In Africa during World War I, a gin-swilling riverboat
captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to
use his boat to attack an enemy warship. Starring,
Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Robert Morley.
The African Queen was filmed in many locations
including Shepperton Studios (UK), Biondo
(Democratic Republic Of Congo), Kabalega Falls
(Uganda), Lake Albert (Uganda), Murchison Falls
(Uganda), Ponthierville Falls (Democratic Republic
Of Congo), Port Butiaba (Uganda), Ruiki River
(Democratic Republic Of Congo).
Humphrey Bogart's wife, Lauren Bacall traveled him
during the filming.
Bogy pulling the Queen
The African Queen was built in 1912 at Lytham
shipbuilding in England. Originally she was named
the S/L Livingstone She was immediately shipped to
the British East Africa Railways company on the
Victoria Nile and Lake Albert. Lake Albert is located
on the border of the Belgian Congo and Uganda.
She was built in a narrow way to navigate this river
and was used to carry mercenaries, missionaries,
cargo and hunting parties on their voyages.
Ipe, also called Brazilian walnut, (pronounced ee-pay)
wood is typically found in South America and some
parts of Central America. It is one of the densest
hardwoods available, three times harder than cedar.
Ipe also has a closed grain and is naturally oily,
qualities that along with its density help make it
resistant to insects and rot.
Another wood that is actually a little heavier is
lignum vitae. Both these Woods are oily. I remember
hearing an old timer say they used to use them as a
bushing where the shaft of an inboard boat motor
went through the stern to keep it watertight. No
bronze bearings to seize up, no need to lubricate,
ball bearings out of the question, so IPE or lignum
vitae would run forever and self-lubricate.
Now about 5 mi from our condo in the Keys was a
Holiday Inn & Marina. Sitting at the dock was the
original wooden African Queen that was used in the
movie by the same name and starring Humphrey
Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, and Robert Morley. This
very boat was built in 1912. It is steam-powered.
For a fee, you can talk the owner into giving you
a ride in it.
The speed control is a spigot. The farther you open
it the faster you went, and if you closed it you
went slower. Well, sometimes it would run and
sometimes it wouldn't. If it did not run on a regular
basis, he could not afford the dock fee at the
Holiday Inn. They would rather rent the space for a
$1 million-dollar yacht. Another problem was, the
Coast Guard would not approve the boat to carry
passengers for pay. They felt the steam boiler might
blow up anytime and you also could burn yourself if
you bumped into it.
Years later it was being remodeled from top to
bottom so we drove over to see the new owner. He
said he was testing it out and getting ready for
a grand opening in a few weeks. He mentioned the
leakage where the propeller shaft went through
the stern and I suggested the ipe wood which the
very, very, rich were using for docks and patios.
It worked and he invited us to the grand opening
of the beginning of the yacht tours of The
African Queen. We got on the boat, they fired
it up, and Mary and I took the tiller and out into
the ocean we went. As you can see, we are just
passing the Ocean Buoy entering into the Atlantic
I made up a small picture album of our cruise on
the boat and pictures of the original one and
scenes from the movie where they were up to their
waists in water pulling a boat through the swamp.
So, about a month later, Mary decided to take
another trip. I was the camera man only, no boat
trip. When she arrived, lo and behold.... there was
Stephen Bogart, son of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren
Bacall. She and four or five other women had lunch
with Stephen Bogart and then took the a boat trip.
Steven boarding the African Queen. Can you imagine
the thoughts going through his mind on this trip,
of his father and mother while making the movie.
When she got back, Mary had her picture taken with
Steven Bogart, who was a really nice guy.
I see in the "second Coming" of the boat they put
insulation around the boiler held on with some
wooden cleats to satisfy the Coast Guard. The
following are pictures after the Coast Guard
Gordonís Gin riding the bow
Protector around the boiler
Original Queen - movie scene
Original Queen - date unknown
Engine view 1
Engine view 2 - showing how they
surrendered to the modern era, cover on the
outboard motor for emergency power