The Late Brig Pilgrim in Happier Times
by Tom Burden
Here is an update on the sinking of the Pilgrim, the full-scale replica of the merchant brig made famous in Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before The Mast. After heeling to starboard and settling to the bottom of its slip on March 29th, Pilgrim's owners, the Coast Guard, the Orange County Sheriff and a private vessel assist group labored unsuccessfully to salvage the vessel. Tragically, they announced on April 6th that maritime icon of Dana Point will be demolished.
Built in 1945 in Denmark as a three-masted Baltic trading schooner named Joal, Pilgrim was rerigged in 1975 as a brig in Lisbon, Portugal by the designer of the Disneyland tall ship Discovery. She then sailed across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal and all the way to Southern California.
Pilgrim the movie star and floating classroom
Since her 1981 arrival in Dana Point Harbor, Pilgrim has served as a floating classroom, teaching 400,000 fourth and fifth graders about the sea, California history and her historic namesake. A bonified movie star, Pilgrim appeared in films including Amistad, and Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie.
Thanks to Alice Watts for sending these photos from her time sailing aboard the Pilgrim. Alice was also first mate aboard the scow schooner Alma for many years, teaching the ropes to thousands of school kids.
Photos of the Pilgrim in happier times