Age of Sail




The year is 1906, and the students, or “lads,” are immersed in an eighteen hour journey through the past. As “green” hands your students must learn to step lively under the watchful eyes of ship’s officers. Crews learn to work with rigging, row a longboat, stand night watch, keep bell time and much, much more. At the end of the day they’ll sleep well in the ship’s fo’c’s’le just like original crew!

Age of Sail Alums: Join the Community here!





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.

Group Size and Cost:(Maximum 35 Students) 

$2, 500 flat fee – up to 27 students/7 adults. Add $95 per student for 28 – 35 students.

*Please advise if 1-on-1 aides will be attending.


Large Group Size and Cost:(Maximum 40 Students)

$3, 500 flat fee – up to 35 students/8 adults. Add $100 per student for 36 – 40 students.

No additional adults permitted, except for a 1-on-1 aide.


Spanish Forms  Student Forms Adult Forms

Teacher’s Manual  Transportation Tall Sailor Workshop

Role of 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 teacher and adult chaperones aboard, who must be silent and self-effacing, and do not have an active participating role. This can be one of the most difficult roles on board: Tall Sailors are there for safety only. This is challenging because teachers and parents are used to having an active role and stepping in to help 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 understand and agree to their role on board and act in this capacity.

To level the playing field of expectations of adults and children, terminology is somewhat changed during their program.  All the students are known as lads, and all the adults are Tall Sailors.  Within this group of Tall Sailors, the teacher is known as the Guest of the Captain and observes the lads as they work through the challenges. Like any of 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. The Guest of the Captain will circulate through all the crews and enjoy watching the students grow to meet the challenges of being a sailor.  Additionally the Guest will be administering medications that the students need.

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

The other Tall Sailors are each assigned to a crew and will stay with them for the duration of the program; our procedure requires that parents are assigned to a different crew than their own child.

Additional Training

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.

Crew Packet Overview

Boat Crew  Bosun Crew

Deckhand Crew  Quartermaster Crew

Rigger Crew  Stevedore Crew


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 being an officer and often making mistakes, but finds a way to work through them.  For larger crews (36 students and above) an additional officer, the Chief Bosun, 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 information, as well as 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 crews overview 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 (Tall Sailor) workshops.

See the Calendar below for available dates.

The Calendar fills quickly! Call Now to make a reservation.

For more information or to make reservations, please contact Program Manager, Catelyn Kindred.

Phone:(415) 360-4772


This document summarizes how the Age of Sail program offered by the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association address CA content-area standards.


CA Ed Standards