On Friday I drove 77 miles to Dana Point, California, to take a 3-hour ride on the tall ship Spirit of Dana Point. The occasion was the opening of the 35th Annual Tall Ships & Ocean Festival hosted by Ocean Institute.
Since these events are quite popular in Southern California, I left at 4:00 a.m. to get there earlier than everyone else so that I could get good parking. I parked and walked around the harbor watching the sun rise.
In the 1830s and 1840s, the natural harbor was a popular port for ships bringing supplies to the Mission San Juan Capistrano located nearby. The earliest known visit to the harbor was in 1818. Argentine sailor Hippolyte de Bouchard anchored in the harbor while conducting a raid on the mission.
Dana Point was incorporated as a city on January 1, 1989, and had a population of 33,351 in the 2010 census. The city was named after the headland of Dana Point, which was named after Richard Henry Dana Jr., author of Two Years Before the Mast, published in 1840, who had docked his ship, Pilgrim, in the harbor in 1835.
Two Years Before the Mast is an account of the Pilgrim’s 1834-35 voyage between Boston and California. In it, Dana described the area as the only romantic spot on the coast.
Pilgrim was a sailing brig 86½ feet long and weighing 180 tons. It had been built in Boston in 1825 and went down in a fire at sea in 1856. There is a full-size replica at the Ocean Institute in the harbor at Dana Point.
Pilgrim used to sail but it is in need of major repairs. Right now the money isn’t available to make those repairs, so it appears to be permanently docked at this time.
The harbor is quite beautiful and a joy to walk around watching people, boats, wildlife, sunrises, and sunsets.
Coming up next: More about the Ocean Institute.