The tall ships are coming to San Diego Bay, Thursday, August 29, for the annual Festival of Sail. This Labor Day weekend event, hosted by the Maritime Museum of San Diego, begins with a parade of ships as they enter the bay and make their way to the docks of the Maritime Museum on the North Embarcadero.
Leading the parade is the official tall ship of California, the 1984 schooner Californian. She is a replica of the Revenue Cutter C. W. Lawrence (1847) used for patrolling the coast during the era of the California Gold Rush. She became part of San Diego’s Maritime Museum fleet in 2002. Since then, she has served hundreds of school children annually through educational programs of American Revolution history, Youth-At-Risk and sail training. She also offers public sails on weekends and sail expeditions to Catalina. The Revenue Cutter Service was the forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard.
The ships, individually and collectively, represent quite a history of sail. The twin brigantines, Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson, were designed for the TopSail Youth Program of the Los Angeles Maritime Institute. These ships were named after the husband and wife team who sailed around the world seven times within 25 years beginning in the 1930s.
Several of the participants are schooners. Spirit of Dana Point is a replica of a privateer from the 1770s used during the American Revolution. Privateers were authorized by the government to attack foreign ships during wartime. Curlew was built in 1926 for Charles Andrew of the New York Yacht Club before serving as a sail training vessel and patrol boat for the Coast Guard. American Pride (1941) started out in commercial fishing in the Grand Banks. Jada (1938), originally a schooner, was converted to a yawl for racing. A seasoned racer, she won the Tahiti race in 1969. Today, she takes passengers on whale watching cruises and is available for charters.
The largest active tall ship on the West Coast is also a schooner. Tole Mour was built in Puget Sound to withstand extreme weather conditions of the South Pacific. She provided medical and dental care to thousands of people in the Marshall Islands for four years. She is currently part of the Catalina Island Marine Institute’s Guided Discoveries, a program that provides sail training and sea camps for school children.
In addition to the parade itself, events during August 30 through September 2nd include the America’s Cup races, tall ship cannon battles, cruises of San Diego Bay on a 1914 pilot boat, public cruises aboard tall ships, plenty of vendors and dockside activities for the whole family.
For a complete list of participating ships and schedule of events, please visit the Festival of Sail section of the Maritime Museum of San Diego website.
Written by: Cynthia Collins, Senior Museum Correspondent
Festival of Sail — schedule
Tall ship parade route