History of the Star of India
A favorite destination among sightseers who venture along the San Diego Bay is the Star of India, known to be the “oldest active sailing ship” in the world!
Birthed in 1863, the Star of India was one of the first ships to have an iron hull. This was an innovative yet experimental design of the time as most other ships were still hewn with wooden hulls. She was built to haul goods to and from India and was originally given the name Euterpe after the Greek muse of music.
Today, having been purchased by the San Diego Zoological Society in 1926, the ship rests in the San Diego Maritime Museum both as a California Historical Landmark and as a United States Historical Landmark.
Collisions, Cyclones, Death and Mutiny
This Star of India (Euterpe) has had quiet a long journey in having made it’s way to the San Diego bay. In it’s infancy and first two voyages alone, they were considered to be near-disastrous and quite tragic. In 1864 on her maiden voyage and under the command of Captain William John Storry, the ship collided with the Spanish when heading to Calcutta via Liverpool. The damage was extensive with the jib-boom being carried away and the rigging being mostly destroyed.
Following this collision, the ship experienced a mutiny where much of the crew were thrown in jail.
During it’s second voyage, a run in with a cyclone left the ship without a mast and sadly, on this return voyage, limping back to England, the crew had lost their Captain who had supposedly committed suicide by cutting his own throat. Upon his death, Captain Storry was given a burial at sea.
- Learn more about Burials at Sea
The Perilous Voyage to New Zealand
Following 4 more voyages to India, the Euterpe was sold in 1871 where she began carrying emigrants to New Zealand. It was a difficult trip as passengers were packed below deck into cramped quarters. Those who made the voyage were subjected to limited rations and suffered both from disease and malnutrition during the near-round the world trip. Many perished during the journey.
The Euterpe was sold in 1901 to the Alaska Packers Association who re-rigged her down as a barque. She then carried fishermen, workers, coal and canning supplies to and from the Bering Sea to Oakland, CA. The Association renamed the ship the Star of India in 1906.
Visitors Have A Haunting Experience
At 152 years old and once a ship that carried goods and people across the world, it is now known for being a ship that carries souls of the departed. There are several well known places where visitors say they experience interesting sensations. Many report being slapped on their shoulder or feeling an “S” being drawn on their back.
The Star of India is open to the public and graces the harbor skyline in downtown San Diego as a “living” museum. She sails several times a year and offers interested volunteers the opportunity to learn how to operate the vessel.
We’d love to hear your personal experiences on the Star of India. Please share them on the comment section below.