John Wayne returns to the Pacific Northwest! The Norwester is a piece of our own history officially anchored as of July 9, 2016 in beautiful La Conner, Washington.
The 76-foot yacht has been renovated and restored as a museum, showcasing items owned by “the Duke” as well an assortment of antiques and actual props used in his movies. Visit the Norwester and experience a “live” time capsule of Washington’s shared history with the legendary actor and producer John Wayne. “Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday.”
Originally built in 1932, the Norwester was first christened the Chiro by her owner Charles Gilbert. In 1937 she was sold, and ended up joining the navy at the onset of WWII to help patrol the coastal home front. From 1941 to 1945 the newly dubbed Nor’wester was on active Naval duty.
After the war, it was actually John Wayne’s business manager, Boo Roos, her found her. But it wasn’t long after though that he sold her to his friend and client John Wayne.
Entries within the log, though relatively plain in nature, speak to the journeys of her time with the Duke. An entry in 1945 makes mention of Orson Wells playing as guest on the Norwester, while another shows a trip near the Southern island of California,
“5:15 a.m. all’s quiet, Catalina,”
Usually berthed in Newport, Duke often used the yacht to host hi many friends and family – even throwing fraternity party for his son.
At 6’4″ John Wayne was actually too tall to stand inside the Norwester. In order to accommodate his height (and his hat) the top deck (the roof) was raised almost 12 inches and the seems cleverly disguised with fancy wood work.
The height of luxury at her time, the Norwester contained three cabins, crew quarters, a roomy main salon and large wheelhouse to relax in. The captains cabin even had its own bathroom and the secondary bathroom had a bath tub.