A Mystery: TIKI III and “Adventures In Paradise”; Gardner McKay



(I’d give photo credit if I knew to whom to give it…)

It must be because it’s February 1st….  I’m lusting for the South Seas, and have just finished reading Ferenc Mate‘s new book, not yet published (“Sea of Lost Dreams”), which succeeded in making me want to go there all the more…

I grew up heavily influenced by the writings of  Melville, Conrad, R.L. Stevenson, Jack London, Nordhoff & Hall.  And, to a much-lesser extent, James Michener’s “Tales of the South Pacific.”

And I got to thinking about one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid:  “Adventures In Paradise.”  Does anyone else remember it?  A fabulous series for a young boaty teenager….  Captain Adam Troy (played by Gardner McKay) sailing his schooner TIKI III around the South Pacific after World War II, carrying mysterious passengers and cargo…

In the interests of thorough research, I searched Netflix for episodes, but no luck.  And ones available on Amazon are heavily panned for poor quality.

I found bios of Gardner McKay who, I thought I recalled was a grandson of legendary yacht designer Donald McKay.  But I can’t find verification of that.

And then there’s TIKI III was well.  Google led me to this website (forgive the spotty English):


Was/is she wood or steel?  What happened to her?  Who designed and built her?

So, dear readers:  What edification can you offer me?  Please comment below, and maybe there’s a winner’s hat in it for you.

Thank you, as always, for your help.  Carl

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11 Responses to A Mystery: TIKI III and “Adventures In Paradise”; Gardner McKay

  1. Jim Mortier says:

    Carl, here is an interesting link to the series. http://capitainetroy.free.fr/eng/details.html

  2. Gareth says:

    She was in Antigua in 1979, there was a girl on her who gave haircuts, I went aboard for a haircut.
    Her owner was a voluble extremely pleasant American guy who was an exceptional jazz pianist. A friend of mine lived aboard for a short time. I just called her and she remembers it being wood.

    She sunk shortly after that if I remember

  3. htom says:

    Jim beat me to it. There seem to have been several vessels used. I had always thought she was a Bolger design, but it appears not.

  4. Gareth says:

    I looked at Jim’s link and she may have been called the “Pilgrim” but she was not the famous Alden schooner of that name. Being lost in Bequia in 1980 is consistent with my memory., although my friend remembers her being wood, I would not put much weight on that memory

  5. Tad Roberts says:


    This image from the Adventures site shows a wooden boat but she’s not the Alden designed Pilgrim………


  6. John Hanson says:

    I’ve got the videos! Well worth watching in their glorious awfulness. One of his crew members plays a mean uke.

  7. Carl Cramer says:

    Thanks to always-helpful Rose from the WoodenBoat Research Department:

    Hi, Carl,

    I found quite a bit of information for you on this boat, which you had mentioned on your blog, so here goes:

    TIKI was the John Alden designed schooner, named PILGRIM, (contrary to what Gareth replied) and was one of the boats used in the TV series “Adventures in Paradise,” with Gardner McKay portraying Capt. Adam Troy. I say one of the boats because 5 different versions of the schooner, including a 65′ replica, standing steadily on a steel tank in 4 feet of water, with shortened telegraph poles for masts, was used for still-screen views. Many views of PILGRIM’S/TIKI’S interior were shown in the series.

    According to the book, “John G. Alden and His Yacht Designs,” on pg. 202, there is a brief description of PILGRIM. PILGRIM was built in 1932 for yachtsman and adventurer Donald C. Starr of Boston. Built by the Reed-Cook Marine Construction Company right here in good ol’ Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

    According to this source, PILGRIM was later named TIKI and she starred under that name as the inter-island cargo schooner in the “Adventures in Paradise” series.

    After the TV series, TIKI became PILGRIM again and was purchased by the folksinger Glenn Yarbrough in 1965. Then two young men brought her and formed a charter corporation with Yarbrough and her name back to TIKI , and she was totally refurbished to take twenty passengers on weekly cruises in the Virgin Islands. TIKI then sailed the charter trade throughout the 1970s and then represented the Seven Seas Sailing Club of New York and participated in Operation Sail, in 1976 for the Bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence.

    TIKI was sunk in Admiralty Bay, Bequia in 1980 when Hurricane Allen struck. Eventually she was sold to a man from Union Island, who pulled the sticks out of her and stripped her to rig a vessel he was building. The hull was towed west of the island and sunk. (This latest information I got from the book – “The Schooner Pilgrim’s Progress: A Voyage Around the World 1932-1934,” by Donald C. Starr. We have that book in the WB Library.)

    You are correct when you recalled that Gardner McKay was related to clipper shipbuilder, Donald McKay of Boston. Donald was Gardner’s great-great-great grandfather.

    Sadly Gardner McKay (who lived, and hosted a popular radio show in Hawaii) passed away at the early age of 69, from prostate cancer. (Information from http://Captaintroy.free.fr/eng/details.html — think you already checked this website anyway).

    Hope this helps!


  8. Ron Hildebrand says:

    I love wooden boats–they are incredibly beautiful creatures, and I very much appreciate the fine craftsmanship that goes into their construction. However…I’m afraid I’m a confirmed landlubber! The sea really does nothing for me at all, I’m afraid. I’d rather cruise the backroads with the top down in a two-seater sports car!

    But my appreciation of wooden boats, and the fact that I, too, really enjoyed Adventures In Paradise as a pre-teen, is enough to assure my interest is engaged whenever the name “Tiki” comes up.

    Immediately before finding your site, I read the information on the capitainetroy.free.fr site you mention above. I was very disappointed that so many contradictory rumors about the Tiki III were posted that really settled nothing about the history of the Tiki after the show ended.

    But Rose’s account really rings true to me. I had completely forgotten about Glenn Yarbrough until reading her letter here. I was living in the Bay Area back in the late ’60s when I read about his purchase of the Tiki in the SF Chronicle, but that’s where anything I knew about the Tiki post-Adventures ends. It’s a shame that Tiki III came to such an inglorious end, but I’ll always remember her with fondness from Adventures.

    Ron H

  9. Beverly Erickson says:

    Hi. I too am looking for research on the Tiki. I have a friend that claims she sailed on the Tiki after the series was over as a tourist in the Los Angeles area. Also I am searching for clearer copies of the series “Adventures In Paradise.” I have written a book on McKay that is now even an ebook. It was published in 2009.


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  11. Tom R says:

    Was the Schooner called the “Con Tiki” in the TV sseries?

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