Historic Yacht Sinks in the San Juans

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A historic yacht is now in dire straits. The 76-foot, 1932 Norwester was used by the US Navy during World War II before becoming legendary actor John Wayne’s first boat. Now, this iconic piece of maritime history may soon be lost. After setting off for the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest last weekend, the yacht ran aground on unmarked rocks and sustained a one-foot gash in its hull. Its eight passengers were rescued safely, but the Norwester remains partially submerged near Prevost Harbor, where it is suffering increasing damage from the wind and water each day.

If this were any other boat, it would likely be heading for the scrapyard, but its owners are not ready to lose this historic vessel just yet. They have been renting it out as a private charter to raise funds for the John Wayne Cancer Foundation, and they had planned on raising $100,000 for the foundation in the first year alone (amounting to more than 10 percent of the foundation’s current annual contributions), with the goal of increasing the number of charters in the following years.

Now, the owners are trying to fundraise her salvage and restoration through GoFundMe. They estimate it will cost $1.5 million to return her to the water.


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