Article on John Wayne Wild Goose

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    • Article on John Wayne Wild Goose

      Article from 1 August 2008 on life of Wild Goose.

      Wayne's yacht was WWII minesweeper

      DAVID C. HENLEY Publisher Emeritus

      Dave T. Henley • LVN photo John Wayne's former 136-foot yacht, the Wild Goose, is 66 years old but still plies the Pacific. A former U.S. Navy minesweeper, she served in the Aleutians during World War II.

      Hollywood legend John Wayne loved Northern Nevada.

      He reveled in its rugged life-style, rode horses on its mountain trails and made his last movie in the Silver State.

      That movie, "The Shootist," which also starred Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard, Richard Boone, Hugh O'Brian and Harry Morgan, was filmed in and around Carson City and released in June of 1976.

      Three years later on June 11, 1979, Wayne died of stomach cancer at the UCLA Medical Center in West Los Angeles. He was buried at Pacific View Memorial Park in Orange County, Calif.

      Wayne, who acted and starred in 171 feature films during his 50-year movie career, made several other films in Nevada. They included "Flying Tigers" (1942), "Jet Pilot" (1957) and "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (1965). In the latter film, Pyramid Lake served as the Sea of Galilee.

      John Wayne also was a passionate lover of the sea, and today, 29 years after his death at the age of 72, his famed yacht the Wild Goose is still plying the Pacific, a living reminder of the screen actor whose motion picture career began in 1926 when he appeared as a Yale football hero in the film "Brown of Harvard."

      The 136-foot, 340-ton Wild Goose is more than just a yacht. It boasts a distinguished career in the U.S. Navy as well.

      Built by the Ballard Marine Corp. of Seattle in 1942 to serve as a USN minesweeper, the wooden-hulled vessel was one of 561 of the YMS class constructed in 35 shipyards for use during WWII. More than 150 of them were sold to Great Britain and other allied navies.

      The minesweeper that was to become Wayne's yacht was numbered YMS-328, the YMS designating it was a Yard Minesweeper. Crewed by four officers and 29 enlisted personnel, YMS -328 was assigned to the Alaskan Sea Frontier Command in the Aleutians during World War II, sweeping enemy mine fields at Attu and the U.S. mine fields at Kiska and patrolling out of Adak.

      Armed with a 50 mm cannon and two 20 mm guns, YMS-328 was ordered in 1945 to sail for the Western Pacific and participate in the invasion of Japan. That order was rescinded when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki which brought about the end of WW II.

      During WW 11, 20 of the YMS minesweepers were sunk by enemy fire in the Pacific and Atlantic campaigns and 12 were present at Japan's surrender at Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945.

      Many of the minesweepers saw service during the Korean War (by then they were given names) and were used by Navy reservists into the 1960s. The last YMS was decommissioned in late 1969.

      Transferred to the Navy base at Bremerton, Wash., following her duty in the Aleutians, YMS-328 was decommissioned and sold to Canadian than yachtsman Harold A. Jones in 1948.

      Subsequently sold twice more to wealthy Americans, it was purchased by Wayne in 1965 for $116,000. He completely refurbished the ship, adding a custom interior featuring dark wood paneled walls, a master stateroom, quarters for children and guests, a wet bar and a poker table.

      Wayne also raised the overhead in most of the interior by six to eight inches to accommodate his 6-foot, 4 inch frame.

      Wayne hired a full-time crew of four, homeported the Wild Goose outside his home in Newport Beach in Orange County, and took countless trips on the vessel to Mexico, Oregon, Washington State and Canada.

      Entertaining passengers such as Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Pres. Richard Nixon during these voyages, Wayne was "in his prime as the owner of one of the world's most famous private yachts," its former captain, Bert Minshall, told me as we toured the boat several years ago.

      Two months before his death in 1979, Wayne sold the Wild Goose for $750,000 to Los Angeles attorney Lynn Hutchins, and today the ship is owned by Hornblower Cruises, which operates it and several other former yachts out of its cruise terminals in Orange County, San Diego and Los Angeles.

      Last week, my son, Dave, and I went out on Newport Bay in Newport Beach where we caught up with the Wild Goose when she was carrying a group of sightseers on a tour of the harbor.

      The photo accompanying my column was taken by Dave just after the Wild Goose passed by Wayne's former Newport home, which today is occupied by the owner of the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles.

      Shawn Ware, captain of the Wild Goose, told us the ship's original twin-diesel engines are still is good shape and the Wild Goose is drydocked once a year for maintenance, hull cleaning and painting.

      Costs for individuals taking two-hour Wild Goose cruises begin at $28, excluding food and beverages, and $4,600 for groups to charter the entire ship. The yacht can accommodate 150 guests.

      "The Wild Goose may be 66 years old, but she's in excellent condition, running well and has many good years ahead of her," said Capt. Ware as he maneuvered the historic vessel into port.

      David C. Henley is publisher emeritus of the LVN

      The post was edited 3 times, last by Kevin: cleaned up so bad links. ().

    • Re: Article on John Wayne Wild Goose

      Here's another article about the Wild Goose from the Daily Pilot in Newport Beach;

      John Wayne and the famed 'Wild Goose'

      Boat from World War II became famous as the Duke would explore and invite Hollywood friends aboard.

      By Joseph Serna
      The Wild Goose has almost as storied a past in Newport Beach as its former owner, John Wayne.

      The 136-foot boat, a former minesweeper used during World War II, became as recognizable as its owner as Wayne motored around the harbor and Catalina Island with family and famous friends for more than a decade.
      As news clippings over the years retell, The Duke made few changes to the boat after he bought it in 1965. He added some beds for family and repainted it a bit, but left the sturdy military vessel mostly as-is. It probably saw its biggest changes in its earliest years with Wayne every winter, when he would spruce it up for the annual Christmas Boat Parade.

      But when the boat wasn’t playing home to Wayne and his kids, or hosting late-night poker games with Wayne and his Hollywood friends like Sammy Davis Jr., the Wild Goose was exploring the open sea.

      While almost all news reports say Wayne bought the Wild Goose in 1965, a story from the Los Angeles Times a year earlier claims it was his when three men drowned off the Mexican coast on their way back to the yacht from their skiff.

      In the March 24, 1964, article, three men drowned when their 14-foot skiff capsized as they headed back to the Wild Goose off the coast of Cabo San Lucas. Wayne was there with his wife and son on vacation. The men were headed to the Wild Goose when they tried to switch places on the small boat, and it flipped. All but one died.

      In 1969, the Wild Goose ran aground in San Diego Harbor, news reports show. When Wayne filed an insurance claim, the company rejected it. Wayne eventually won all $74,000 from the company after a Los Angeles court judge ruled in his favor in a civil suit.

      In Wayne’s last year with the Wild Goose, 1975, he partnered with a treasure hunter to go find a 17th century shipwreck off Catalina Island.

      According to a 1991 Los Angeles Times article, Chuck Kenworthy approached The Duke to see if he could use his boat. Kenworthy met Wayne while working on “The Searchers,” and in 1974, approached him to see if he could rent it. Wayne wanted to be a partner. The two, with the help of some divers Wayne worked with from “The Green Berets,” searched for a Manila galleon off Catalina. They found some copper plates, but not much else.

      Canadian customs found more than that in 1978, when the Wild Goose’s new owner failed to have $2,000 worth of Wayne’s liquor properly sealed as he crossed the border. According to a news report from the time, Canadian officials emptied Wayne’s liquor bottles, some with his personal labels on them, down a police department sink drain.

      The yacht has been refitted and is now owned by Hornblower Cruises and Events and charters people around Newport Harbor.
    • Re: Article on John Wayne Wild Goose

      This article in the Daily Pilot is from back in August of 2011, but I am just now seeing it and thought you might appreciate it - Wild Goose roosts on historic registry.

      Here's the actual National Register of Historic Places Official Website article about the Wild Goose.