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Sea Ray was the first boat manufacturer to use fiberglass in its pleasure boat construction, and also pioneered the molded-in swim platform when it launched Ski Ray ski boats in 1991. Last December, Captain Lance and Suzanne Holmquist announced that they would restore the African Queen and put her back to work doing inland water tours. The steamship, built in England in 1912 then used by the British East Africa Railway Company to carry cargo and passengers in the Belgian Congo and Uganda, had been deteriorating in dry dock for ten years. The Holmquists could see the Queen sitting forlorn on her dock as they operated their charter boat business.
The restoration was challenging, but not as hard as some of the other restorations Captain Holmquist has done. Also salvageable was much of the original black African mahogany used for flooring and siding.


Starting at the end of the month, the African Queen will be taking passengers on two-hour canal cruises several times a day, and for six-passenger dinner cruises around Key Largo on select evenings.
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After three and a half months of work and almost $70,000, the 30-foot riverboat used in the iconic 1951 John Huston movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn is officially back in business. Her previous owner, Jim Hendricks Sr., had rescued from her a land bound horse farm in Ocala, Florida in 1982, then used her for tours and took her around the world twice for special events. Captain Lance, who has a passion for restoring boats, noticed that even decrepit in dry dock the African Queen was still a hugely popular stop for tourists. The Key Largo Chamber of Commerce is throwing her a party and fundraiser dockside at the Holiday Inn Key Largo.


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Last up was a new paint job, which lasted just a few hours before Captain Holmquist took a rag and some brown paint and messed it up so it would look like it looked chugging through the jungle with Bogie and Hepburn.
The first ride on the Queen with Stephen Bogart will be auctioned off at the event, as will the original steel pieces from the hull that were replaced. Only 20% of the steel panels were corroded enough to need replacing, but that 20% took three weeks of welding to fix.




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