John Wayne's Boat: Birthday Cruise

Step aboard the Wild Goose and enjoy the waves off Balboa Island.

MOVIE STAR YACHT: Daydreams and novels are often built around the idea of stepping onto a beautiful boat that belongs to a film star. We picture ourselves sipping wine, perhaps around sunset, as we wave at the mainland and feel more than a little bit fabulous. But outside of daydreams, and fiction, that real-life opportunity doesn't sail into view all that often. It will, however, over the second half of May 2016, when Hornblower Cruises & Events heads out from Newport Beach and onto the waves with the Wild Goose, the famous and beloved yacht of John Wayne.

THE ESTEEMED ACTOR, who passed away in 1979, spent about a decade and a half on the Goose, a three-decker that's as polished and wood-tastic as a boat buff would hope a historic vessel might be. How historic is it? Not only was it owned by the Western-headlining star, it served in World War II (much like its neighbor to the north, the Queen Mary of Long Beach) and was a sibling ship to Jacques Cousteau's Calypso. Did it host a bunch of celebrities in its heyday, from Sammy Davis, Jr. to Bob Hope? You bet. Can you go on a dining cruise, and enjoy a sunset, or some morning sunshine, much like Mr. Wayne did so often? You can, between Thursday, May 19 and Sunday, May 29. Indeed, that's the week of...

JOHN WAYNE'S BIRTHDAY, and surely those on the Goose on May 26 will offer up a toast. Adding more movie star mystique to the cruises, which are both of the sunset cocktails, dinner, and brunch varieties, will be the pass-by of the location of that was once home Mr. Wayne's Newport Beach estate. Beyond dining, and drinks, will you have time to explore the 136-foot craft, which is on the National U.S. Register of Historic Places? You will. Is Madame Tussaud's Hollywood loaning Hornblower the John Wayne wax figure for the duration of the birthday cruises? It is, so look for the figure on the boat. Will Bert Minshall, John Wayne's captain, be present during the cruises? He will be, and he'll be signing his book "On Board with Duke." Will a portion of all ticket sales go to the John Wayne Cancer Foundation? Absolutely. Tickets? Sail in this direction, Duke devotees.

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