Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Film Icon Still Ruling the Waves - in Florida ; Lindsay Sutton Sailed on a Famous Lancashire Boat That Is Now Serving touristsTRAVEL

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Film Icon Still Ruling the Waves - in Florida ; Lindsay Sutton Sailed on a Famous Lancashire Boat That Is Now Serving touristsTRAVEL

Article excerpt

LIKE many ageing Hollywood film stars, she's had a facelift. After all, the African Queen is 100 years old. But unlike that other celebrated 1912 centenarian, the Titanic, the 'Queen' is still ruling the waves.

This grand old lady of the water has just been given a new lease of life, in the unlikely setting of the USA's Florida Keys. She's back chug-chugging her way through the coastal canals of this southernmost part of mainland America. And as she does, memories of the classic African Queen film - starring Hollywood greats Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn - come flooding back. A re-launch party even featured Stephen Bogart, son of Humph, who celebrated the Pounds 45,000 restoration of the colonial vessel that took centre stage - perhaps that should be 'centre channel' - in John Huston's classic 1951 movie.

It's a long way from the Lancashire boatyard where she was built a century ago - and from the African Congo, where she served the British East African Company until she was spotted by Huston and used in the film.

Ultimately, the world-famous vessel was bought by an American and eventually ended up marooned in a dockyard in the Florida Keys.

Now, back in full working order and restored to her former glory, the African Queen is taking tourists and film buffs on two-hour cruises along the Florida Keys' canals, courtesy of Captain Lance Holmquist and his British-born wife Suzanne.

They signed a long lease with owner Jim Hendricks - different spelling and no guitar in sight - and then restored the 'Queen' to her former condition as she appeared in the celebrated film. They replaced rotting steel in the hull; commissioned a new boiler; mended the engine, and oiled the vessel's mahogany timber to bring it back to its original state.

Suzanne says: "We still wanted it to look suitably beat up and used, like it was in the Congo during the First World War, when the film was set.

"The boat is starting to get its sheen back and its authentic look. Visitors are really intrigued and excited about it all.

"It's been hard work but a real pleasure restoring this grand old lady."

Her husband Lance, a can-do Californian, who also runs tall ships from the dock in Key Largo, adds: "It's great to have the African Queen back in the water and fully seaworthy. …

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