Schooner Zodiac was built for the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical heirs in 1924 for use as a private yacht. Zodiac was designed by William H. Hand, Jr., to epitomize the best features of the American fishing schooner. The Johnsons sailed it up and down the East Coast and participated in the King’s Cup Race across the Atlantic to Spain in 1928.
From 1929 until 1931, the schooner Zodiac was owned by Arthur J. Nesbitt, of Montreal. He renamed the schooner Airdeane and docked the vessel in Nova Scotia and it cruised the coasts of Labrador and the Canadian Maritimes. In 1931, Arthur J. Nesbitt donated the Airdeane to the Grenfell Mission, which provided medical and educational services to Labrador and Northern Newfoundland. For more information on the Zodiac’s Canadian Chapter please check out this article written by Arthur J. Nesbitt’s grandson Deane Nesbitt Jr.
The Zodiac again changed hands during the great depression and was purchased by the San Francisco Bar Pilots. Renamed California, she enjoyed a storied career in San Francisco Bay before retiring in 1972 as the last American pilot schooner. She was purchased and restored by a community of shipwrights, sailors and historians who formed the Vessel Zodiac Corporation and operate her as a charter vessel from her homeport in Bellingham, WA. The Zodiac was added to the National Register of Historic Places by act of Congress in 1982.
Watch our video below featuring
historical footage of the Schooner Zodiac courtesy of her first owners the Johnson & Johnson Family!