SAN DIEGO – The Maritime Museum of San Diego announced that the world’s
oldest active sailing ship, Star of India, will make its journey back home to the museum after undergoing a period of restoration and maintenance at South Bay.
Star of India, built in 1863, has circumnavigated the globe twenty-one times and first came to San Diego in 1927.
ABOUT STAR OF INDIA
Star of India is the world’s oldest active sailing vessel. She is also the oldest iron-hulled merchant ship still afloat. She was launched as the fully-rigged ship Euterpe at Ramsey Shipyard on the Isle of Man in 1863.
Euterpe began her working life with two near-disastrous voyages to India. On her first trip she suffered a collision and a mutiny. On her second, a cyclone caught Euterpe in the Bay of Bengal, and with her topmasts cut away, she barely made port. Shortly afterward, her first captain died on board and was buried at sea. After such misfortunes, Euterpe would eventually make four more voyages to India as a cargo ship.
In 1871 she was purchased by the Shaw Savill line of London and for the next quarter century she transported hundreds of emigrants to New Zealand and Australia. During this period, she made twenty-one circumnavigations. It was rugged voyaging, with the little iron ship battling through terrific gales, “laboring and rolling in a most distressing manner,” according to her log.
With the opening of the Suez Canal, and sail giving way to steam power, Euterpe would eventually be sold to the Alaska Packers Association. In 1901 her new owners changed her rig to that of a bark (her present configuration). By the time of her retirement in 1923, she had made twenty-two voyages from San Francisco to Alaska, returning each year with her hold laden with canned salmon.
In 1926, Star of India was sold to the Zoological Society of San Diego as the projected centerpiece for an aquarium and museum. The Great Depression and World War II saw these proposals languish from lack of funding. Eventually in the late 1950s and early 1960s, thanks to a groundswell of support from local San Diegans, Star of India was restored to sailing condition. In 1976, she set sail once again. Her preservation continues as a living reminder of the great Age of Sail, thanks to the tireless efforts of curators and volunteers at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
About the Maritime Museum of San Diego
The Maritime Museum of San Diego experience includes admission to a world-class collection of historic sailing ships, steam-powered boats, and submarines, each offering entertaining and educational exhibits. The 501c3 non-profit Museum enjoys an international reputation for excellence in restoring, maintaining, and operating historic vessels including the world’s oldest active sailing ship, Star of India.
Maritime Museum of San Diego is ranked as one of the nation’s top attractions offering self-guided tours, docent guided-group tours, tall ship charters, year round public events, educational programs, and a distinctive venue for corporate/private events. The Museum is open daily along Star of India Wharf at 1492 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101-3309.
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