Morro Bay’s Maritime Museum celebrates World War II tugboat, permanent site

It’s full steam ahead for the Central Coast Maritime Museum Association. This weekend. the organization will celebrate the arrival of a new exhibit and show off the site where a museum will soon be built.

The association has been dedicated to displaying the region’s seafaring history since the early 1990s. The group has preserved a number of historic seacrafts, including the DSRV-2 Avalon rescue submarine, which has become a familiar sight for visitors to Morro Bay’s Embarcadero.

Now, thanks to a partnership with the city, the museum association will have a permanent location at 1210 Embarcadero, immediately north of the parking lot where the submarine has been on display. The organization on Saturday and Sunday will introduce its new site to the public and promote its latest attraction: the Alma, a 48-foot-long tugboat.

The Alma was launched in San Francisco Bay in 1927, said Larry Newland, executive director of the Museum Association.

“The same year Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic, this boat went into the water,” he said.

During World War II, the Alma towed targets for the U.S. Army and Navy. The tugboat also rescued the crew of an oil tanker torpedoed by a Japanese submarine near the Cambria coast, Newland said.

The Alma was eventually retired and given to the museum association as a donation, Newland said. Volunteers restored the Alma using funds from the Hind Foundation and the Morro Bay Harbor Festival. The tugboat, along with the submarine, will be moved to permanent display platforms at the museum association’s new location.

The city helped the association acquire the Embarcadero site, which is on the south side of the old Morro Bay Power Plant. After Dynegy closed the plant in early 2014, the city took over the adjoining parking lot, City Manager Dave Buckingham said. Part of the lot will now be used by the museum association.

The association is in the midst of raising the $40,000 needed to construct its first permanent building, which Newland said would be about the size of a two-car garage. The structure should be finished sometime in 2017, Newland said.

The City Council in 2015 and 2016 made supporting the association a specific objective, and it views the museum as a potential tourist attraction, Buckingham said.

“We’re looking for every opportunity to help the museum grow,” he said.

Those interested in checking out the Alma can stop by the museum association’s new site from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. A barbecue will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseyholden27

If you go

Visit the Central Coast Maritime Museum Association’s new site, where the Alma tugboat and the DSRV-2 Avalon submarine will be on display.

When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m Saturday and Sunday. A barbecue sponsored by Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant will be held noon to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Where: 1210 Embarcadero, between Beach Street and the Morro Bay Power Plant.

Cost: Free to visit the site. Tickets to tour the DSRV-2 Avalon submarine are $5 for adults; children 12 and younger are free. Tickets for the barbecue are $15 for adults, $7 for children. Barbecue tickets are available at Coalesce Bookstore, 845 Main Street, and at the event on Sunday.