin Safari Charters, Stanyer takes enthusiastic guests out on a boat every day to watch bottlenose dolphins play, jump and smile in their natural habitat. It’s tough to be miserable when a dolphin jumps up to show off right next to your boat.
Cool accent. Where are you from? Zimbabwe.
Where do most people mistakenly think you’re from? Alabama (just kidding!)
What did you do in Zimbabwe before coming to the States? I was a Xerox technician.
You’ve got one of the coolest jobs in the world. What do you do here in Key West? I’m the owner, operator and captain of Dolphin Safari Charters. We take people out to watch dolphins in their native habitat. It’s an amazing thing to see.
When did you start Dolphin Safari Charters? 15 years ago.
How did you get into dolphins and wild-dolphin experiences? I’d been selling real estate when I got to Key West. But then I got a divorce, decided on a change.
Tell us about your bracelet. Is it leather? The bracelet is made from crocodile. I wear one on my ankle as well, which is not to be confused with a house-arrest ankle monitor. I have had people think that.
What was in the most recent Amazon package that arrived at your house? (I promise I won’t judge. Hell, I got two packages on Friday: Six bottles of wine and a case of Swiffer heavy duty dust pads. Surely you can beat THAT.) It was an inflatable alien costume that looks like the alien is carrying the person wearing it. It was supposed to be for the Zombie Bike Ride, which was canceled. Grrr.
What 20-second anecdote would you share with Alex Trebek on your first Jeopardy appearance? “Hi, my name is Gary Stanyer. I’m from Zimbabwe and this is my go-to saying: Live the life you love; love the life you live and if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
What TV commercial, show or character makes you immediately change the channel? ( I, for example, despise Flo with every fiber of my being.) I hate any commercials about plastics, as they end up in the ocean
What makes you laugh out loud? Indian accents when you call Apple support and the tech guy says his name is “John.”
Where were you living/working at age 30? Key West. I had just started Dolphin Safari Charters, offering wild-dolphin watching encounters.
What quality do you dislike most in others? In yourself? Saying you will do something and not doing it. I am always on time and hate waiting on others.
If you were given $2 million to give away, what organizations, individuals or causes would you support to do the most good? Surfrider and ocean relief.
Dogs or cats? Both or neither? Tell us about the dog you have now and his/her embarrassing little habit when “greeting” people. Dogs, but big ones. I have a Rhodesian ridgeback, as Zimbabwe was formerly called Rhodesia. And she smells everyone’s crotch straight away, as soon as they enter the house. It can be a bit embarrassing; for me — the dog doesn’t see anything wrong with it.
Drink of choice? Veuve Clicquot
What kitchen gadget do you use most often? Least often? I use the ice dispenser most, specifically for my Yeti cup on the boat. I use my pots and pans least often — I hate to cook.
Do you speak any languages other than English? Zulu
Answer any question you WISH I had asked. Why Key West, Florida from Zimbabwe? I came here because I watched that movie “True Lies” with Arnold Schwarzenegger and at 21 years old, figured why not? So i came to Miami, bought a motorbike and rode over the Seven-Mile Bridge with 500 bucks and a backpack — no cell phone; no credit card. And now look at me. Only in America. Work hard and you can have the world.