The first tall ship in six years sailed into Marina del Rey on Tuesday to kickoff the , a celebration of the marine lifestyle.
Bill of Rights, the 1856 replica gaff topsail schooner tall ship, is currently docked at the Del Rey Yacht Club before it heads to Fisherman’s Village, where it will remain through Sunday for public viewing and outings.
The ship is typically anchored in Oxnard, where kids, some of whom have never stepped off a dock before, learn the physics of sailing, navigation and how to collaborate.
“They look at themselves and the entire world in a whole different way after they sailed,” said Bill of Rights Capt. Stephen Taylor.
Children, many of them socioeconomically disadvantaged, also learn species dissection, California maritime history and how to build a boat. On Thursday and Friday, the Bill of Rights will take local youth organizations sailing.
“Kids learn skills to be able to cope with the challenges of life they will face in the future,” said Dave Lumian, chairman of the Los Angeles County Small Craft Harbor Commission.
Shelley Starrett, the Bill of Rights’ engineer, takes kids out almost every day and fixes the occasional engine coolant leak. She joined the crew four years ago after a friend told her about the ship, built in South Bristol, Maine by Harvey F. Gamage in 1971.
“It teaches kids that the opportunities are endless, and it’s important for them to know that,” she said.
After two days of youth activities, the general public can tour the Bill of Rights and set out on an evening excursion on Saturday and Sunday on the 137-foot long, 98-ton boat.
In addition to the tall ship, Marina Fest attendants will have the opportunity to demo power boats, sail boats and stand-up paddle boards.
“We have something for everybody this year,” said Dave Geoffrey, executive director of the Southern California Marina Association and Marina Fest organizer. “It’s not just a parking lot full of boats.”
He said that since the Marina Fest’s inception three years ago, the event now includes more activities and caters to all boaters, neophytes and experienced alike.
“I remember sitting at my desk a few years ago and a couple of [tall ships] came out and fired their canons,” said Santos Kreimman, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors. “It made quite the impression on me, and I’m excited we were able to get one back.”
The Marina Fest will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and free for children 12 and under.
Teen sailor Abby Sunderland, the youngest person to attempt to circumnavigate the globe, will also be available to discuss her trip and sign DVD's and books.
For more information, call 714-633-7581 or visit www.marinafest.com.