Schooner Bill of Rights

History of the Bill of Rights

Constructed in 1971 in South Bristol Maine by Harvey F. Gamage. Commissioned by Captain Joe Davis to be a sailing vessel with the qualities of speed, the grace of sail, lasting strength that can sail into the future.

Clipper-bowed, long and lean in the sheer, she represents an reminder of a time, long gone now, that bequeathed an aura of romance and adventure to today. She stands for a recreation of a splendid era of American shipbuilding and seafaring.

The Bill of Rights was fashioned from the drawings of the schooner Wanderer, an 1856 vessel build to carry cargo from New Orleans to New York. Joe Davis put together a team of the nations top boat builders and designers, including Fred Bates, Harvey Gamage, Jim Mccurdy, Ted Hood, and Philip Rhodes to make sure that the vessel was all that Joe dreamed of.

The vessel carries 6,300 square feet of sail – including the jib, jib topsail, jib staysail, foresail , foretopsail , mainsail and main topsail. A fisherman can be added. She is fastened with rust resistant galvanized iron. Built of double oak frames and her planking is almost twice the strength called for in the plans. The ballast is made of window sash-weights which Davis found in junkyards; these were laid in the bilges and set in concrete so that they can’t shift when she rolls. As a result, she is as stable a boat as anyone could ask for.

After launch, the Bill of Rights years chartering the New England waters. She proudly participated in the 4th of July Tall Ship parade into New York City and raced in Rhode Island. She playfully raced the rival schooner Shenandoah. The crew of the Bill of Rights brought up a canon and fired tennis balls at the other schooner when she came alongside. That day the Shenandoah won the impromptu race.

Ports of call include Camden and Boothbay Harbor, Maine; Gloucester, Marblehead, Boston Vineyard Haven and New Bedford in Massachusetts; Newport, Rhode Island, Mystic Connecticut; New York City; and Annapolis, Maryland. In 1986, the Bill of Rights changed ownership to Vision Quest as a youth training vessel. She was fitted with an engine and extensive below deck modifications to accommodate the engine room.

She has successfully provided an amazing learning environment for character building with wonderful sail training programs from the Los Angeles Harbor to the Channel Islands; first as the star of Vision Quest’s youth program, then as one of LAMI’s TopSail Youth Training ships and most recently, offered by ATSI for adventure cruises and sail training excursions from Channel Islands Harbor to Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands. Over the past decades she has changed the lives of thousands of young students and program participants.

As a sail training vessel, the Bill of Rights has plied the Atlantic Coastal waters, traversed the Panama Canal and sailed the east Pacific Coastal waters to California. Ports of call included Beaufort, NC; Charleston, SC; Panama; Golfito and Bahia de Cocos; Costa Rica; Acapulco; Puerto Vallarta; Cabo San Lucas; and Turtle Bay; Mexico; San Francisco, Ventura, Channel Islands, Catalina, San Diego; Long Beach and San Pedro and she now resides in Chula Vista. Today, the Bill of Rights is berthed at the California Yacht Marina’s excursion dock in the Chula Vista Harbor. Surrounded by a national marine reserve and at home in the southern San Diego bay, the schooner is available for on-the-water educational programs linking education, science and art in an innovative maritime learning platform for all ages. She is available for day cruises and overnight life changing adventures.

We encourage all to Sail the Dream.