The iconic boat from the Humphrey Bogart movie of the same name, African Queen, has called the docks at the Holiday Inn in Key Largo home since 1983. The boat is actually registered as a national historic site. Recently, she has undergone major restorations to make her seaworthy again. And earlier this month, Humphrey Bogart’s son Stephen was in Key Largo for the African Queen’s relaunch party. Starting later on this month, there are plans to offer a two-hour canal cruise aboard the vessel as well as small private dinner cruises.
The African Queen has a rich history going back 100 years. It was built in England in 1912 and initially served as a shuttle boat for the British East Africa Rail Company. The boat was temporarily pulled from service to be used in the African Queen when John Huston saw it on a hunting trip in Africa. In 1968 the boat was sold and shipped to San Francisco. In 1970 it was bought again and put into service for passenger operation in Oregon. The boat was then moved to Ocala, Florida to offer the same type of service year round. Then in 1982 Jim Hendricks found the boat in Ocala, bought the vessel, and brought it down to Key Largo where it has been ever since with two exceptions. The boat was shipped to England for the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday celebration and for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Dunkirk.
In 2001 the African Queen’s engine died and was never repaired. The boat has been on display at the Key Largo Holiday Inn ever since; and it is a regular stop for Humphrey Bogart fans and movie buffs.