Five years have elapsed since the last time Star of India sailed, so the opportunity to witness her under sail this November makes this even more special. Star of India, built in 1863, is the world’s oldest active sailing ship and has circumnavigated the globe 21 times.
Star of India first came to the City of San Diego in 1927. It was not until 1951 when Maritime Museum of San Diego made long-awaited historical renovations to the vessel originally named Euterpe, after the Greek goddess of music and poetry. Star of India relies on Maritime Museum of San Diego volunteers and a committed staff for her upkeep.
With cooperating winds, San Diegans and visitors to our region alike will have the chance to see Star of India leave the Maritime Museum of San Diego at 9 a.m. and under tow move through San Diego Bay until reaching a position two to three miles west of Point Loma. At that juncture, weather permitting, the tow will be passed, and Star of India will proceed under sail. While at sea, Star of India will perform maneuvers.
When possible, Californian, San Salvador and America will sail in close company with Star of India. At approximately 3 p.m. Star of India, Californian, San Salvador and America will assemble at the entrance to San Diego Bay. Star of Indiawill secure her berth at Maritime Museum of San Diego at 5 p.m. There will be good viewing opportunities along Harbor and Shelter islands and the San Diego waterfront.
Maritime Museum of San Diego has organized a Companion Sail Adventure, which includes the opportunity to accompany Star of India and sail aboard one of three legendary sailing vessels on this historic occasion.
Companion Sail ships include Californian, the official tall ship of the state, San Salvador, the 1542 Spanish galleon replica built in San Diego by staff and volunteers, and America, a replica of the historic yacht that won the America’s Cup in 1851. Note: San Salvador and Californian are sold out. Space is still available aboard America. Reservations can be made at sdmaritime.org. Reservations for the Saturday Companion Sail close at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16. Reservations for the Sunday Companion Sail close at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17.
Tickets include catered breakfast, lunch, drinks, and celebratory champagne. Each ship will include an on-board historian to deepen guests’ understanding of Star of India, the history behind all vessels and the Museum. Check in is at 7:30 a.m. and ships are expected to return to the Museum at 5 p.m. Space is limited and includes admission to the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
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.