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We appreciated the Letter to the Editor submitted last week entitled Ocean Institute Leadership, as it creates the opportunity for a welcome conversation.

The letter referred to the Spirit of Dana Point as “in despair” and referenced repairs needed by the end of June 2021. This is incorrect, and we appreciate the opportunity to clarify the misinterpretation of the situation.

The iconic Spirit of Dana Point, an important educational resource for the Ocean Institute, serves as an educational platform for approximately 5,600 students each year. As a wooden vessel, wear and tear and routine maintenance is part of the territory, and Ocean Institute works with an independent inspector and the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure that the vessel is safe and a rigorous plan is in place for repairs, restorations, improvements, and so on.

The Spirit of Dana Point was slated for restoration of the decks in 2022, with a completion date of December 2022. Additionally, the USCG requires that the masts get pulled for inspection every 10 years, and this step will also be addressed in this process, as planned. Our fundraising efforts for this important project were to begin this September.

As insurers have become more conservative post-pandemic, our insurance requested that we accelerate the project and as we pursued quotes and yard space, sent a 30-day notice. This choice by insurance did not change the USCG timeline, and an inspection on June 17, 2021 further confirmed the seaworthiness of the vessel. This was simply an exercise of our insurer’s rights in our policy, and it came at a terrible time.

After exploring other options and possibilities, we turned to our major donors, and having secured enough support to feel confident the project will be a success, we reached out to the public. The response has been phenomenal, and Spirit will get what she needs.

Given that the opinions rested on a misconception related to the Spirit and the Ocean Institute, we hope this clarification helps not only dispel that error, but instills a sense of pride in our community that the Spirit will remain a place for education in our waters for years to come.

Ocean Institute is a community icon and we could not be more appreciative to the community for the ongoing support. While similar organizations in the informal education landscape were lost in the pandemic, we held strong because of you. We finished the year in the black, have a clean audit, and continue to be your home in the harbor for ocean education, and will be for many years to come.

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