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'African Queen' is seaworthy again

April 6, 2012 at 8:23 PM   |   Comments

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KEY LARGO, Fla., April 6 (UPI) -- A Florida couple has restored a 100-year-old steamboat used in the classic Humphrey Bogart-Katharine Hepburn film, "The African Queen," and is offering tours.

Lance and Suzanne Holmquist told The Miami Herald they are leasing the 30-foot riverboat from the owner in exchange for money they earn from giving tours on it in Key Largo.

"There is still an extreme amount of interest in the African Queen," Suzanne Holmquist told the Herald. "Every week, while we were sitting here just two boats away, we would see hundreds of people come to photograph it, look at it and remember it. To watch all the people come and see the boat so deteriorated was such a shame."

The couple said they have spent more than three months and $60,000 restoring the craft, which had languished outside a Holiday Inn for a decade after the death of its previous owner, Jim Hendricks Sr.

Hendricks' son, Jimmy Jr., said he didn't have the money to keep up the boat and was happy to lease it to the Holmquists.

"It broke my heart to see it deteriorating," the younger Hendricks said. "Something had to be done with it and I couldn't get it done. I'm glad Lance and Suzanne have picked it up and are giving the Queen her voice back."

The restoration has the support of Naples resident Stephen Bogart, the son of the late Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

"To think they were sitting here, talking here," Bogart told the Herald, adding he can't wait for his first ride in the boat. "[Director John] Huston was controlling the cameras. Mother was sitting in the boat with Huston, watching it all happen. It really is a chance to imagine. That's what movies are all about."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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