Membership has its privileges… click here to read or make an observation about this  article
By Scott Calman - San Diego, California - USA

Here are a few thoughts and photos from a trip to The San Diego Maritime Museum in August 2005. Membership has its privileges. As a member you occasionally get offers to go out on the boats for lunch cruises and other fun things.

What sets the San Diego Maritime Museum apart from most other maritime museums is that all our boats are seaworthy and are used for various educational and outreach programs.

The fleet consists of seven vessels:

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The Flagship is the Star of India, A 3 masted Bark. Formerly known as the Euterpe, her keel was laid in Ramsey, Isle of Man in 1863. She is made of iron and is the oldest active ship in the world and sail at least 4 times a year. She is a veteran of 21 circumnavigations and was a frequent visitor to New Zealand in the Emigrant trade.

Steam Ferryboat Berkeley. This is an old steam car ferry from San Francisco and is no longer under her own power but is afloat and is the “anchor of the museum as offices, shops, and exhibit spaces.

click to enlargeHMS Surprise, 179 ft. Known for her role in Master and commander, She is actually the HMS Rose, Her keel was laid in 1970 and she was a sail trainer on the East coast for 30 years before being refitted to look like a 17th century British frigate. She is scheduled for another refit to return her to sail training duty in the next 2 years.

click to enlargeThe Steam Yacht Medea: Originally, the steam yacht was built for William Macalister Hall of Torrisdale Castle, Scotland, to be used for entertaining and hunting trips around the waterways in western Scotland. She was completed on August 29, 1904, in a record building time of 51 days. Built of steel and furnished with imported teak and quarter-sawn oak, the Medea is an impressive and beautiful little boat. She has served in two world wars, under three navies and six national flags. Her 254 horsepower compound reciprocating engine will propel her at 10 knots, but her economical cruising speed is 8 1/2 knots. Built with a coal-fired boiler, she was converted to oil in 1964.

click to enlargeThe Californian: Built in San Diego in 1984 (I helped caulk her bilges) The Californian is a replica of the 1847 Revenue Cutter C.W. Lawrence, that patrolled the coast of California enforcing federal law during the gold rush. Designed for speed, Californian has nine sails, carries 7,000 square feet of canvas, measures 145 feet in length, weighs 130 tons and is armed with four six-pound deck guns. She casts a distinctive and instantly recognizable silhouette and has become one of the most well known tall ships in America. She is available for summer weekend sail cruises to Catalina Island as well as daily summer gun battles in San Diego harbor. In the winter she is used as a sail trainer for Youth at Risk programs. BTW, She really is fast, I have seen her beat an older Americas Cup Sloop up the bay more than once.

Pilot: A Pilot boat that saw active service in San Diego for 84 years and is now used for school kid adventures and other fun stuff.
Butcher Boy: A cat rigged wooden sailboat that used to deliver meat to ships that came into harbor. She is occasionally sailed but is currently out of the water.

Wings: An old oak and mahogany racing boat from the Kettenberg yards.

The story:

My dad Gene, my son Zac and I were invited for a Thursday Luncheon cruise aboard the Medea so I promptly cut work and met My dad at the docks ready to go with my son. After checking out what was up at the docks, we went aboard for a departure time of 11 AM.

On the Embarcadero in display are Wings, A Kettenberg sailboat from the 1920s, and the wonderful Butcher boy a gaff rigged catboat that was used to victual sailing ships in San Diego harbor. Butcher Boy was getting her bottom painted. Note the classic barn door rudder on this beautiful old lady.

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Wings
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Butcher Boy

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Ships Boat

Star of India

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The Medea is a yacht for the rich and famous. She is fully appointed and normally would have a crew of eight. A master, 2nd mate, chef, steward, engineer, and 3 ABs (Able Seaman). The entire crew stayed in the forecastle and the rest of this little ship is either engines, tankage, or guest quarters. The layout of the accommodations is such that there is no way to get from the forward to the aft staterooms without going on deck.

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Medea Companionway

Media Stateroom

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This is due to the steam engine and tankage all being amidships. The beautiful thing about steam power is the relative silence on deck. There is a little “huffing” from the stack but otherwise you would not know she was running without sticking your head into the engine spaces.

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Medea Engine

Media Mainsteam

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To get away from the wharf, the Californian (78’ Schooner) moved off the dock first and then we powered out by kicking the bows away with a spring line and off we went. Behind us were beautiful views of the city and the museum boats.

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Californian Stern

Media Fantail

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Medea Stern

Media Bow

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Wings

Star of India

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The Californian made a loop around us and went back to the wharf and we were off!

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The Californian

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On the way to Americas Cup Harbor we witnessed a lot of US Navy activity, A Cruiser coming in and some SEAL teams doing small boat drills. We were feted with Dry sack Sherry, Single malt Scotch Whiskey, both traditions on the Medea, and a nice lunch of sandwiches and appetizers. As is always the case, Since the waterline and gross tonnage of the vessel did not change, we were informed we gained no calories eating the free grub. It all ended way too soon, we gently motored back to the museum and we all went back to our normal lives as ordinary working folks.

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Navy Ships

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Scott Calman

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