Spirit of South Carolina, a 140-foot-long, two-masted topsail schooner designed to take groups of novices to sea on sailing adventures, has arrived at Mystic Seaport ‘The Museum of America and the Sea’ in Connecticut, and will be spending the summer in New England waters. Spirit is a pilot schooner reminiscent of the famed schooner America, a vessel that made our nation world-famous as a maritime power in 1851 by winning the British trophy that would become known as the America’s Cup.
This is the first active summer for the schooner in several years. Two Charleston businessmen, Tommy Baker and Michael Bennett, bought Spirit at auction in 2014 and funded a top-to-bottom overhaul. Baker and Bennett have returned the vessel to its original nonprofit status and will operate the vessel as an expeditionary education project.
Spirit is inspected and certified by the U.S. Coast Guard, and recently passed a thorough review of all the new construction. “The ship was inspected and found in excellent shape,” said lead Coast Guard inspector John Doughten.“The crew performed well and displayed a high level of competency during all drills.” The crew is led by the award-winning Captain Richard Bailey, who was the founding captain of Rhode Island’s as-yet-unfinished Tall Ship Oliver Hazard Perry.
Among other ships Captain Bailey has commanded the schooners Spirit of Massachusetts, Westward, and Harvey Gamage; the three-masted barkentine Gazela Primeiro, and the full-rigged ship “HMS” Rose, with which he made the Russel Crowe film Master and Commander. Captain Bailey’s efforts have been recognized by the American Sail Training Association (dba Tall Ships America) for “Sail training Program of the Year,” “Sail Trainer of the Year” and “Sail Training Ship of the Year.”
From Mystic, Spirit sails for a berth in downtown Boston, where it will launch educational adventure sails for young people and, later in the summer, adults. Anyone interested in sailing or partnering with Spirit may contact Ashley Bridges at email@example.com or 843-696-0406.
A schedule of summer programs is posted at: Get Camp Schedule