Certificate no 2302
Status Archived


Function Fighting Vessel
Subfunction Gunboat
Location Lake Titicaca
Archive reason Overseas Watch List
Current use Ongoing conservation
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required No


Builder Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company, Blackwall
Built in 1861
Hull material
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Number of masts
Propulsion Steam
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Steam
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
17.50 feet (5.34 m)
10.00 feet (3.05 m)
Length: Overall
150.00 feet (45.75 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed


A long and unusual story of a ship that started on the River Thames in London and ended on Lake Titicaca in Peru, the vessel YAVARI was commissioned by the Peruvuan Government to the James Watt Foundry who subcontracted Thames Ironworks to build the hull.

When fully built the vessel was dismantled and the parts packed in kit form and shipped to Peru to be transported by mules over the Andes mountains to Lake Titicaca which stands at 12500 ft. YAVARI and her sister ship YAPURA were commissioned as gun boats. After dismantling, each piece was numbered and where necessary were painted red or green for port and starboard and sailed for Peru in the steamer MAYOLA in 1862. A team of engineers and Naval personnel travelled to Lake Titicaca in 1863 to prepare for the vessels which were to arrive piecemeal by mule train. Thereafter hostilities with Spain, civil unrest and very slow delivery of the parts of the vessels meant further delay.

The YAVARI was finally launched in 1870 and undertook her maiden voyage in 1871. In 1875 ownership of YAVARI and YAPURA was transferred from the Navy to private interests. They continued to ply the Lake until the 1950s. A Lloyds Condition Survey made in 1983 found that the combination of high altitude and fresh water had maintained the vessel's iron hull in excellent condition and the vessel was deemed worthy of restoration and in 1989 Naval Architect Tim Parr visited to advise on the restoration. In 1998 the vessel was officially opened as a State Museum. She continues to receive many visitors each year from all over the world and is subject of national and international publicity.



Classic Boat: On Lake Titicaca - The iron lady, May 2013
Classic Boat: Peru - Lake steamer, June 2012

Key dates

  • 1861

    Commissioned by Peruvian Government and built in flat pack pieces by James Watt at Soho Foundry

  • 1862

    Loaded in 2,766 pieces on board MAYOLA and then unloaded at Arica docks in Peru  

  • 1869

    Sufficient pieces delivered to Puno on Lake Titicaca for keel to be laid

  • 1870

    YAVARI launched at 3pm on Christmas Day

  • 1914

    YAVARI's hull was extended and her original James Watt steam engine was replaced with a Bolinder crude-oil engine

  • 1975

    Her ownership having passed from Peruvian State Railways to the Peruvian Navy YAVARI falls into disrepair

  • 1982

    Discovered in derelict condition at Puno's port. Fundraising project to save her established by Meriel Larken

  • 1987

    The YAVARI Project formed and YAVARI bought from Peruvian Navy

  • 1998

    YAVARI officially opened as a State Museum fully restored and on public view

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk