The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM) has announced that its flagship Ranger, which was one of the first boats listed by the Classic Yacht Association (CYA), has rejoined the association’s Southern California Fleet. The Fleet includes member boats from Santa Barbara to San Diego. CYA is “dedicated to the promotion, preservation, restoration and maintenance of fine, old power-driven craft.” Originally, Ranger was readmitted in 2020, in time for the 20th anniversary of the museum, but Covid-19 delayed her rededication ceremony. Now, Ranger will finally be welcomed back by CYA with a dockside champagne and cake reception on Sunday, April 10, 2022, from noon to 2:00pm.
Ranger is a genuine, classic big-game fishing yacht, one of the first private fishing yachts built on the West Coast, and the flagship of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. Built in 1917 by Fellows and Stewart in Wilmington, CA, she was made to the specifications of Jimmy Jump, a founding member of the Catalina Island Tuna Club. For many years, Ranger served as the flagship of the Tuna Club. According to the CYA website, Jump, a commodore of the club, “was known as the King of Light Tackle having set 26 records with the Tuna Club while owning Ranger.” To this day, two of those records still stand: the largest yellow fin tuna and the largest broad bill swordfish. Over the years, celebrities such as Humphrey Bogart, Zane Grey, John Wayne, and Errol Flynn fished from Ranger, and the vessel has been used for photoshoots by Lands’ End and Kevin Costner.
According to the Classic Yacht Registry, over her years of service she has also been the flagship of The Los Angeles Motor Boat Club, The Catalina Island Yacht Club, The Long Beach Yacht Club and now the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.
Ranger is 41 feet overall and her interior living space, which is paneled in beautiful Koa wood, has a full galley, dining table, and berthing for four. Ranger’s beam (width) is 12 feet; her draft is 4 feet, 5 inches; and she has a displacement of 35,000 pounds. Her comfortable cockpit featured two swivel fighting chairs with rod sockets. One of these chairs now sits in the Maritime Museum’s Ranger exhibit, while the other is part of the Museum’s interactive sport fishing exhibit. The wood mast and boom accommodate a stabilizing sail, and she still has her original anchor winch and kerosene cabin light.
Jack Morehart, also a member of the Tuna Club, purchased Ranger in 1984 and moved her home port to Santa Barbara. At that point she was 67 years old, and Morehart began a 13-year-long restoration that included sheathing her hull in ferro-cement to protect the wooden core. By 1988 she was in good enough condition to motor back to Catalina Island for the 90th anniversary of the Tuna Club. In 1997, Morehart donated the boat to SBMM and she became the Maritime Museum’s first exhibit. Because of the high quality of her original design, construction and materials, she is still seaworthy and has been on display since then, docked in front of the Waterfront Center and making periodic cruises around the Santa Barbara Channel, including leading the Parade of Lights each December.