Friday, May 17, 2019

John Wayne's Newport Beach yacht celebrates The Duke's legacy

The Wild Goose had a well traveled past when actor John Wayne bought it and made it his traveling hotel.  Now, Hornblower Cruises invites the public to enjoy Wayne's yacht for a limited time through birthday dinner cruises with a gourmet meal,  theee hours of sailing and full access to the private quarters of the vessel.


John Wayne's card room and den have been preserved by Hornblower.


STEP ABOARD a luxury yacht, surrounded by John Wayne's movie memorabilia and personal effects from his film career and seafaring days. Hornblower Cruises offers a unique experience to commune with the spirit of actor John Wayne aboard the boat he captained.
While the star died in 1979, his spirit lives on aboard the Wild Goose, the yacht he bought, pampered and entertained on for  17 years. Wayne said she was his
John Wayne aboard the Wild Goose.  He loved
to navigate, and 
proudest possession.  He loved taking her to British Columbia and Mexico's coastal towns. He'd play cards, read and fish in stylish comfort, surrounded by magnificent woodwork, resting in his artful master bedroom and keeping an eye on his kids, whose bedroom was just down the hall.
MARION MORRISON was born May 26, 1907.  Known professionally as John Wayne, and nicknamed "Duke," he passed away on June 11, 1979. Besides being a much loved American actor and filmmaker, he was a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. He was also an accomplished seaman and spent his last days on his luxury yacht, a converted mine sweeper which saw service in World War II. After she was decommissioned, she was purchased by a private owner who a few years later sold her to Wayne.
For nearly 18 years, between movie shoots, the actor piloted the former Naval ship.  Because he was 6'4," he raised the ceilings in an elaborate remodeling project. He took his family and close friends to Alaska, British Columbia, Mexico and Catalina. When he filmed his last picture,
Wayne piloted the Wild Goose through Newport's colorful
harbor, making his way to Mexico or British Columbia. 
"The Shootist," in 1976, both he and his aging gunfighter screen character were dying of cancer.  Wayne spent quiet time resting aboard his beloved "Goose."  His last interview -- with Barbara Walters -- was aboard the boat.  Among his memorable quotes is one that fits his handling of illness: "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway."
The Wild Goose is available for charter, for private events up to 125 people. She is also open for John Wayne dinner cruises May 24-25, May 31, June 1, 7 and 8. It's lovely to move through the waters Wayne loved to navigate, beverage in hand, imagining former guests -- Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Rock Hudson, Frank Sinatra, Henry Fonda, Sammy Davis Jr., and other celebrities who shared Wayne's love of the water. Wayne's own custom designed bar is fully stocked and if you'd like Wild Goose momentos, check out the t-shirts, mugs and a lively book written by the ship's former captain, Bert Minshall. "On Board with the Duke." It's a fun read with anecdotes of travels on the ship with Wayne and his family and friends. 
Beautiful woodwork and carvings
adorn The Wild Goose.
The master bedroom is kept much as it was during John
Wayne's times aboard, including the nautical painting.
Besides the status of a National Register of Historic Places listing, the boat has the cache of having served as a playground and relaxing hideway for a legendary star.  Having access to the entire vessel including Wayne's private rooms, enhances the feeling that you're in the company of "The Duke" himself. It's a unique, pleasing time with a fabulous meal expertly prepared and served in several tasty and eye-catching courses.
From left, Cookie, Keller and their
friends Sue and Bob Hulbert, who
grew up around Newport.
Wayne enjoyed nautical paintings, and several of his own
collection are on the boat now. Portraits and posters of
the legendary star were added by Hornblower.
Wayne's family sometimes joins diners and movie buffs aboard Wild Goose. Daughter Marisa Wayne says it's satisfying to see that fans remember and appreciate her dad's movies. "His longevity is amazing.  He is still so loved and respected by so many people this many years after his death. I wish he was around to give me advice....or have a drink."
Cost is $103 per person, including a four-course gourmet meal, glass of  champagne and the incredible access to the entire yacht. Go to (and select Newport Beach).

Fallen sailors and Marines are forever beneath the waves and the
Arizona Memorial is directly over the sunken ship.
UP NEXT:  We remember Pearl Harbor with a visit to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Honolulu.  We toured the impressive complex and came away moved. The memorial complex pays careful attention to present both sides of the story, from the horrors of the 1941 bombing to the internment of Japanese Americans and the bombs that ended the war.  Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for a novel look at travel, the arts, nature, family and more.


  1. Birthday Boys from BostonMay 17, 2019 at 6:40 PM

    Delightful to know of this...we will book it!

  2. Pasadena Duke PalsMay 18, 2019 at 8:52 AM

    Lovely tribute Hornblower does. Ee enjoy every year.

  3. Wow. We grew up in Newport Beach and watched Wild Goose navigate in and out of the harbor. Didn't know the public had access. Thanks and good for Hornblower.

  4. Wayne Movie BuffsMay 18, 2019 at 2:19 PM

    Love John Wayne and the story yiu told about "True Grit". Amazing parallel between his character and his real life situation. Admire his true grit.

  5. Santa Barbara SailorsMay 20, 2019 at 9:30 AM

    A true "found story" because we did not know the public had access. Wonderful to have this unique experience in our back yard. We booked the finale weekend. Thanks for the tip.