John Wayne’s Kids Reflect on the Duke’s Passion for the Open Seas

by John Jamison

When John Wayne wasn’t in front of a camera, he was on his boat. He wasn’t an overly complicated man. One of his favorite things to do was spend time with his family on the water. Ethan Wayne, Duke’s youngest, didn’t get the whole experience like his older brother Patrick. But that’s part of why he started the John Wayne Gritcast. The first episode dropped on September 29, and in it, the brothers talk about their dad’s love for the ocean.

First of all, we can’t just ignore how cool it is that John Wayne’s kids are taking part in something like this. For everything he accomplished, Wayne’s passing in 1979 still came too soon. We have his body of work by which to remember him, but there’s no substitute for the insights of a personal relationship. So, bravo to Ethan, Marisa, and Patrick for giving us a window into the Duke’s life.

Now, to the matter at hand. Boats. Water. Family. It doesn’t get much better than all of that. Ethan asked Patrick and Marisa if they could remember when their dad’s boat trips started.

“Oh yeah. He used to rent boats when we were really young and we’d go to Catalina,” Patrick said. “We’d stay at these little things called the villas at the isthmus. Very spartan, very plain. But, you know, we’re with our dad. We’re taking meals with him. It’s quality time spent.”

Patrick Wayne recalled the days before his dad bought and renovated his decommissioned minesweeper Wild Goose. On the other hand, Ethan’s memories are likely linked to the days he spent with Duke on the iconic boat.

John Wayne’s Son Michael Called Wild Goose His Dad’s ‘Sanctuary’

In the Gritcast episode, Patrick mentioned how difficult it was to spend quality time with his dad. He was working most of the year, and those two-week boat trips to Catalina in the summers were the most time the kids got to spend with him.

Eventually, John Wayne’s passion for the water and, more importantly, what that time represented got the better of him. His investment in Wild Goose was well worth it, according to the late Michael Wayne.

“His boat was really a sanctuary, it was a place he could go to relax; it was something he needed. It was really like a vacation home, but he could go anywhere he wanted, it gave him tremendous freedom,” Michael told the Los Angeles Times in 1992.

All of that time spent working needed a counterbalance. That’s where Wild Goose and trips down the coast to Mexico or up it to Alaska came into play. John Wayne got 17 good years out of the boat, and his kids seem to remember those days fondly.