Primero was a steam yacht built in 1893. This vessel was
once considered one of the most luxurious yachts on the West
Coast of the United States, and was one of the few steam
yachts to be operated on Puget Sound. The yacht has since
been converted to diesel, but it remained operational as of
Design and construction
El Primero, constructed at San Francisco, California, was
the first steam yacht built on the west coast of the United
States. The yacht had an auxiliary sail rig. The steam
engine was rated at horsepower, driving the vessel at a
maximum speed of 13.5 knots.
The yacht's original owner was Edward W. Hopkins, heir to
the wealth of his uncle, Mark Hopkins, for whom the Mark
Hopkins Hotel is named. In 1896 Hopkins was the member of
the San Francisco and the Pacific yacht clubs.
In 1906 Hopkins sold the yacht to Chester Thorne of Tacoma,
and the yacht thereafter came to be based in Puget Sound.
Thorne in turn wagered the yacht in a craps game and lost
the game, and the yacht, to Sidney Albert “Sam” Perkins
(1865-1955), a newspaper publisher. El Primero transported
four different presidents, including for example William
Howard Taft when he came to Seattle to visit the
Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909.
During World War II the yacht was taken into the U.S. Navy
as a patrol vessel, and returned to Perkins in 1947. During
the 1950s, there were only two steam yachts operational on
Puget Sound, El Primero and Aquilo.
After Perkins' death in 1955, the yacht went to his heirs
and was later purchased by Sy Devening who was doing
business as Puget Sound Excursion Lines, who converted it to
diesel power. The yacht passed through two subsequent
owners, an American (Arther B Church) and a Canadian, and
was taken out of service in the year 2000, remaining at a
dock in Blaine, Washington.
In 2010, the yacht was purchased by a semi-retired tug
captain and engineer. Encountering engine troubles, the new
owner had the vessel hauled out at Port Townsend for
repairs. With the vessel still in need of restoration, as of
January 2010 the new owner was considering taking the yacht
to Mexico or Thailand to have the work done. 2013 Ship
proudly berthed and displayed at Bremerton, Washington
Marina for maintenance, tours, and public functions.