A replica of the initial winner of the America’s Cup yacht race docked at GulfQuest Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico today, as the museum is offering dockside tours and cruises in Mobile Bay.
The replica of the schooner America, for which the yacht race is named, was built in 1995 at the request of a Virginia restaurant owner. The original ship entered what is now called the America’s Cup in 1851 to demonstrate the power of the U.S. Navy at the time, current Captain Troy Sears said.
After its win, the original America stayed in Europe until the Civil War when it was commissioned by the Confederate Navy and stationed in Jacksonville, Florida. When the Union Army attacked Jacksonville in 1862, the Confederates sank the ship and destroyed other assets as well, Sears said.
The America was later raised by the Union Army and commissioned as the USS America. It was sold in 1870 and came in fourth in that year’s America’s Cup race. It finished two spots ahead of the British entry. It was reacquired by the Navy in 1921, Sears said.
Although there had been plans to fix the boat up, they were scuttled with the attack on Pearl Harbor and the America was placed in a barn, Sears said. The barn’s roof was destroyed in a 1942 snowstorm and the original America was crushed.
GulfQuest Executive Director Tony Zodrow welcomed the ship to the dock this morning, along with Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and Visit Mobile Vice President of Marketing and Communications Stacy Hamilton.
The 139-foot ship will be docked until Wednesday, Nov. 9. The tours and cruises are open to the public. Dockside tour tickets, which also includes access to the museum, are $21 for adults ages 18-64, $20 for ages 13-17 and seniors 65 or older and $18 for children 5-12. Children under 5 are free with a paid adult admission. GulfQuest members, of which there are 650, can get admission to the America tour for $6 per person. Dockside tours will be available every day while the ship is here, but the times vary.
The sailing excursions run $85 for adults and $42.50 for children 17 and under. The cruises require reservations, as space is limited. To book a reservation for of the cruises, visit fareharbor.com/yachtamerica.