The Maritime Museum is located right on the waterfront in Santa Barbara Harbor. It’s a busy spot, surrounded by restaurants, with some niche shopping opportunities also available in the immediate area — including the museum’s own store.
See Vintage Fishing Boats and More
When we visited the museum, several of the most interesting exhibits were vintage boats. The museum’s unique waterfront location makes this possible; the boats are floating in the harbor right outside in front of the museum.
Antique Fishing Boat From 1917: Ranger
Maritime history comes to life when you experience the vessel known as “Ranger,” an innovative 42-foot sportfishing yacht that was built in 1917. Originally, there were five boats that shared Ranger’s design, but this vessel has outlasted all the others.
Prior to Ranger’s construction, there were no private sportfishing yachts that had been built on the California coast; Ranger was the first.
Nowadays, it’s reasonably easy, and commonplace, for people to buy and use boats just for recreational sportfishing. It’s hard to imagine a time when people didn’t enjoy this sort of lifestyle. Ranger is significant in part because of the role she played in bringing awareness to the idea that people could just go and enjoy an adventurous fishing trip out on the ocean, in their own private yacht, at their leisure. In 1917, this was not something that ordinary people typically gave any thought to doing.
Of course, in 1917, boating was much more of a challenge than it is now. There was no GPS, and fiberglass hadn’t been invented yet. Boats were significantly more expensive than they are now, and much more difficult to maintain. Nowadays the invention of fiberglass boats, plus the discovery of GPS technology, has made boating possible for nearly everyone who wants to give it a try. These days we take for granted what people back then only dreamed of.
Ranger has undergone significant restoration; she started out as a wooden vessel, but she now features an additional hull coating of ferro-cement that was not original to the boat. Otherwise she looks much like she did when she was originally built; she even still has her original kerosene-powered running lights.
Vintage Monterey Fishing Boat — Built in 1926
San Francisco fishing fleets were once comprised of classic Monterey fishing boats such as the lovely Theresa Ann, pictured here. This well-maintained vessel, on loan to the museum from owner Mike McCorkle, is a 28-foot wooden beauty made primarily of cedar wood, white oak, and iron bark.
1929 Water Taxi
The Maritime Museum: Preserving Our Naval History for All to Enjoy.
We hope that visitors to the Maritime Museum will share our appreciation and enthusiasm for these lovely vessels that have been maintained with so much love and care. Our heartfelt thanks go out to all the Museum’s staff and volunteers for preserving these special legacies for future generations to enjoy — and if you visit, we hope you’ll thank the museum staff for their efforts too.