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Innovative dockside and at-sea programs are offered aboard the Spirit of Dana Point. Our living history programs, beyond teaching history, allow students to become sailors in Revolutionary War America, hide-gatherers of R.H. Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast, and Argonauts traveling to the California Gold Rush to make their fortunes. Programs at-sea include hands-on day-sails aboard the Spirit of Dana Point.

Experience life during the American Revolution by signing aboard our tall ships as a privateer! Through our living history day programs and overnight program, students experience the struggles the American Colonies faced in their fight for Independence from Great Britain. The programs bring the American Revolution to life for students while also teaching them 21st Century Skills.  This includes all the resources you need to prepare the students and adults for your program. Our Revolutionary War Programs Include:Revolutionary War Day Program,( 5 hour dockside program),Pirates, Patriots and Privateers day program(6 hour combination dockside and sailing program), Revolutionary Voyage Overnight; 18 hour dockside program (3 PM-9AM). 


Experience the life of a sailor in the 1830's as documented by Richard Henry Dana in his book Two Years Before the Mast (1840). In our dockside living history programs, sailors learn the difficulties of being a sailor in the 1800s while learning the teamwork and leadership skills they needed to succeed.  Our dockside living history programs based on Richard Henry Dana's experience and California history are: Sailor's Life (3 hour), Round the Horn (5 hour),  and Before the Mast Overnight (3 PM-9 AM).  This includes all the resources you need to prepare the students and adults for the program. 

Gold or Famine? Learn about the different paths people took during the Gold Rush. Join the rush of people going to California going to the gold rush by working your passage to San Francisco.  The Gold Diggers Express Program has the students interact with different characters each trying to convince them of choosing a different path.  The students work their passage and through hands on activities learn about the life of sailor during the Gold Rush. Students decide their "fate", whether or not they choose to be a sailor or a miner.  This program ties to History Standards on the Gold Rush and teaching students 21st century skills. This includes all the resources you need to prepare the students and adults for the program. 

Maritime Leadership Academy utilizes the Spirit of Dana Point to foster team building and leadership skills for high school students. Traditional sailing vessels were successful with a crew that took responsibility and leadership for  their different jobs and tasks. This program fosters those leadership skills through hands on activities utilizing our  dockside maritime facilities and sailing on the Spirit of Dana Point. 

 General Program resources for staff on maritime programs. It includes basic knowledge on both boats such as safety orders, linehandling,cleaning/maintaining a clean galley, how to "not destroy our boats", knot tying and parts of the ship.  It also the maritime costuming manual, sea shanties for our living history programs, and the Maritime History Center training for protocols on Maritime Education Docent. 

Sailor's Life and Round the Horn are living history day programs that give students the opportunity to experience the life of a sailor in the 1830s. Students learn about the hardships of life at sea while learning about the hide trade and California history.   

Gold Diggers Express is a 5 hour living history program focusing on the realities of the gold rush.  The students work their passage to San Francisco where they either choose to sign on board the ship as a sailor or become a miner.  They then receive their "fate" telling them how their life played out as a sailor or miner in 1850.  

The Revolutionary War Day program is a five hour version of the Revolutionary Voyage overnight program.  The students are introduced to the different perspectives of the American Revolution in this living history program.  The students learn history through moving cargo, firing the gun, and the art of navigation.  

Patriots, Pirates and Privateers is a new combination dockside and sailing living history program about the American Revolution.  The students begin the program starting in a colonial town meeting where they decide to prepare to join the patriot cause as privateers. The students dockside learn to move cargo, the process of firing the gun, and how to navigate using a nautical chart.  After lunch, the students take the Patriot cause to sea where they  steer the ship, hold bow watch for the captain, learn how to determine their speed at sea, and participate in battle drills.    

The Revenue Cutter is a 3.5 hour living history sail. Set  in the 1790s, the students learn about the post revolutionary war period through navigation, gunnery, and bow/helm watch. 

This is staff resources for our new Maritime Leadership Academy program! The Maritime Leadership Academy uses traditional sailing skills to help youth develop life-long leadership skills.  The students will learn the mechanics behind sailing through the "rigging challenge" and other hands on activities, put their communication, leadership and team work skills to practice as they row in Dana Point Harbor and take the Spirit of Dana Point  out to sea.  

Before the Mast is a dockside living history overnight based off Richard Henry Dana Jr.'s book Two Years Before the Mast (1840).  Dana's book documents the realities of sailors at sea in the 1830s and describes California's people and trade. Richard Henry Dana Jr. was a law student that took a break from school due to his eyesight and signed aboard as a green hand on the Pilgrim under Captain Thompson in 1834.   The students sign aboard the Pilgrim as green hands for a two year voyage around Cape Horn to Alta California to collect hides.  This program not only teaches students about history but teamwork, critical thinking and leadership skills in this 18 hour program.  This overnight program is taught on both of our tallships the Pilgrim and Spirit of Dana Point.


Revolutionary Voyage is a living history overnight for 5th grade students teaching them about the American Revolution.  The students join the Patriot cause in 1777 as Privateers delivering supplies to General Washington's army at Valley Forge.  Each crew learns skills that will help them in their fight against the British.   During the program, it is revealed that the 2nd Mate is a loyalist spy leaking information to the British.  The different characters in the Revolutionary Voyage program all represent a different perspective that was present during the American Revolution.


These are programs that are customized to fit the needs of specific schools.  Each section has the information for that specific program. It includes Passage to the Mother lode Overnight, Maritime Adventure Program and our yearly Santa Barbara Programs.