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Information for Teachers

Teachers Manual Adobe Acrobat/Reader icon Download [PDF]

Forms Adobe Acrobat/Reader icon Download [PDF]

(Forms in Spanish) Adobe Acrobat/Reader icon Download [PDF]

Transportation information Adobe Acrobat/Reader icon Download [PDF]

Reading List Adobe Acrobat/Reader icon
Download  [PDF]

Lesson Plans

Pre-Voyage Lesson #1 - ChanteysAdobe Acrobat/Reader iconDownload [PDF]
Pre-Voyage Lesson #2 - VocabularyAdobe Acrobat/Reader iconDownload [PDF]
Pre-Voyage Lesson #2(a) - VocabularyAdobe Acrobat/Reader iconDownload [PDF]
Pre-Voyage Lesson #3 - Bell TimeAdobe Acrobat/Reader iconDownload [PDF]
Pre-Voyage Lesson #4 - Knot TyingAdobe Acrobat/Reader iconDownload [PDF]
Pre-Voyage Lesson #5 - Role PlayingAdobe Acrobat/Reader iconDownload [PDF]

Crew Packets
Pre-Voyage Lesson #6 - Crew PacketsAdobe Acrobat/Reader iconDownload [PDF]
Pre-Voyage Lesson #6 (alt) - Crew PacketsAdobe Acrobat/Reader iconDownload [PDF]
Boat Crew Packet Adobe Acrobat/Reader iconDownload [PDF]
Bosun Crew PacketAdobe Acrobat/Reader iconDownload [PDF]
Deckhand Crew PacketAdobe Acrobat/Reader iconDownload [PDF]
Quartermaster Crew Packet Adobe Acrobat/Reader iconDownload [PDF]
Rigger Crew Packet Adobe Acrobat/Reader iconDownload [PDF]
Stevedore CrewAdobe Acrobat/Reader iconDownload [PDF]

Selected Sea Chanteys with Lyrics

An Introduction to The Age of Sail

Our programs are explorations into the lives and ways of the 1906 sailor by means of experiential education. Throughout the entire experience, emphasis is placed on building self-esteem, a sense of responsibility, respect and cooperative learning skills. These skills are not just useful on the vessel or in the classroom, but will be useful throughout ones entire life.


Through our Education Programs, we bring maritime history to life and support the goals set out in the California Department of Educations Content Standards for History-Social Science.
The Age of Sail program was developed to engage the students through a challenging and memorable encounter with history, using both the tools of experiential education, and the artifacts of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. By living the life of a sailor, aboard one of the last surviving examples of the working ships of California, the students gain not only a better understanding of local and state history, but also the concept of historical empathy; a skill critical to a meaningful understanding and evaluation of the past.  

As with any working vessel, the “sailors” need to perform as a disciplined and reliable crew.  In immediate and tangible ways, the students learn the value of critical thinking, active listening, problem solving, teamwork, self-respect, self-reliance and leadership.

Program Setting

The Age of Sail program takes place aboard the Balclutha, a 300 ft Square-Rigged Tall Ship that is a National Historic Landmark Vessel. Balclutha was built in 1886 for the California grain trade.  The ship no longer sails and is permanently berthed on the Hyde Street Pier in the San Francisco Maritime Nat’l Historical Park. Check-in happens at the Age of Sail office, located in the Sea Fox tugboat display on Hyde Street Pier located just before the Ticket Booth. 

Historical Setting of the Age of Sail

Our program is set in the year 1906 just after the devastating earthquake and fire while San Francisco lies in smoldering ruins. Much of the population is sheltered in tent cities and doubts are being expressed about the city’s survival. Our regular crew that have families here have jumped ship to fight fires and help in the rescue operations and the Captain, our Lead Instructor,  needs a new crew to sail to Oregon for lumber. The students or "lads," arrive at Hyde Street Pier to sign aboard as the replacement crew. 

Our Captain will not sail with inexperienced greenhands. Therefore, the lads must prove, through the completion of tasks, that they are capable of sailing the ship. Activities such as reeving a block and tackle, rigging a Bosun's chair, setting hawsers, rowing a longboat, cooking on a wood-burning stove, raising sail and other tasks, are vital to the safe and efficient running of the ship and officers work with the “lads” to transform them into tarry-handed “salts”.


The program is run by four professional experiential educators. These staff members are specifically chosen for their skill and experience in using outdoor, hands-on environments to inspire student learning. Their role is to prompt, guide and encourage the students through each of the challenges they must undertake. We stress the need for the students to rely on their own resources and to solve difficulties through teamwork and dialogue. Operating under the guidance of the classroom teacher, the staff set age-appropriate levels of difficulty while maintaining a close observation on the general emotional and physical well-being of the crew.

Each of the instructors plays a specific role based on both the historical setting, and on the needs of the lads. The Captain is the central authority figure, strong and commanding, but not without a sense of humor. The Doctor, friendly and compassionate, he or she provides the comic relief as well as a comforting smile. The First Mate is a disciplinarian, stern but fair. The Second Mate is "in the same boat" as the lads; new to the vessel and often making mistakes, but finds a way to work through them.  For larger crews (36 students and above) an additional officer, the Bo’sun, is assigned.


Apart from some minimum necessary preparation outlined in the manual, the amount of training depends on how much the classroom teacher wishes to integrate the program into lesson plans for the year. There are many ways in which the teacher can introduce lessons on any subject from math and reading to science and geography (in addition to history) as the “training” that students must undertake in order to have a successful voyage. The manual has the necessary, and many additional activities that can be used for training. 

Our staff is so capable and flexible that they can make a program successful even if the students have only received the minimal training outlined in the All Crews Training Packet. The most important thing is that students (AND PARENTS) have an idea of what is going to happen, that is, that they will be participating in an OUTDOOR, history based experiential learning program that will be unlike anything else they have ever experienced.  

Should you require more support there are additional resources available to teachers in the form of in-school visits and teacher/parent workshops.  

Role of the Participants

The instructors run the program and take responsibility for teaching and guiding the lads. They share the work of looking out for the lads safety with the Tall Sailors.

The Tall Sailors are the adult chaperones aboard, silent and self-effacing. The Tall Sailors have one of the most difficult roles on board: they are there for safety only. This is challenging because parents are used to stepping in to help and guide their children in unfamiliar or difficult situations.  To stand back and watch the children struggle through a problem is difficult, but necessary.  One of our goals is to increase the problem-solving skills of the children and if a Tall Sailor steps in, the opportunity to learn is lost. It is VITAL that PRIOR TO THE BEGINNING OF THE PROGRAM all Tall Sailors are aware that they will not be able to interact with the lads except during an emergency. This can be a very difficult concept for parents to grasp and can be very unsettling for them if they learn it only upon their arrival on the Pier.  Please make sure your Tall Sailors read their Information for Tall Sailors packet, understand their role onboard and agree to act in this capacity.   
The teacher is known as the Guest of the Captain and observes the lads as they work through the challenges. Like the Tall Sailors, he or she doesn’t interact with the lads once the program begins, but offers behind-the-scenes guidance to the instructors. As the guest, we ask that you circulate through all the crews and enjoy watching your students grow to meet the challenges of being a sailor.  Additionally the guest will be assisting us in managing and actually administering medications that the students need.

The Historian is the photographer/videographer for the event, and  unobtrusively records the lads progress.

Additional Preparation 

If you or any of the parents are interested in more training we offer one day Parent/Teacher Workshops on the first Saturday of every month, from September to May. These provide an excellent opportunity to visit our site, meet some of the staff and actually participate in program tasks usually reserved for the lads. This is also a great chance for us to answer any questions you may have. Additionally, we can arrange for a costumed staff member to visit your classroom to help prepare your class for their voyage. We strongly recommend this for any teacher new to our program. A small sea chest full of practicing materials can also be rented at your request. 

Teacher’s Manual

Once we get your contract in we will send you a link to the Teacher’s Manual. The manual contains all of the information that you will need to prepare your students for our program. The manual describes the program logistics, specific packing instruction, students and chaperone preparation and loads of helpful hints to make the process easier.

Program Timeline

1345-1400 Assemble students in crew lines, with personal gear in hand, on the left side of the pier in front of the Sea Fox office. Please do not pass the Ticket Booth. Crew is met by there by a senior staff member. Teacher brought to Sea Fox to check in.
1400 2nd Mate  meets crew, head call. Tall Sailors meet by the Sea Fox and wait to be taken aboard by a senior staff member.
1515 Crew meets the First mate.
1540 Captain greets crew, introduces officers, sets goals, tasks begin.

Coffee ceremony.

1900 Dinner.
2115 Dog watch begins.
2200 Night watch begins, crews not on watch bunk down.
0400 Galley crew starts breakfast.
0530 Crew rises.
0600  Breakfast.
0730 Teacher hoist.
0800 Morning dogwatch.
0830 Leave Her, Johnny.
0900 Crew leaves pier, closing gate behind them.


For education program reservations and questions, please contact us at:
(415) 292-6664 or contact us via email.

SFMNPA Main Number: (415) 561-6662


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Version 2.02, 30 July, 2017