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Rancho Ortega Blog discusses matters of public interest in South Orange County, including the communities of San Juan Capistrano, Ladera Ranch and Rancho Mission Viejo.

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Ghosts of Orange County: 9. John Wayne and the Wild Goose Yacht

To celebrate Halloween, Rancho Ortega Blog is counting down the ten most haunted locations in Orange County.  If you missed our first installment, you can find it here:

10. Katie Wheeler Library and the “Lady in Blue.”

From Newport Beach, we give a hearty “Howdy, Partner” to our ninth most haunted location in Orange County — John Wayne’s personal yacht, the Wild Goose.

9.         John Wayne and the Wild Goose Yacht (Newport Beach)

Orange County is one of the most desirable places in the world to live and many of Hollywood’s most glamorous celebrities have settled in Orange County — Southern California’s Riviera.  Even in the afterlife, it seems that residents don’t want to leave.

Is there any celebrity who means more to Orange County than the Duke himself, John Wayne?  Wayne moved to Orange County in 1960s and lived in Newport Beach until his death in 1979.  He lived at times in Bayshores and Big Canyon, among others, played poker at the Balboa Bay Club, dined at the old Arches Restaurant on PCH and is buried at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar.  Even our airport bares his name.  But no Orange County landmark is more closely associated with the legend of John Wayne than his personal yacht, the Wild Goose.  It is no surprise that according to local legend, the Wild Goose is haunted by the ghost of John Wayne himself.

John Wayne in Rio Bravo (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

The Wild Goose was purchased by Wayne in 1962 and he kept her until his death.  The ship remains docked in Newport Harbor, where it is used for dinner cruises and private parties by Hornblower Cruises.  But is the ghost of John Wayne a stow-away aboard his former yacht?  A number of workers, passengers and adjacent boaters have reported seeing John Wayne walking the decks of the Wild Goose.  Others have reported loud footsteps aboard the deserted ship – footsteps appropriate for a man said to have stood 6’4” in real life.  Maintenance workers and crew have spoken of lights turning themselves on or off, wine glasses mysteriously moving around the tables or doors being locked from within the empty rooms.

As the Rancher Dunson in Red River, John Wayne once said: “Every time you turn around expect to see me.”  Apparently he wasn’t kidding.

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