|You can see it when you fly into San Diego Airport. You can see it when you drive south into downtown from Interstate 5. At night it glows, draped with strings of soft light. And, hands down, it's the crown jewel of the Maritime Museum of San Diego's eight-vessel fleet. This wonderful, welcoming, somewhat mysterious San Diego icon is the majestic Star of India, the jewel of the Maritime Museum of San Diego's fleet and the world's oldest seagoing ship.
Dating back to 1863, the Star of India is the focal point of the museum's fleet, which also includes the vessels Berkeley, Medea, Pilot, Butcher Boy, Californian, HMS Surprise, and the old Soviet submarine B-39.
Like the Star, the Berkeley was declared a National Historic Landmark (1966 and 1990 respectively). The Berkeley is a docked 1898 Victorian-era steam ferryboat, which served the San Francisco area until 1958. Acquired in 1973, much of the Berkeley's elaborate woodwork and stained-glass decoration remain in beautiful condition today, and although it doesn't leave the dock anymore, you can board the boat to visit its museum, maritime library and gift shop. The Berkeley's historic decks are also available for parties, weddings and conventions.
The tiny Medea is an elegant 1904 steam yacht. Her history includes service in two world wars, under three navies and six national flags. Today the restored Medea still roams the bay waters, going out about twice a month for VIP excursions.
The 1914 guide boat Pilot served as San Diego Bay's first official pilot boat, guiding commercial vessels through the Bay. The Pilot is used for educational purposes, and also takes museum visitors on short bay cruises for a small fee.
The topsail schooner Californian, built in 1984 in San Diego's Spanish Landing, is a model of the speedy 1847 revenue cutter C.W. Lawrence. The tall ship had a complete refit in 2003 and now functions full time as a working sailing ship. By resolution of the state Senate, the Californian is known as the "official tall ship of the State of California."
Also with renovations completed, the Butcher Boy has been placed on permanent display. Visitors can enjoy a view of this boat with a stroll on the Embarcadero. Known over the years as one of San Diego's best racing sloops, the 1902 Butcher Boy was built by Manuel Goularte from a hand-made model.
Maritime Museum of San Diego
1492 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
To visit the vessels, head to the corner of Ash Street and Harbor Drive. The Star of India's white sails and massive rigging can't be missed. Purchase a museum admission ticket on the Star or the Berkeley, or visit the booth on the Embarcadero between the two ships. Look out for the many ticket packages offered that include rides on Californian and the Pilot as well as museum admission. All ships float next to each other on the Bay.
Park in metered lots along Harbor or pull into a pay lot at Ash Street and Pacific Coast Highway, which runs parallel to and just east of Harbor Drive.
Phone: (619) 234-9153