Visit The African Queen boat in Key Largo

Visit the African Queen

A small boat with a big history – The African Queen was built in 1912 and has had a rich and varied life, having been used for the East Africa Railway, in the Congo to transport mercenary fights and much later starring in the movie she was re-named after. Someone found the boat in bad shape in Cairo in the 1970’s, then shipped it back to the USA, where it has been restored. She now has a nice quiet life taking curious tourists out on little pleasure rides around Key Largo!


1912 – The african Queen was built in 1912 at Lytham shipbuilding in England. Originally she was named the S/L Livingstone She was immediately shipped to the British East Africa Railways company on the Victoria Nile and Lake Albert. Lake Albert is located on the border of the Belgian Congo and Uganda. She was built in a narrow way to navigate this river and was used to carry mercenaries, missionaries, cargo and hunting parties on their voyages.

1951 – John Huston saw the vessel and commissioned her for the movie he was directing “The African Queen” She was renamed after her starring role.

1968 – The vessel was purchased by a restaurant owner in San Fransisco and brought to the US for charter operation.

1970 – A man called Hal Bailey from Oregon purchased the boat for the price of her boat yard bill and took her to Oregon for charter operation which was so successful he decided to bring her to Florida for year round charter operation.

1982 – In 1982, late attorney (and Bogart buff) Jim Hendricks, Sr., discovered the vessel languishing in an Ocala, Fla., cow pasture and purchased the piece of movie history for a reported $65,000. An equal amount of funds was invested to get the boat operational and Hendricks began offering visitors rides in 1983 while the vessel was homeported at Key Largo’s Holiday Inn.
Among the vessel’s highlights outside of the Florida Keys, Hendricks shipped the African Queen to England for the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday celebration and for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Dunkirk evacuation in the English Channel. It also visited Sydney Australia, New York and Ireland.
In 2001, the African Queen’s engine broke, yet it remained on display for curious tourists and film buffs to view.
2012 – Captain Lance and Suzanne Holmquist signed a long-term lease with Jim Hendricks’ son to restore the vessel in time for her centennial year celebrations. The Holmquists have overseen repairs and have taken pains to date it as it appeared in the film, replacing steel in the hull, replacing the boiler and oiling the black African mahogany to condition the wood. Once finished they put her back into operation as she once was offering canal and dinner cruises in Key Largo.


Check out the site to book your African Queen Tour:

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