The new planking on the Star of India. Courtesy of the museum

The world’s oldest active sailing vessel, the Maritime Museum of San Diego‘s historic Star of India, is now welcoming visitors with a gleaming new wooden deck.

The iron hull of the Star of India is virtually unchanged since she was launched as Euterpe on the Isle of Man in 1863. Wooden decks, however, have a shorter lifespan. The deck planks on the Star have been replaced several times during her career as a merchant vessel, immigrant ship, lumber carrier, and now a museum.

“Over the last three years, in consultation with naval architects and experts in the preservation of historic vessels, the Maritime Museum of San Diego has undertaken a major project to replace all the weather decks on the Star to ensure that she will be preserved for future generations,” announced Dr. Ray Ashley, president and CEO of the museum, on Monday.

Museum staff and volunteers removed the old timber, cleaned and painted the supporting iron beams, laid down a plywood subdeck and then covered that with specially-coated planks.

“Today when visitors view these gleaming decks, they must look much as they did on the day of her launching in 1863,” said Kevin Sheehan, manager of collections at the museum.

The project was financed in part with federal funds from the National Maritime Heritage Program.

The museum on the embarcadero in downtown San Diego  is open to the public every day of the year. Its collection includes the Star of India, USS Dolphin, the galleon replica San Salvador, tall ship Californian, and many other historic vessels.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.