About the Pilgrim

General information

The Pilgrim is a full-sized replica of the merchantman brig immortalized by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. in his American seafaring classic novel Two Years Before the Mast. This historic voyage is the basis for the Ocean Institute’s Two Years Before the Mast education program.

Length on deck: 98′
Beam: 24.6′
Mainmast height: 98′
Net tonnage: 64
Built: 1945, Denmark

The original Pilgrim was built in 1825 at a cost of $50,000. Her length was a mere 90 feet compared to the average 110 feet for other vessels of the same class. The purpose of its 1834 voyage was to participate in the California cattle hide trade for her Boston owners, Bryant and Sturgis. The Pilgrim set sail from Boston loaded with New England’s manufactured goods such as shoes, foodstuffs and ironware. When she arrived along the Alta California coast, the Pilgrim sold or traded her New England wares and procured hides from the missions and rancheros to sell back in Boston. The Pilgrim anchored several times at San Juan Bay (Dana Point).

Today’s Pilgrim started her life in 1945 as a three-masted schooner plying the Baltic coastal trade out of Denmark. In 1975, she was sailed to Lisbon, Portugal by Captain Ray Wallace, the noted marine architect, where she was converted to her present rig.

The Pilgrim entered Dana Point Harbor in September 1981, amidst tremendous community support, destined to become the Ocean Institute’s largest classroom. Today, the Pilgrim provides national award-winning living history programs to thousands of students each year.

In early September, the Pilgrim and maritime history are celebrated in the annual Tall Ships Festival. The Pilgrim is also available for both public and private dockside tours.

Pilgrim Open House

Most Sundays the historic tallship Pilgrim hosts an “Open House” for the public. Families and individuals of all ages are invited to come aboard and learn more about our unique nautical heritage. Our docents, dressed in period costume, will greet and guide you as they bring you back in time to the golden age of sail. Sing sea chanteys, listen to nautical lore, help raise sail or just stroll the decks and enjoy the ambiance. 

Please note that certain times of year the Pilgrim is closed due to special programming or when she is on her annual goodwill sail along the coast of Southern California. Please check the public program calendar for these event dates.