Skip to content

‘Matthew Turner’ Struts Her Stuff off San Francisco

While we were making the (not) first-ever circumnavigation of Red Rock on Saturday, a certain Bay Area boat was enjoying a first-ever of her own. “We sailed Matthew Turner across the Bay to the San Francisco Cityfront, along the Embarcadero, then back around Alcatraz to Sausalito,” said our roving reporter John ‘Woody’ Skoriak. “It was the first time we hoisted the main and all the sails, including the square sails and jib. It was a fabulous day, as you know.”

After years of anticipation, Matthew Turner finally let all her sails hang out and stretched her legs.
© 2019 John Skoriak

Skoriak said that under the command of Matthew Turner‘s captain, Adrian McCollough, a long-time tall-ship sailor, rigger and shipwright extraordinaire, a  great time was had by all aboard as she sailed along beautifully. “We have done quite a few sailing trials between the rainy days, mostly experimenting with the square sails,  but this time we hoisted the main as well. She tacked, jibed, sailed downwind, upwind, against the current and with the current. No matter where we pointed her, she just wanted to charge ahead.”

Top photo: Matthew Turner sails off the Cityfront. Bottom: Call of the Sea’s Sylvia Stompe takes the wheel.
© 2019 John Skoriak

“In addition to our experienced captain Adrian, we also had our rock star rigger/tall-ship sailors along,” Skoriak continued. “This group of tall-ship sailors — all volunteers as well — included Keil Kohler, who ran the deck as mate, Noah Limbach, who was bos’n, and Virginia Jay ( “Dinnie”) from Boston. These experienced young hands helped the Matthew Turner volunteers ‘learn the ropes’, literally. At least on Matthew Turner it seemed that the young riggers could teach ‘old dogs’ new tricks . . .”

How many crew does it take to raise and lower a tall ship’s mainsail? We’re really not sure. Let’s just say a lot.
© 2019 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John Skoriak

‘Many of Matthew Turner’s longtime volunteers like Neil are very experienced sailors — some are even boat owners — and are very competent handling any type of sailboat. But on Matthew Turner, there are a lot more sails than just the main, mizzen  and jib or genoa.

A tall-ship sailor works Matthew Turner’s yards. Just think, in the old days, they did this without harnesses. But in the old days, life expectancy was 37.
© 2019 John Skoriak

“There are upper and lower topgallants, royals, skysails, maybe even a moonraker, spankers, courses, etc. And to make them all set and work properly, there is a veritable forest of lines, buntlines, guys, braces, pendants and lifts. It might all sound like a Patrick O’Brian novel , but as we know, the Matthew Turner is the real thing.”

Top: That’s East Coaster Virginia ‘Dinnie’ Jay taking charge. Bottom: Another pass by the Cityfront. Skoriak said that after the New Year, watch out for the Matthew Turner on the Bay. “She’s  coming to visit a dock near you.” Weather permitting, of course.
© 2019 John Skoriak

Here’s a quick little video of Saturday’s sail . . .

Brigantine Mathew Turner on San Francisco Bay from Charles Hambleton on Vimeo.

 . . . And last, but certainly not least, let us not forget the visionary who made this all possible.

Alan Olson, the project director at Call of the Sea, had an idea to build a tall ship. A handful of years later, the dream materialized.
© 2019 John Skoriak

Check out the January issue of Latitude for more photos from Matthew Turner’s first sail.

This story has been updated.


  1. Sherri Wilkinson 3 years ago

    So glad she was in full sail ! Sorry I am not there to see her!! Lots of hard work and dedication to get there. Go helmsman Sylvia!

  2. Linda Newland 3 years ago

    Absolutely beautiful. A dream realized.

  3. Memo Gidley 3 years ago

    Very cool to see her built in Sausalito and now sailing!

  4. Rebecca Deasy 3 years ago

    So lovely to see Mathew Turner getting her sea legs! What a wonderful legacy to the man. Hope to see it in person soon. Congrats!

  5. Dan Knox 3 years ago

    Congratulations. Well done.

  6. Frank Schlosser 3 years ago

    Unbelievable feat… beautiful ship… thanks to all the volunteers who made it happen…
    I have 6 years of Saturday’s helping with the build

Leave a Comment

But the fire is so delightful
It’s windy. And it’s gonna rain. Rapidly spreading crappy weather with a high chance for dreary later today.
A Shift in the Lineup
SailGP announced the addition of the Spain SailGP Team to the global championship’s Season 2 lineup. Replacing China, Spain will join Australia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Japan and the United States.