I mentioned that on Saturday, we left Comic-Con for a few hours to check out the ships at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. We saw five:

  • The Star of India, billed as “the world’s oldest active ship”
  • The HMS Surprise, a replica of an 18th century British ship.
  • The Berkeley, an 1898 steam ferry
  • The Medea, a 1904 yacht
  • A B-39 Soviet submarine.

The big attractions, of course, were the Star of India and the HMS Surprise. Naturally, the Star of India was closed when we got there.

Star of India as seen from a porthole in the Surprise
The Star of India seen from the Surprise

The Surprise was fun, though. It turns out it was built in the 1970s as a replica of an 18th century British Royal Navy vessel, the HMS Rose. It was sold to 20th Century Fox in 2001 and used to film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. After filming was complete, the museum bought the ship and renamed it the HMS Surprise in honor of the fictional vessel.

Katie at the wheel
Ahoy, there, cap’n! Arr, everything be shiny!

Absolutely no climbing in the rigging!
An avid sailor (well, in Puzzle Pirates, anyway), barred from the rigging.

Underneath, the Surprise was housing an exhibit on “Pirates of the Pacific.” There were display cases of maps, weapons, plastic figures that looked like they could have been lifted from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (and for all I know, they were, during the refit), samples of pirates’ ledgers, the difference between a buccaneer and a privateer, etc.

Cannon below decks on the Surprise
Below decks on the Surprise

Somehow I managed not to get any full pictures of the Surprise. Here’s a view of the figurehead:

Figurehead on the Surprise

The main deck of the Berkeley was essentially turned into museum space. It housed sea charts from the 1600s to the present day, model ships, instruments used for mapping the sea floor, and so on. But the engine rooms were left uncluttered, with just a few gates to keep visitors in the main areas.

Boiler room of the Berkeley
Warning lights outside the boiler room on the Berkeley

It was stuffy inside, and while San Diego escaped the worst of the heat this weekend, it was still very uncomfortable. I went below decks to look at the engine room, but didn’t stay very long.

The Medea didn’t have much visible—just the outside and a couple of cabins.

We passed on the submarine entirely, with the heat, cramped quarters onboard, my full backpack, and Katie’s full pirate costume.

Update: I’ve posted more photos of this side-trip.

See Also: Convention Photos & Write-Ups

2 thoughts on “Tall Ships of San Diego

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