The Sea Queen

Sea Queen - A Wilbo Original!

Built 1945 Wilmington Boat Works (WILBO), Wilmington, CA 
Original Owner: Fred F. Harris
Los Angeles, California

Other owners: Paul George



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The Driscolls'
Blue Water Odyssey
with the Sea Witch
available on DVD 

Sea Queen was built at Wilbo in 1945, and was first owned by Fred Harris, a wealthy hotel man. Dave Lee, Jr. served as skipper for Mr. Harris in 1950-1951 before he was called to Korea, and has provided some of the photos presented on this page. Dave lost track of her after his return from the Korean War, and, until September of 2010 we had no idea as to the history or ultimate fate of the Sea Queen.

In September of 2010, we heard from Mike Holt who gave us part of the sad story, along with the below photo of Sea Queen and Captain/Owner, Paul George – the last owner of Sea Queen.

Then, in February, 2012, we heard from Paul George, Jr. – as he put it, a "survivor of the Sea Queen." Paul has quite a story to tell, and we hope to hear more from him.


On February 1, 2012, we received a most welcome email from Paul George, Jr., son of Captain Paul George, the last owner of the Sea Queen. He adds some details to the story first told to us by Mike Holt in September, 2010. Paul's amazing story is a book waiting to be written – and he gives a hint that perhaps one will eventually be forthcoming. Paul wrote:

Hi I am a survivor of the Sea Queen. This was one of 4 original SEA WITCH  boats built in Wilbo. We survived 88 days at sea with 22 days no food and landed on Kusaie Island in Micronesia. We were sailing from Western Samoa to Hawaii during monsoon season and 220 miles off Johnston Atoll we were dismasted.

We had sailed hard for forty days before being dismasted and drifted for another forty-eight days and went without food for 22 days.

It was tough spending 88 days on a boat with 4 other people when you are 13 years old.  I am 53 years old now.  All my father could ever say about the whole incident was... "I GIVE YOU ADVENTURE!"


...My father, Paul George, Sr. had purchased the Sea Queen in 1966 from a yacht broker named Ted Hoover of Newport, Ca.  My father, mother, 2 brothers and 1 sister sailed from Anchorage Harbor, Newport Ca. to Honolulu, Hawaii with 2 other crewmembers.

That maiden voyage took  32 days. We had never sailed before but learned quickly.  I was 8 years old. We sailed to BC Canada in 1968 and sailed back to Honolulu in 1969.  My father and mother had separated and my father set sail with my brother, Danny and myself and 2 other crew members and set sail for Tahiti. 

Dad had changed his mind mid way and charted a course for American Samoa. We stayed there in Pago Pago for 3 months then set sail for Western Samoa and stayed in Apia harbor. Dad decided he wanted to go back to Hawaii in the middle of monsoon season and after 88 days at sea and 22 days with no food we sank the boat on a reef located on the island of Kusaie, and then to a 150 shelf where she either is cradled or the Sea Queen had dropped off to the unknown.  My heart sank right along with her as she gave herself up for us.

We survived.  She didn’t.  I had helmed the boat for 8 hours a day on every trip and learned how to sail on the Sea Queen.  She was my home for 7 years.  The book will come one day but when I saw your website I was astonished.  So Cool!  I have pictures and articles....

We outfitted the boat in Canada with a yard arm and square sail which helped us to Samoa in 21 days from Hawaii.  She was a world class cruiser that had previously won 22 first place trophies in her class. The Sea Queen was truly the most awesome sail boat that I have been in.

Paul George
Sales Associate
Y Marina, Inc.

September 9, 2010, Update:

Hi; My name is Mike Holt and I was very familiar with the “Sea Queen” having lived aboard her for a few months while my own boat was in the yard being repaired. This was in the 1970’s at Harbour Ferries in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. At that time Sea Queen was owned by Paul George, who had bought her in LA and, with his partner Diane and kids Tracy and Snoopy, sailed her via Hawaii to Vancouver  to get away from the drug scene in CA. He had just sold his music store in LA. After a few years in Vancouver – around 1973, they sailed off for the South Pacific with a crewmate/friend, John. They were disabled in a hurricane south of Hawaii and drifted for weeks until they landed on the reef in Ponape, in the Caroline Islands. They were hung up for a few days while the islanders took them ashore, almost dead from lack of food and water – they made soup from the sea life growing on the hull! Eventually they recovered and, with the help of the US Navy who had a small base on the island, managed to shift her off the reef but she sank outside the reef before they could get her ashore. I understand that the islanders eventually raised her and may have repaired her so it’s possible she is still in the vicinity, maybe with a new name?  I would love to make contact with Paul, Diane, the kids or John with all of whom I have lost contact, and to hear any later news about the Sea Queen. My email is I have a pic of Sea Queen and Bob George which I am attaching.  Best regards, Mike Holt

Mike Holt
250 889-0511

Mike included the image below of Sea Queen setting sail from Vancouver with an image of Captain Paul George superimposed.


November, 2009, Update: We have heard from Bob Zetterberg who crewed for Captain Harris during the period from 1952 to 1957. He has provided us with some Sea Queen history as well as some photos and newspaper clippings. Read his very interesting email below.


(Click on images for larger view)

sqn_memblia.jpg (51917 bytes)
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sea_queen1950.jpg (55743 bytes) leeway_seaqueen.jpg (63335 bytes)
Sea Queen in Wilbo shop.
ABOVE: (Left) Sea Queen Coaster, napkins, and stationary. (Right) Sea Queen in the WILBO shop.
Above Photos contributed by Dave Lee, Jr.
sq_full_sail.jpg (54972 bytes)

sq_crew.jpg (105246 bytes)
Sea Queen

sq_barreling.jpg (48562 bytes)
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sq_la_times.jpg (240725 bytes)
LA Times
sq_stbd_bow.jpg (48275 bytes) sq_ancient_mariner.jpg (76526 bytes)
ABOVE: Photos and items contributed by Bob Zetterberg 



...I maintained and helped sail the Sea Queen from my early days in high school 1952 – 1957 at which time I continued my love for the sea by becoming a midshipman at the California Maritime Academy.

My years onboard Sea Queen were during the times of Wooden Boats, when Yachts were “Real Yachts”, Meticulously Maintained, and when Yacht Etiquette was recognized and religiously used. Sea Queen glistened with her smooth white hull, Sea Witch Blue water line/trim accented with gold leaf.  Her varnished rails, hatch covers, and masts were bright and smooth as silk. Her teak decks were so clean they shone almost white, and lastly her brass work gleamed. She was a beauty and caught the eyes of everyone. She received several awards for the best-kept yacht in LA Yacht Club.
Fred Harris, her crew and I were all very proud.

My Dad taught me seamanship, work ethics, and the love of the sea.
My Mom taught me compassion and responsibility.
My Brother taught me how to varnish, paint, and general yacht maintenance.

Fred Harris taught me how to sail.

During my years on Sea Queen we sailed EVERY WEEKEND during the summer to Catalina Island. We had a buoy in Cherry Cove along with several other yachts; e.g. Goodwill (175’ schooner), Santanna (60’+schonner owned by Humphrey Bogart), Serenade (60+ schooner owned by John Wayne). The Pilgrim (80’+schooner) from Balboa Island was also frequently there. Sea Queen, with all that company, still caught the eyes of those around. Sea Queen also participated in many local off shore races, many mid winter regattas, several Ensenada races and last but not least, the TransPac race of 1955.Our crew (not including me) was referred to as the “Rocking Chair Crew”. Our home was the LA Yacht Club, located at the tip of Terminal Island.

A few words about the 1955 TransPac race.

Crew included three on each watch (4 on and 4 off) and one cook. Here are the names as close as I can remember:

Fred Harris       –    Owner/skipper – Great and a Very Nice Person!
Clare Newner   –    Captain USN retired
Warren Newmark– Owner, Newmarks Yacht Landing
Phelps Terkell  –   Owner, Scotts Tissue
Willard Bell       –   Owner, manufacturing company Beverly Hills
…………          –    Medical Doctor, Navigator
Bob Z....           –    Crewmember with BIG Appetite
………              –    Cook

As I remember, it was an overcast day and the wind was blowing up a storm. It was a beat, but it was preferred, to go around the west end of Catalina. As I said it was really blowing. Two boats lost their masts trying to get around the island. As you can imagine, Sea Queen was a little slower but we made it.

The bad news is all but two were seasick; the cook and I were ok. This lasted for about three days. The cook and I ate very well. During this time I found myself pretty much alone while on watch and the only one that could take the helm and sail Sea Queen. The rest of my watch standers were feeding the fish.

A LITTLE SIDE NOTE: Clare Newner and I were on the same watch. I believe he felt bad that I had to do the sailing without anyone to help. Having said that, he said that his wife had made a tin full of chocolate chip cookies, which he had stored below, and told me to help myself. Being a growing boy, over the course of three days I ate the entire tin of cookies. To say the least, it was not a pretty sight when Clare started to feel better and wanted to have a cookie, only to find the tin EMPTY. 

We had wind almost every day, a little rough, lots of sail changes but we thought we were making good time. Every day we had to call in to the “Scratch Boat” Goodwill to report our position. One day Goodwill reported she was taking a little water over her fore deck. Can you imagine how much water Sea Queen was experiencing that day. We were swamped!

The last day or two outside of Oahu, I remember the experience of going through the Molikai Channel. Wind whistling Dixie, 40 foot swells, top of crest, spanker full, doing a hull speed of 10 knots – next moment at bottom of swell, spinnaker collapsed, speed slowing then once again on top of the crest spinnaker full and once again going 10 knots. That was a thrilling ride and a great sail.

We entered port the afternoon of either that day or the next. We were all dressed in our sailing uniforms (red pants – red/white striped shirts). Happy wives and girl friends were waiting to greet us with leis, and champagne.

It took us 14 plus days to make the crossing and complete the race. I believe it was about the same time it took Sea Witch in the 1953 race.

Fred hired a family to take Sea Queen home. The man & his wife took one watch and I plus a college kid, wanting a ride home, took the next watch. I believe it took us 22 days to return home. Good trip!  

Fred sold Sea Queen in 1956 to a couple that wanted to sail around the world. Before leaving they added a “dog house” for weather protection. I did not like it as it detracted from the lines and beauty of Sea Queen. I always keep looking, but have never found her. Fred later bought Freedom, a 42’ sloop. I understand he kept Freedom for a couple of years and then sold her.

I soon thereafter lost contact with Fred. Unfortunately he died of cancer a couple of years later. Meanwhile I graduated from the Maritime Academy, sailed in the Merchant Marine and wound up my sea experience spending 6 plus years in the Navy as Chief Engineer on three destroyers. Made 2 trips to Vietnam.  Enjoyed my sea experiences very much.

I wish all who might read this, Fair Winds and Following Seas.

Bob Zetterberg


Course: San Pedro (“2A” buoy) to Diamond Head Light, 2225 nautical miles. Handicap Rule: Ocean Racing Rule of North American Yacht Racing Union subject to certain limitations plus the Transpacific Yacht Club’s Table of Allowances.

Start: July 4, noon, Pacific Daylight Time. Yacht Owner Elapsed Corrected Place

Class D – Rating from 25 to 32.3, inclusive

Sea Queen (25.3) Fred F. Harris 14:09:58:10 9:13:06:34 15 D-6

(Elapsed Corrected time: 14 days, 9 hours, 58 minutes, and 10 seconds.)


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