The Princess Donna was built in 1934 . Just imagine the stories she could tell....
She's the oldest operating U.S. flagged commercial tour boat in Florida. A true piece of Florida History.
The average Cost of a new house was $5,970.00 Average wages per year $1,600.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas 10 cents
Average Cost for house rent $20.00 per month
A loaf of Bread 8 cents
A pound of Hamburger Meat 12 cents
A new Studebaker Truck $625.00
These boats were one of the first tourist attractions in the state and people came from all over the country for a boat ride and to view the beautiful pristine natural springs. At the time, Silver Springs was perhaps the most successful and elaborately displayed single tourist attraction in America.
She’s powered by an electric motor just like she was in 1934 except now with a modern electric outboard. At one time this wood boat had 15 sister ships. They were all being phased out beginning in 1961 for aluminum boats that a few still operate to this day at Silver Springs Florida. She's the only operational early circa boat remaining. Even though we have a current US Coast Guard COI that allows us to carry 12 passengers plus 2 crew, we are going to phase it out and eventually operate with only 6 passengers. This is known as an OUPV. It stands for Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel (OUPV) also referred to as a Six-pack, which allows the captain to operate a vessel with up to six paying passengers plus one crew member.
This boat operated for nearly 30 years and then left to rot for over 50 years before I found her as an unexpected barn find. It had to be totally rebuild, cost me lots of money (a bit over $150,000 to date) and an arduous process to get her approved to operate once again as a US Coast Guard licensed small passenger vessel.
Sadly not many records can be found about these old boats. I don't have any record of the boats original name, just the year. When I found her, someone had her named 'Princess Anne' which was definitely not the original name. Carl Ray and W.M. "Shorty" Davidson leased the Silver Springs property for 50 years from Columbus Carmichael starting in July 1924 and records show the following names are all the glass bottom boats Ray & Davidson had listed with the department of commerce between 1930 and 1960 (Merchant Vessels of the United States Publication).
Over the years some of these boats had their names changed and some went on to serve at Paradise Park which was a recreational facility "for colored people only" founded and run by the same management from 1949-69 adjacent to the original park.
Bonnie Ray, Hannah, Harriet, No Name, Ocala, Ocklawaha, Old Sawannee, Seminole, Silverliner, The Madden, The Richey, Uncle Dave, Walter Ray, Wenona, Bill Blue and Jane.
Our boats original name from narrowing down closest by year built is most likely:
Harriet, The Richey, Bill Blue or Walter Ray
Contact me if your interested in buying her, but serious inquires only
Above is our boat operating in December of 2019 with a boat load of passengers as usual at our prior home in beautiful Bokeelia Florida.
Our second boat is a 20 foot fiberglass pontoon built in 2016 locally by A&M Manufacturing and then customized into a glass bottom tour boat in early 2021.
The boat is fully covered with a double bimini top for your comfort and fitted with 3 individual glass bottom tanks to view the beauty below the surface. She is not a USCG inspected small vessel like the Princess Donna so she can only carry up to 6 passengers and 2 crew members per trip.