Tall Ship Matthew Turner Launches From Sausalito

Matthew Turner-a historic, sustainable wooden brigantine schooner designed to provide experiential education for students-is the first tall ship built and launched in the San Francisco Bay Area in nearly 100 years.

Matthew Turner is 132 feet long, 25 feet wide and will weigh 175 tons when fully complete. It is the first tall ship constructed and launched in the Bay Area in over 100 years, and takes its name from a legendary West Coast shipwright of the nineteenth century. Turnerís designs inspired the new vessel, which is also outfitted with state-of-the-art environmental features. Photo by John Skoriak

BY BC STAFF

Published: May, 2017

 

Matthew Turner—a historic, sustainable wooden brigantine schooner designed to provide experiential education for students—is the first tall ship built and launched in the San Francisco Bay Area in nearly 100 years. The ship rolled down her launch ramp at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dock in Sausalito on Saturday, April 1.

 

Thousands attended the festivities surrounding the launch, which included multi-denominational blessings from a Buddhist lama, a Native American shaman, a Muslim imam and an Episcopal bishop. These blessings were followed by short speeches, the ship’s christening by Matthew Turner’s great-great-granddaughters and music from a variety of great local bands.

 

Matthew Turner represents an innovative blend of 19th century design with 21st century technology, and is intended to be the most environmentally sustainable vessel of this type ever built,” said Alan Olson, Call of the Sea’s cofounder and Matthew Turner project director.

 

Matthew Turner is 132 feet long, 25 feet wide and will weigh 175 tons when fully complete. Throughout construction and later during operation, Matthew Turner has been designed to tread lightly on the Earth. For example, building materials, such as the Douglas fir for the ship’s frames and planks, were sourced locally and regionally from Forest Stewardship Council-certified forests. Extensive evaluations have ensured that coatings and paints are eco-friendly. And a custom electric propulsion system will regenerate electricity to banks of high-capacity while under sail.

 

Construction of the Matthew Turner shipyard began in February 2013 in the Marinship area of Sausalito. The keel was laid in October 2013, the “bones” (frames) were christened in November 2014, and the whiskey plank (the final plank of the hull, traditionally celebrated with a shot of whiskey) was installed in June 2016.

 

Achieving these milestones, and bringing the ship to where it is today, was made possible by the outstanding support of the Bay Area maritime community. Over 400 volunteers have donated their time and passion to supplement the six paid staffers working on the ship. With over 100,000 volunteer hours (and counting), Matthew Turner continues to be a widely inclusive building project that will connect the community of students to the sea through out-of-the-classroom experiential learning opportunities.

 

Equally as important as the volunteer contributions is the generous financial support of donors, who have provided over $5 million of money and in-kind donations. And while this is a significant achievement, the ultimate completion of the ship still requires an additional $750,000 of funding.

 

One of the volunteers who assisted on the Matthew Turner, Brad Silen, explained what Call of the Sea’s programs mean to him and his family: “It has been our goal to give our teenage daughter exposure to a wide range of knowledge and experiences. The foundation of maritime history and traditions experienced aboard a tall ship has been a fantastic way to strip away the usual patterns of everyday life and has allowed us to connect more deeply with our environment.”

 

The inspiration for the ship’s design comes from Matthew Turner himself, a pioneering naval architect and the most prolific boat builder on the West Coast from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. He completed construction of 228 ships during his 40-year career from his shipyards in San Francisco Bay and Benicia.

 

Among Turner’s ships was the Galilee, a brigantine built in 1891 as a cargo ship for trade between San Francisco, Hawaii and Tahiti. While most of Matthew Turner’s records and plans were lost in a fire, the lines for the Galilee were available from the San Francisco Maritime Library. These lines were provided to Tri-Costal Marine to design Matthew Turner.

       

Work will continue on Matthew Turner throughout the summer with the goal of receiving her certificate of inspection later in 2017. “We look forward to having Matthew Turner out on the water soon to expand the educational programs we currently offer on schooner Seaward and provide greater capacity for students to experience the sea,” said Charles Hart, CEO of Call of the Sea.

 

For information on taking an educational or pleasure cruise on the schooner Seaward or similar ships on the Bay, visit our Waterfront Activities section.

The wood for the construction of the Matthew Turner was sourced from Forest Stewardship Council-certified sustainable forests, and is treated with eco-friendly materials. Photo by Stefan Sargent

Over 400 volunteers have donated their time and passion work on the ship. Photo by John Skoriak