A tall ship that has been berthed on the New England coast for the past 54 years is now on its way to California and will call the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard its new home. The ship will serve as a visitor attraction and teaching platform for thousands of youth in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

The Mystic Whaler, an 83-foot-long, 110-foot-tall, steel-hulled schooner, departed Connecticut in mid-October and sailed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where it was loaded on a ship carrier for transport through the Panama Canal. On Dec. 26, 2021, the ship was offloaded in Ensenada, Mexico. She departed Mexico, sailed up the coast, and arrived in San Diego on December 29, 2021.The Mystic Whaler arrived at the Channel Islands Harbor on January 9, 2022.

(Read more about the Mystic Whaler’s voyage from Connecticut to Florida here)

Yacht brokers Bob Nahm of Seacoast Channel Islands, and Vicki Van Hook of Seacoast Santa Barbara, have been hard at work helping their clients Roger and Sarah Chrisman of Montecito acquire the tall ship. The Chrismans will rename the tall ship the Mystic Cruzar.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to assist the Chrismans in bringing a vessel that will help educate our local youth and residents,” Nahm said. “The Chrismans truly have hearts of gold and are always looking to provide positive experiences for the community.”

Roger and Sarah Chrisman

Once the ship arrives at the Channel Islands Harbor, the Chrismans will set up a program through their non-profit Central Coast Ocean Adventures to allow the public and youth to tour the ship and learn about the history and science of sea trade. The ship will also travel to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and offer tours.

Ventura County Harbor Department Director Michael Tripp said the Mystic Cruzar is a welcome visitor-serving amenity for the Channel Islands Harbor.

“We are honored that the Chrismans chose the Channel Islands Harbor as the home base for the Mystic Cruzar,” Tripp said. “Tall ships are an inspiring platform for learning that will immerse students, residents, and visitors in an ocean-based classroom.”

Santa Barbara Maritime Museum Executive Director Greg Gorga said the Chrismans have been long-time supporters of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s education programs and is excited that they are bringing this new opportunity to Central Coast communities.

“The Chrismans believe that ‘No child should be left ashore’ and their past support has allowed thousands of young students to experience our educational programs that recreate life as an 1830’s sailor or as hands-on marine scientists,” Gorga said. “Bringing this tall ship to our waters will expand the number of students our local organizations can serve, will provide these maritime experiences to an even greater number of youth from all different backgrounds, and I am sure will inspire many of them to become future stewards of our oceans.”

Channel Islands Maritime Museum Executive Director Adri Howe said the Mystic Cruzar will be a great benefit to the maritime education community.

“The Mystic Cruzar will provide a wonderful opportunity for its visitors to voyage back in time to more fully understand our maritime heritage and to get a glimpse into the lives of those sailors who lived and worked on maritime vessels. And just as in all things we learn from the past, we can bring that knowledge and understanding of the past into our lives today,” Howe said. “We are so grateful to the Chrismans for their dedicated and ongoing support of maritime educational programs and the educational vision that they have for the Mystic Cruzar.”

About the Mystic Cruzar

The ship was built in Florida in 1967 and that year began offering one- to five-day sailing cruises out of Mystic, Connecticut along with brunch, lunch, dinner and sunset cruises and environmental education programs. In 2006, the schooner moved to City Pier, Connecticut, where it has operated since and participated in various maritime festivals in the city.

The schooner historically carried 3,000 to 4,000 passengers each year from May to October. In 2018, both Connecticut and Yankee Magazine named it the best coastal cruise in Connecticut.

The ship is a reproduction of a late 19-century coastal cargo schooner with 3,000 square feet of sail and a diesel engine. It features Italian oak floors and fir wainscoting with mahogany accents along with six bathrooms with host showers. It was rebuilt in 1993.

The Mystic Cruzar is Coast Guard certified for 50 passengers plus 10 crew.

Editor’s Note: this story was published on December 29, 2021.