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San Clemente Journal

Spirit of Dana Point Returns to the Harbor

Nov 28, 2022 11:54AM ● By Donia Moore
by Donia Moore 

After the heartbreaking loss two years ago of the Ocean Institute’s Dana Point tall ship icon, The Pilgrim, the “other” tall ship, The Spirit of Dana Point, recently underwent a detailed restoration process at San Diego’s Marine Group Boat Works, which made space for The Spirit to arrive in San Diego Bay on June 20th. 

Although she is safely back home at the Ocean Institute, she is still undergoing rigging restoration but with over 5,000 feet of rigging, it may be a while before she’s ready to go sailing once again.

Originally, the Ocean Institute had their restoration plans approved by the Coast Guard, with a completion date nearing the end of 2022. However, the insurance company required that all vessels in the harbor must be insured and basically shortened the time for the Spirit repairs to 30 days. As the Ocean Institute had been hard hit by the Covid pandemic restrictions, they were at a loss to fund the repairs so quickly. With the help of the generous Sun Family foundation and individual donations ranging from as little as $5, the community pulled together to meet the insurance company’s requirement. School children going door-to-door were able to raise almost $400 from their friends and neighbors. The Ocean Institute’s team worked with partner vessels to ensure that their sailing programs continued over the summer, giving kids the incredible experience they expected.

The crew of the ship is in the process of completely overhauling and refurbishing her rigging at the Ocean Institute. New masts were found in the Pacific Northwest and shipped to the Ocean Institute to be shaped and outfitted with the Spirit’s rigging. Her decking was completely replaced with Douglas Fir planks. Costs were defrayed by donations of Institute members and fans, solidly supported by the Sun Family Foundation.

A Do-It-Yourself Project of Amazing Accuracy
The Spirit of Dana Point is a traditionally built replica of a 1770s privateer schooner used during the American Revolution. These ships were known for their speed and were used for smuggling. The ship is 118 feet long with a rig height of 100 feet and boasting 5,000 square feet of sail.
 Almost 50 years ago, it was Master Shipwright Dennis Holland’s dream to build a replica from the period when America fought for independence. Armed with talent, determination, little money and plans he purchased from the Smithsonian Institution, he laid the keel in his Orange County backyard on May 2, 1970. Thirteen years later, this fast privateer was launched and continues to sail the ocean. Everywhere you look on board is the craftsmanship and pride of early America.
Formerly the Pilgrim of Newport, the re-named Spirit of Dana Point is an excellent teaching platform where students directly experience life at sea as it has been for hundreds of years.  The 118-ft. schooner is used for living history and at-sea maritime programs throughout the year. Although she’s not sailing yet, her Spirit is alive and well and her fans are excited to welcome her home.


The Ocean Institute, founded in 1977, is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that offers in-depth marine science, maritime history, and outdoor education programs, Its mission is to use the ocean as its classroom to inspire children to learn. Ocean Institute provides high quality science education about marine life, conservation, and the habitats and species of the California Pacific Coast. Its diverse program inventory includes STEM programs aligned with California’s educational content standards. www.oceaninstitute.org (949)496-2274.





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