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April 15, 2020

The Late Brig ‘Pilgrim’ in Happier Times

Here’s an update on the sinking of the Pilgrim, the full-scale replica of the merchant brig made famous in Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast.

Brig Pilgrim sailing in light air with full sails circa 2000
Brig Pilgrim sailing in light air circa 2000.
© 2020 Alice Watts / Ocean Institute

After heeling to starboard and settling to the bottom of its slip on March 29, Pilgrim’s owners, the Coast Guard, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and a private vessel assist group labored unsuccessfully to salvage the vessel. They announced on April 6 that the maritime icon of Dana Point will be demolished.

​Built in 1945 in Denmark as a three-masted Baltic trading schooner named Joal, Pilgrim was re-rigged in 1975 as a brig in Lisbon, Portugal, by the designer of the Disneyland tall ship Discovery. She then sailed across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal, and all the way to Southern California.

Pilgrim the Movie Star and Floating Classroom

Since her 1981 arrival in Dana Point Harbor, Pilgrim has served as a floating classroom, teaching 400,000 fourth- and fifth-graders about the sea, California history, and her historic namesake. A bona fide movie star, Pilgrim appeared in films including Amistad and Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie.

Pilgrim afloat in her slip
Pilgrim afloat in her slip.
© 2020 Ocean Institute
Pilgrim with her hull full of water, resting on the bottom
Pilgrim in her final resting place.
© 2020 Ocean Institute

Photos of Pilgrim in Happier Times

Thanks to Alice Watts for sending these photos from her time sailing aboard Pilgrim. Alice was also first mate aboard the scow schooner Alma for many years, teaching the ropes to thousands of school kids. Alice says, “We sailed with the Pilgrim in the ’90s as part of a training program at Hyde Street Pier on the CA Thayer and later for the Balclutha. The Pilgrim went sailing in as close to the traditional manner as possible. We in San Francisco were able to become part of the crew to gain personal experience that would greatly enhance the character on our program in S.F. We sailed points between San Diego and Marina del Rey over the years, and always included the Channel Islands. It was so wonderful to be able to have that experience.”

Brig Pilgrim sailing in light air circa 2000
Brig Pilgrim sailing in light air circa 2000.
© 2020 Alice Watts
The crew of Pilgrim working the lines on deck
Daily chores.
© 2020 Alice Watts
Capt. Jim working on the bowsprit circa 2000
Capt. Jim working on the bowsprit circa 2000.
© 2020 Alice Watts
Captain Jim climbing to the tip of the bowsprit of Pilgrim
Capt. Jim at the tip of the bowsprit.
© 2020 Alice Watts
Pilgrim is docked in front of a southern California hillside
Pilgrim dockside.
© 2020 Alice Watts

Videos, Webinars, Quizzes and Schedule Updates

Webinars and Classes

On February 29, the Cruising Club of America staged a full day of intensive weather seminars. They recorded the presentations and offer them as voice-over slideshow videos. Check them out at

bird above choppy seas
“Weather affects all aspects of our sport,” writes the CCA, “both racing and cruising, as well as all commercial maritime activities.”
© 2020 Cruising Club of America

US Sailing’s Starboard Portal will go live at 1 p.m. PDT today, presenting a Q&A with Charlie Enright and Mark Towill of 11th Hour Racing Team.
Charlie and Mark will discuss their preparation for The Ocean Race in 2021-2022. They will talk about the 11th Hour Racing Team, the route map, and their sustainability efforts. Viewers, have your questions ready for Charlie and Mark in this Q&A session. More live presentations this week include:

  • Thursday, April 16, 11 a.m. PDT
    Terry Hutchinson: American Magic’s Quest for the America’s Cup
  • Friday, April 17, 7 a.m. PDT
    Mike Kuschner: Home Fitness by Sailing Performance Training
  • Friday, April 17, 11 a.m. PDT
    Jon Partridge and Todd Riccardi: Dinghy Sailing Isn’t Dead — Driving Participation Through Modern Inspiring Sailboats

Available to watch now is Episode 3 of Mr. Childers’ Boathouse. “What do we know about the wind? How do we measure it? How can we tell if it’s blowing? Join Coach Chris as we build some gadgets and go for a walk in the park to explore the wind in our backyards.”

Mister Childers' Bothouse
Bay Area sailor Chris Childers hosts this series.
© 2020 US Sailing

Ullman Sails offers an online seminar: Unlocking Sail Trim.

Quantum Webinars this week include:

  • Wednesday, April 15, 1 p.m. PDT
    Drinks with the Pros
    Cameron Appleton with a pro guest. Find out how they got where they are and share some great stories from the journey.
  • Thursday, April 16, 5 p.m. PDT
    Virtual Thistle National Sessions, a Zoom Webinar
    Email Greg Griffin
    Cleveland Yachting Club plans to host the 75th anniversary of the Thistle National Championship on August 1-7. With high hopes the regatta will take place, the Thistle class put together a three-part webinar series led by Greg Fisher. The first session will feature a panel of the class’s top sailors including current National and MWW champion, Greg Griffin, current MWE champion Mike Ingham, and Matt Fisher, last year’s MWE Champion, Pan Am gold medalist and Lightning World Champion.
  • Friday, April 17, 1 p.m. PDT
    System Sailing Part 1: The Boat
    Sailing coach Wally Cross has developed a systematic approach to help sailors look at their boats differently using numbers and best practices. Part one of the 12-part series starts with the foundation, the boat.

After canceling the 2020 Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show, which would have begun tomorrow, Sail America writes, “We recognize that many of you look forward to our seminar series every year. As a token of appreciation for your continued support, we have created a Virtual Seminar and Resource Library. The Virtual Seminar Library will be updated with new seminars each week.”

The 45,000 square-foot historic Craneway Pavilion in Richmond was to have been the on-land site of the boat show. Instead, it has been repurposed into an auxiliary sick ward.


Test your knowledge and brush up on facts with UK Sailmakers’ Racing Rules quiz at

Spinnaker Sailing San Francisco sent out a quiz about weather yesterday. Maybe watch the Weather Seminar referenced at the top of this post then test your new-found wisdom here:

Turning the Corner

We’ll leave it to the health care experts to tell us when we’ve ‘turned the corner’ on the pandemic, but we can already see that we’ve turned the corner on sailing events. Starting in the week ending with Friday, March 13, cancellations poured into our inbox. Now the announcements of SIP alternatives, as evidenced above, have outpaced the slowing trickle of cancellations. Here are the latest of the latter:

US Sailing and the Pensacola Yacht Club have postponed the 2020 U.S. Youth Sailing Championships. The premiere youth sailing event was originally scheduled for June 20-24 in Pensacola, FL. In early May, US Sailing expects to release more information about the event status and possible rescheduling. The application and registration periods will remain open until further notice.

Catalina 37s with red and white spinnakers
The fleet of matched Catalina 37s in last year’s Long Beach Race Week.
© 2020 Tom Walker

Alamitos Bay and Long Beach YCs, the organizers of Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week, have canceled the regatta scheduled for June 26-28. The clubs look forward to hosting the next LBRW on June 25-27, 2021. All current paid entrants will receive automatic entry fee refunds.

The Cruiser’s Mindset

Read why cruisers are more adaptable to changing conditions in Tim Henry’s feature, The Cruiser’s Mindset, Adapting to Any Conditions.

Elana Connor captured a selfie as she rounded Cape Brett and the Bay of Islands’ famed (if simply named) “Hole in the Rock.”
© 2020 Elana Connor

“Ask a cruiser about their plans, and they’re likely to laugh. Most cruisers will tell you that they started with a one- or two-year plan, which evolved into more ocean miles, more countries visited, more money, and more years of their lives.”

Whangarei, New Zealand.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim

“Out of necessity, cruisers develop an adaptive mindset, because cruising life heeds to weather above all else, followed by budgets, bureaucracies, health of both body and vessel, and plain old luck. Plans are important, but they’re just dreams and aspirations. Reality cannot be forecast, and follows no schedule.

“Perhaps we should all be more like cruisers right now: Let go of making plans and let life happen.”

Elana Connor with Gayle and Darrell Smith aboard the Smiths’ Spencer 53 Gone Bambu.
© 2020 Elana Connor

You can read Tim’s complete story on the Cruiser’s Mindset in the April issue here.

Coping with COVID-19
There is no law restricting sailing on San Francisco Bay, though each county has issued guidelines supporting the governor's overall shelter-in-place directive.
Latitude in New Zealand
In 1768, Captain James Cook set sail aboard the 97-ft bark Endeavour, bound for the South Pacific. King George III dispatched the ship from Plymouth.
SIP with Latitude 38
Now offering a Shelter-in-Place special. Three months is just a ‘sip’ of Latitude 38. You can read Latitude 38 at home. The last day to sign up is April 24.