Monday, October 08, 2007

Did Columbus Sail The Great Lakes?

No, but a replica of the Santa Maria, the flagship of Columbus' 1492 voyage, sailed the St. Clair River for many years. Andrew Cuthbertson and his son Tom of Cuthbertson Marina in Algonac, Michigan built the ship, which was aptly named the Santa Maria II. The Cuthbertsons completed the Santa Maria II in 1936 and sailed it until the late 1940's when it was sold and sailed to St. Augustine, Florida for use as a theme restaurant. A tropical storm sank the Santa Maria II in the mid-1950's and the ship is believed to have been dismantled some time after that.

In the early 1940’s my Grandfather was on Harsen’s Island when he filmed the Santa Maria II. Click below to view this brief but rare footage!

Happy Columbus Day!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Santa Maria II was built by my grandfather and uncle before I was born in 1943. He however did not sail it until 1962 and then dismantle it. It is my understanding that it was sold (before I was born) to someone who took it to Florida and it was subsequently used as a restaurant for a while and then sometime thereafter it burned and is resting at the bottom of one of the canals in Florida.

October 25, 2007 9:06 AM  
Blogger Ookpik said...


Thanks for writing and clarifying the story of the Santa Maria II. The information I have is that the ship was built in your Uncle’s backyard. Construction started in 1933 and the ship was finished in 1936. The movie taken by my Grandfather is from approximately 1942 or 1943. I thought the photo was a bit later, 1946 or 1947 but perhaps not since you say your family sold the ship prior to 1943. It is not surprising that the ship ended up in Florida as they have always celebrated pirate history with replica ships, theme parks, the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, etc. I’m sorry to learn of the unfortunate end of the ship but I’m glad the memory of the Santa Marie II lives on!

October 25, 2007 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Alana Plumb said...

my great great grandpa was andrew cuthbertson and this boat was sailed on lake saint clair for a while then they sailed it to florida where it was on display but was destroyed in hurricane Andrew ironically

December 20, 2011 7:43 PM  
Blogger Ookpik said...

Hi Alana,

Thank you very much for the comments, insight and information on the Santa Maria II. If the Santa Maria II was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew does that mean it was still around in the early 1990’s? I fixed the You Tube link so you can now watch your Great-Grandpa’s ship under sail!

December 23, 2011 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoying the comments on the Santa Maria II. I'm Jim Cuthbertson Sr, grandson of Andrew and son of Tom Cuthbertson, its builders. I'd like to add and clarify a couple of things. The boat was constructed in my fathers' backyard on Columbia Street - I was told it took 5 years. It was launched the year I was born, on Memorial Day 1936 at the end of Smith Street. It sailed Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Huron for over a decade. When my Uncle Andrew (Tom's brother) came out of WWII he bought out my father's interest. Shortly after, when Grandfather was too old to keep it up he sold it and it was sailed down the coast and used as a theme for a restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida. In the mid-fifties Grandpa and my brother Hugh drove down there in a '52 Ford to work on the Santa Maria II. Not too long afterward a severe storm - if it was a hurricane it wasn't Andrew - sank it in the canal. In about 1958 I drove down and saw the sad scene - the mast and Crows Nest and part of the back of the boat could be seen sticking out of the water! An ignominious ending for an old Columbus ship - but many good memories of family and group outings remain. For one, sailing on Lake Huron when I was about 10 years old stands out. It was difficult going under the Blue Water Bridge because of the strong current and the slowness of the ship - it sailed at about 8 knots. I have several photos of its launch and sailing, some of which I have and will put up on the Facebook "Algonac Remembers Henry's and Other Haunts". Thanks for the opportunity to share these memories. Jim

September 15, 2014 9:05 PM  
Blogger Ookpik said...

Hi Jim,

Thanks for writing! I appreciate your kind words as well as the additional information about the Santa Maria II. Please let me know when you post the launch photos, as I would be very interested in seeing them.

September 17, 2014 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ookpik - Hi, Jim here. I'm glad you enjoyed the collage of the Santa Maria II. Today 9/19/14 I have added more, a collage from construction to launch, one of her in full sail, and one from the newspaper showing the contrast between it and a modern day yacht. Each one has its own description which is seen if you click on each separately. Thank you for referring your readers to the site. Hope you enjoy. God bless, Jim

September 19, 2014 6:56 PM  

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