Thursday, September 17, 2009

Remembering A Good Time!

Last weekend Dana Point's Marine Institute played host to the Tall Ships Festival and I was there! There was no way I was going to miss that shindig. It only took an hour to reach the harbor on an overcast Sunday morning, but I had high hopes that the sky would clear and bring a glorious blue to replace the morning gray.

As I drove down, I couldn't help but remember my only other visit to the Marine Institute roughly fifteen years ago. I was teaching fifth grade at the time (yes, I teach school when I'm not working as a photographer) and my students were just about bursting with excitement. They were headed to Dana Point Harbor and the brig 'Pilgrim' where they would be spending the night. They would exit the bus and enter the year 1834 as lowly sailors swabbing the decks, polishing brass, hauling water, and cooking (yes, cooking!).
I had read them the book Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana recounting his journey on the Pilgrim. Dana had an attack of the measles which affected his vision. Thinking it might help his sight, Dana left Harvard to enlist as a common sailor on a voyage around Cape Horn. He kept a diary throughout the voyage, and, after returning, he wrote Two Years Before the Mast.

His ship was on a voyage to trade goods from the east for cow hides. Interestingly, the bluffs near Mission San Juan Capistrano presented an obstacle to taking the cow hides to the beach for subsequent loading onto the ship. So, Dana, along with others of the Pilgrim's crew, tossed the hides from the bluffs. Some hides got stuck part way down the cliff and Dana was lowered with ropes to retrieve them. Since that day, that point where the bluffs were located, took on Dana's name, and is today the city of Dana Point.

So here I was again, but for a much different reason - tall ships! It was not hard to imagine life in the mid-1800's looking at the sheer cliffs that enclose the harbor. Today houses sit precariously at the top and the sea wall makes the harbor calm and appealing to visitors in the 21st Century. The visiting tall ships rocked in happy tandem all except the Pilgrim sitting in her place of honor as she welcomed young and old alike to explore a little bit of history.

And explore is exactly what I intended to do. There were the tall ships, of course, but there were also pirates, and exotic birds, and the Ocean Institute, and the ocean, and the art festival, and cute dogs, well, you get the idea. There was a lot to do too much to write about in one blog entry. So in my next few entries, I'll write more about my adventures at the Tall Ships Festival. You can enjoy all my photos from my day at Dana Point Harbor in the gallery on my website, Until next time. . .

Go out and make it a day to enjoy a little bit of history.

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