Tag Archives: spirit of dana point

The Ocean Institute at Dana Point, California

Out & About       Halls of History

On September 6, 2019, I was in Dana Point, California, for the 35th Annual Tall Ships & Ocean Festival hosted by the Ocean Institute.

Surprising to me, although I had been to Dana Point, it was on a technicality: I had driven through it on Pacific Coast Highway. I never had stopped to go exploring. This time, I did. There is lots to do in Dana Point, but I do admit I was more interested in the harbor and the Ocean Institute. In the picture below, at the bottom center, several masts from tall ships are visible. That’s the Ocean Institute, at the bottom of the cliff.

Dana Point, California, harbor

The front of the Ocean Institute was undergoing repairs and renovations, so I chose not to take a picture of all the fencing. I suspect you’ve seen fencing before. It’s usually not pretty. It wasn’t. Here’s a picture of the landlocked back side, though:

Ocean Institute at Dana Point, California

Although it is the landlocked side, it is the side that faces the Pacific Ocean, which is why there are so many trails through the vegetation there. People want to see the mighty Pacific, and it’s no wonder with views like this:

The Ocean Institute is located at 24200 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, California. Its mission statement:

Using the ocean as our classroom, we inspire children to learn.

The Ocean Institute was founded in 1977 and educates over 100,000 children, teachers, parents, and visitors each year through over 60 programs on marine science, maritime history, and outdoor education. It occupies 2.4 acres  and also is adjacent to a State Marine Conservation Area.

“Immersion-based field trips” sponsored by the Ocean Institute range from one-hour science labs to multi-day programs at sea and at the Lazy W Ranch in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Programs are designed to maximize immersion, spark curiosity, and inspire a commitment to learning.

There are state-of-the-art teaching labs, including the awesome Maddie James Seaside Learning Center, and two historic tall ships, the Pilgrim and the Spirit of Dana Point. I got to take a 3-hour ride in the Pacific Ocean on the Spirit of Dana Point on September 6.

Passengers on the Spirit of Dana Point

The Pilgrim is a full-size replica of a hide brig, i.e., a brig participating in the California cattle hide trade for her Boston owners, Bryant & Sturgis. The original Pilgrim was built in Boston in 1825 and sank in a fire at sea in 1856. It weighed 180 tons and was 86½ feet long.

The replica was built in 1945 in Denmark, originally as a three-masted schooner. It was converted to its present rigging in 1975 in Lisbon, Portugal. Its deck is 98 feet long with a beam of 24.6 feet, a mainmast height of 98 feet, and a net tonnage of 64. In September 1981 it became part of the Ocean Institute.

Full size replica of Pilgrim, Ocean Institute, Dana Point, California

If you’re a film buff, the Pilgrim might look familiar to you since it was used in the 1997 film, Amistad. If you’re a history buff, Amistad should be on your list of films to watch. I have not seen it and did not know about it until this blog post, which was another surprise because it was directed by Steven Spielberg (one of my favorite directors) and starred Morgan Freeman (one of my favorite actors), Anthony Hopkins (who can forget Silence of the Lambs), and Matthew McConaughey.

As an aside since I’m a graduate of Texas A&M University, Matthew McConaughey now is a Professor of Practice in the Department of Radio-Television-Film in the Moody College of Communication at my arch rival, the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated in 1993.

Amistad is a historical drama film based on the true story of the events in 1839 aboard the slave ship La Amistad, during which Mende tribesmen abducted for the slave trade managed to gain control of their captors’ ship off the coast of Cuba, and the international legal battle that followed their capture by the Washington, a U.S. revenue cutter. The case was ultimately resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1841.

The screenplay was based on the book Mutiny on the Amistad: The Saga of a Slave Revolt and Its Impact on American Abolition, Law, and Diplomacy by historian Howard Jones. The case, United States v. The Amistad (1839) is quite interesting, perhaps the most important decision regarding slavery before the Dred Scot decision in 1857.

The movie is not available on Hulu or Netflix, but I did find it on YouTube for $2.99. As soon as I finish Altered Carbon, I’ll be watching Amistad.

The Ocean Institute also owns an oceanographic research vessel, the Sea Explorer.

Sea Explorer of the Ocean Institute

My Photoshop eye was quick to see that with just a few minutes of work, I could rename the Sea Explorer:

Sex Explorer

Double R Creations & Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

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Spirit of Dana Point

Halls of History

Many hundreds of years ago I wanted to be a history teacher. Then I found out how much money history teachers made in Texas. That was the end of that dream.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to sail on the tall ship Spirit of Dana Point. Since I was on the ship, I could not take a picture of it under sail. So I resort to a picture of it here in San Diego at the Maritime Museum’s Festival of Sail on August 29, 2013:

Spirit of Dana Point in San Diego on August 28, 2013.

The event yesterday was the occasion of the 2019 Tall Ships & Ocean Festival of the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, California.

The Spirit of Dana Point has an interesting history. It is a traditionally built replica of a 1770s privateer schooner used during the American Revolution. They were known for speed, and their speed made them useful for smuggling.

Formerly named Pilgrim of Newport, it was built piece by piece by Dennis Holland (1945-2014), who dreamed of building an accurate replica from the period when America fought for independence. He had talent and determination, as well as plans he purchased from the Smithsonian Institution. He laid the keel on May 2, 1970, in the yard of his Orange County home. It was finished and launched in 1983. The Ocean Institute acquired the ship in 2001, and it continues to sail the ocean under the name Spirit of Dana Point.

While under sail yesterday, we got more behind-the-scenes tales of how the ship was built. When Dennis Holland started running short of money, he and his family moved into the half-completed ship and rented out their home. When tasked with a school project to draw a picture of your home, one of his daughters drew a picture of the boat. Teacher was not too pleased.

Dana Point is a great little beach town. If you ever get the opportunity to drive Pacific Coast Highway (also known as Coast Highway, U.S. 101, California 1), be sure to stop in Dana Point and check out the harbor and the magnificent cliff side homes.

Dana Point, California, harbor

Cliff side homes in Dana Point, California

I will have more about the Ocean Institute and my adventures yesterday on the high seas in upcoming posts.

Double R Creations & Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos