Miracle on Marinship Way

It began as you see it, above.

By Kimball Livingston Posted October 27, 2014

I don’t mind telling you, the first time I heard about a plan to build a 132-foot wooden brigantine to serve as a new school ship, I thought,

“Uh oh.”

But dreamers can be doers.It’s been a quarter of a century since Alan Olson first began using sailboats on San Francisco Bay as an outreach to at-risk youth. Today, on a much-expanded teaching mission, the nonprofit Call of the Sea reaches 5,000 students a year with the schooner, Seaward, but can’t keep up with demand. The brigantine-to-be, Matthew Turner, is intended to expand that compass to 17,000 kids a years experiencing first-hand the ecology, wildlife, and interconnections of things around them often seen but “unseen.”

On the evening of October 25, during Game 4 of the 2014 World Series, true believers and former doubters gathered under a tent—a huge tent—to celebrate a “Blessing of the Bones.” That is, completion of the framing. Would you believe . . .


By golly, think they’re going to make it.

The mood was up as people explored . . .


The angels are in the details, and they don’t have to be pretty, yet . . .


And this . . .


Leads to this . . .


Yep, it’s going to be a long way above the water. Jackson Pollack was here?


The volunteers were eager . . .


Alan Olson was in form, and he still is not a fan of pirate parties . . .


Now it’s back to the workaday project—but this workaday project has its volunteers inspired. And they’re friendly.

Here’s what they say at Educational Tall Ship:

Visit the Matthew Turner build site by the Bay Model in Sausalito – See history come alive!

We are located at 2330 Marinship Way in Sausalito CA. You really can’t miss the huge tent, so please stop by and see what we’re up to! You’ll find someone here from 8-4, Monday-Saturday, and, if you’re so inclined, sign up to volunteer and join us as we construct the first tall ship to be built in this area in over 100 years,

Wood from sustainably-managed forests.

Propulsion when needed from regenerative electrics.

That’s the Matthew Turner to be.

Every sailor should know the name, Matthew Turner. Not to try to improve upon the writing at Educational Tall Ship, Turner

turner. . . immigrated to the Bay Area from his home on the shores of Lake Erie in 1850. He came to California to try his luck in the gold fields and, finding success, he traveled back to the East Coast to purchase a ship, for he saw more potential in the shipping business than in the gold trade. He began his career in the booming coastal lumber trade but quickly found that he needed more ships. Not impressed with the available vessels at that time, he pulled together what he had learned from his father about ship design and building on Lake Erie and his experience with contemporary vessels in the Pacific to build his first ship, the Nautilus, in 1868. The Nautilus out-performed all other ships of the time, raising the bar in sailing ship design. At that time on the East Coast, design innovation in commercial sail was at a standstill, as steamships became the focus.

But on the West Coast, long distances, lack of coal and the industrial capacity to produce large steam engines gave sailing vessels the edge until the turn of the century. The Nautilus launched Turner’s career and he is considered the most prolific builder in history, with 228 vessels built by the end of his career in 1907.

His vessels were responsible for the success of many entrepreneurs of his time. Matson Lines began their operations with the Lurline. Spreckles Sugar had a fleet of Turner’s ships, as did C&H Sugar. His ships moved between San Francisco and Hawaii at record speeds, making 13 round trips in one year, including loading and unloading. Only the largest and fastest modern sailing yachts can hope to beat the 8 days and six hours trip From SF to Hawaii by the Lurline and the 9 day trip from Honolulu to SF by the W.G. Irwin. Turner himself discovered the Alaska cod industry and owned and operated the first packet ships between San Francisco and Tahiti.



In San Diego, CA, the Maritime Museum’s building project, a replica of the Cabrillo’s 1542 galleon, San Salvador, was the subject of a “near completion” celebration in September. The project’s web site doesn’t have much to offer regarding this stage of construction, but the pictures are looking good.



Congratulations to the UK team that ran away with the regatta last week in La Rochelle, France. The standings tightened up below second, behind Italy and Norway, with the USA team from Cal Maritime finishing sixth out of twelve. Here’s Cal Maritime after the wind finally came up, and below, the happy podium threesome . . .



Suns New Jerseys