A historic yacht once owned by Tacoma mogul Chester Thorne will be open to the public beginning Sunday at Tacoma’s Foss Waterway Seaport.
El Primero, originally a steam-powered yacht with auxiliary sails, was built in San Francisco in 1893 for Edward Hopkins, nephew of Mark Hopkins, for whom San Francisco’s Mark Hopkins hotel was named.
The yacht, capable of
13.5 knots when powered by its steam engine, was sold to Thorne in 1906.
Thorne later wagered the yacht in a poker game with Tacoma newspaper publisher Sidney Albert “Sam” Perkins and lost. The Perkins Building at South 11th and A Streets is named after the publisher.
The yacht has been visited by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding, Herbert Hoover and William Howard Taft.
During World War II, the yacht was taken into the U.S. Navy as a patrol vessel. It was returned to Perkins in 1947.
After Perkins’ death in 1955, the yacht was left to his heirs and was purchased by Sy Devening for Puget Sound Excursion Lines and converted into diesel power, the seaport said.
The yacht passed through two subsequent owners, an American and a Canadian, and was taken out of service in 2000, remaining at a dock in Blaine.
According to the seaport, the yacht was purchased by Christian Lint, a Seattle engineer and tug captain, in 2010.
Lint brought the vessel back to life. El Primero powered into Tacoma in August for the 21st annual Maritime Fest.
El Primero will be open for limited guided tours. The vessel will be open on Sundays, Sept. 22 through Oct. 6, at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Guided tours of El Primero are included with Seaport admission.
Meanwhile, the Working Waterfront Maritime Museum on the waterway will close this fall to facilitate more improvements on the historic 113-year-old Balfour Dock building. It is scheduled to reopen in spring 2014.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663