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Meet the Tall Ships of the Maritime Festival

DANA POINT — A tall ship is a large, traditionally-rigged vessel. Popular tall ship models include topsail schooners, brigantines, brigs, and barques. “Tall ship” can also be defined more specifically by an organization, such as for a race or festival.


The Maritime Festival in Dana Point will showcase four tall ships to help educate the public on maritime history. 


Built in 1970, the Spirit of Dana Point is just one of the many reasons people flock to the annual weekend event. Owned by the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, the Spirit is a traditionally built replica of a 1770 privateer schooner used during the American Revolution. These ships were known for speed and used for smuggling. The 118-foot-long ship has a rig height of 100 feet and 5,000 square feet of sail. 


The Bill of Rights, also a schooner, is 136 feet long, built in 1971, and owned by the South Bayfront Sailing Association. A schooner is a type of sailing vessel defined by its rig: fore-and-aft rigged on all of two or more masts, and, in the case of a two-masted schooner, the foremast generally being shorter than the mainmast. The Bill of Rights was designed around the lines of an 1856 America’s Cup schooner, dreamed up by Captain Davis as a swift and agile passenger-carrying vessel. The keel was laid in 1969 in South Bristol, Maine, at the Harvey Gamage Shipyard, and the vessel was officially launched on March 27, 1971, to unprecedented fanfare with attendance surpassing 10,000. 


The Exy Johnson will be on display in all its glory. Built in 2002 and currently owned by the Los Angeles Maritime Institute, the 110-foot-long vessel is categorized as a brigantine, which is a two-masted sailing ship with a square-rigged foremast and a fore-and-aft-rigged mainmast. The brigantine was swifter and more easily maneuvered than a sloop or schooner; therefore, it was employed for piracy, espionage, and reconnoitering as an outlying attendant upon large ships for protecting a ship or for supply or landing purposes in a fleet. 


Lastly, the Irving Johnson will also be sailing in from Los Angeles for the event. The Irving Johnson is the twin to the Exy Johnson and is also a 110-foot-long brigantine built in 2002. The two tall ships were named in honor of Irving Johnson and his wife Electra and their commitment to sailing. Irving McClure Johnson was an American sail training pioneer, adventurer, lecturer, and writer. His wife, Electa S. “Exy” Johnson, was an American author, lecturer, adventurer, and sail training pioneer. Throughout her life, she completed many sailing feats, including sailing around the world seven times while training younger sailors.


Tall ships are a celebration of floating history. Their traditional riggings comprise a system of ropes, cables, and chains, which support the towering, majestic masts. Standing rigging includes shrouds and stays, which adjust the position of the vessel’s sails and spars to which they are attached. Running rigging includes halyards, braces, sheets, and vangs. 

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