On Board John Wayne's Yacht, Wild Goose
First, we had to explain to my kids that John Wayne was a real person who was famous actor known mostly for his cowboy movies and famous drawl. He's not just a statue that you see at the John Wayne Airport in Orange County. That is how they know him. Then we had to explain how John Wayne made his home in Newport Beach and that he had a well known yacht that he loved named Wild Goose. Kids can make you feel old pretty fast.
All guests had access to walk through the yacht and see the various rooms. I remember reading how tall John Wayne was so, all I could think of was how he must have had to duck... a lot, to get through the doors and just walk around some of the rooms. The ceilings were pretty low. He must have spent a lot of time on decks. There was also a table where he used to play a lot of cards with his fellow actor friends. There must have been some pretty crazy bets around the card table in addition to their interesting conversations.
There was not a tour guide to show us around but there was plenty of time to explore before we set sail on a harbor cruise. The captain and some crew members were available to ask questions about the Wild Goose. Some of the guests had done their homework or were familiar with the yacht so they provided a lot of historical information. I did learn that it was a US Navy mine sweeper in WWII before it was converted into a personal yacht. The Wild Goose is actually on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hornblower Cruises purchased the Wild Goose and now offers dinner cruises for weddings and corporate events. There's a full bar on the bottom level and the top level has been converted for a seated dining area. It was fun to have dinner and sail through the Newport Harbor on a rainy January evening. The food was your average catered event food. Knowing the history and stories of the Wild Goose made for a fun evening.
If you want to know more about John Wayne and his yacht, here was a good article that speaks to the tough guy image and his love for the sea. Huell Howser also featured the Wild Goose in a California's Gold episode (#10009) about Newport Boats.
Living in Southern California means access to many places and things to do. So from time to time, I may write about some of the things I get to do besides going to Disneyland.