When John Wayne wasn’t working, there was a pretty good chance you could find him cruising along the coast aboard his yacht, Wild Goose. And even though Wayne passed away in 1979, the ship is still around to this day. In a contemporary world where yachts measure in the hundreds of meters and sell for hundreds of millions of dollars, you may be wondering, how much did the Duke pay for his?
Well, for starters, Wild Goose isn’t just any yacht. In fact, it began its illustrious journey in a role that was the opposite of relaxing. The ship was built during WWII as a U.S. Navy minesweeping vessel. In 1962, John Wayne purchased the ship for the humble price of $116,000. Pretty good deal, right?
The only problem is John Wayne didn’t want to go for a cruise on a ship outfitted to wage war. So the initial price tag was only the beginning. Duke reportedly spent roughly $1 million overhauling the 136-foot vessel. The work included vaulting the ceilings so the big man could comfortably navigate, and of course, adding plenty of tables at which he could play cards.
The money spent was apparently well worth it. John Wayne spent much of the last 17 years of life on Wild Goose when he wasn’t working. It was a place that allowed him to relax, get away from the stresses of being an acting icon, and above all, spend quality time with his family and friends.
“His boat was really a sanctuary,” Michael Wayne, his eldest son, said. “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.”
What Condition is John Wayne’s Yacht in These Days?
Wild Goose’s journey didn’t end with John Wayne. Before Duke died in 1979, he sold the yacht to an acquaintance for a reported sum of $750,000.
For years the ship languished in neglect. In 1990, an old friend of John Wayne’s discovered it wasting away in Long Beach, California. According to an article from the Los Angeles Times, an anonymous businessman invested in bringing Wild Goose back to its former glory.
These days, John Wayne’s former yacht is owned and maintained by Hornblower Cruises. Yes, it is available for private events. Yes, diehard John Wayne fans can theoretically go aboard. No, the yacht is not identical to the way it was when Wayne himself was using it.
The fact that Hornblower owns the yacht outright means that they can do anything they want with it. And apparently, they have added some touches that play up the legendary nature of John Wayne, making it more recognizable to visitors.