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‘Matthew Turner’ Approaches Final Checks

Locally built brigantine Matthew Turner provided a picturesque spectacle last weekend as she sailed through some of her final system checks and drills. The ship’s exercises also provided plenty of excellent photo opportunities. San Francisco Bay is known for its abundance of sailing eye candy. But how often do locals see tall ships fly a full set of sails?

Matthew Turner flies her sails on the Bay
One can never underestimate the beauty of a tall ship under sail.
© 2020 Benson Lee

The 132′ brigantine spent the weekend shaking out her sails across the Bay and beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Matthew Turner‘s captain Adrian McCullough says the ship is very close to her final USCG Certificate of Inspection. “This week the ship went out and we practiced setting the sails, maneuvering, and completing drills in preparation for our Coast Guard inspection. The ship looked and sailed the best it ever has.”

While everyone is working hard to get the vessel “operational as soon as possible,” local nonprofit group Call of the Sea is looking forward to welcoming her to their operational fleet.

Matthew Turner sails beneath Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge skews the perspective of the brigantine’s 100-ft mast.
© 2020 Benson Lee

Matthew Turner will join the schooner Seaward in providing on-the-water education for youth and community members across the region.

Mathew Turner will join Call of the Sea's fleet.
Matthew Turner is a replica of the Galilee — one of 228 vessels built by the prolific ship designer and builder Matthew Turner.

Given her historic lines and classic beauty it is easy to imagine Matthew Turner as a fully traditional vessel. However her modern-day construction includes several innovative engineering and electrical features.

Matthew Turner sails by Alcatraz
The old and the new; two icons representing a similar era.
© 2020 Benson Lee

Have you crewed or captained a tall ship — original or replica? Tell us about your favorite historic vessel.


  1. Avatar
    Inge Lorentzen 10 months ago

    Can’t wait to sail on her…

  2. Avatar
    Arnold Oliver 10 months ago

    What a beauty. BTW, she was built to honor Mathew Turner from our state of Ohio

  3. Avatar
    bruce adornato 10 months ago

    The white hull, white sails set on a dark background are striking. I wonder if any of the Gold Rush era sailing vessels had white hulls? I cant recall seeing one.
    I would like to ask about moving the tack of the staysail from the typical position abaft the foremast to the end of the boom on the aftmast. How is that done technically in a breeze?

    • Avatar
      Steven Woodside 10 months ago

      Maybe no white hulls during the Gold Rush era, but brigantine Galilee, built by the Matther Turner shipyard in 1891, had a white hull. It is the model from which our brigantine Matthew Turner was designed.

  4. Avatar
    Joseph DiMatteo 10 months ago

    Many years ago I crewed on occasion several of the So Cal fleet of tall ships. I also did some trips back East and sailed on some of the Maine based schooners with my favorite there being the Stephen Taber. In So Cal my heart belonged to Spike Africa.

  5. Avatar
    Patrick Okey 10 months ago

    Great news! One step at a time. Kudos to crew and volunteers.

  6. Avatar
    Tony M Spooner 10 months ago

    1971, In Costa Rica , had a great experience sailing the Alden designed, 130ft Schooner “Puritan” about 150 miles down the coast. She was in bad shape at that time, but we still got her up to 14-15 kn just before reaching our anchorage near Punta Arenas. Folks there said she looked spectacular with the full “bone in the teeth”. She was moored in Newport Bch with “Goodwill” back in the ’50s, I think. She’s now fully restored and does charters and races out of the Med and Caribbean .

  7. Avatar
    Don Krafft 10 months ago

    Gorgeous! What is the name of the sail flying from the top of the mainmast to the main boom?

    • Avatar
      Keeping Wildflowers 10 months ago

      Looks like maybe a jib to me.

    • Avatar
      Steven Woodside 10 months ago

      It may have more than one name, but it was called by shipbuilder Matthew Turner a “ringtail.”

  8. Avatar
    Captain Linda Gunn 10 months ago

    I own/live aboard a traditional schooner. I spent most of my career as captain or mate or educator on tall ships

  9. Avatar
    Memo Gidley Gidley 10 months ago

    Looked so great on the water! Very thankful to Alan and his group of people for adding an awesome classic boat to the great SF Bay!

  10. Avatar
    Dan Marshall 3 months ago

    What are the innovative electrical and mechanical features?

    My favorite schooner sail is called a gollywobler. It fits up high between the two masts. What I like is the name.

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A Question for the Nation
“Attached is a photo taken from the El Cerrito hills, on the Bay, in the late afternoon of May 24 — I’ve seen this phenomenon many times but this is the first time I documented it,” wrote Larry Radcliffe.
Schedule Adjustments
We'll lead off with some good news: "A muffled cheer may be heard around the docks. The Coast Guard has resumed permitting of racing on the Bay…"