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Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times

The Pilgrim, an iconic tall ship and Dana Point symbol, will be demolished and removed from its slip at Ocean Institute.

The Pilgrim, a three-masted schooner that was a full-sized 1945 replica of the merchant ship that Richard Henry Dana detailed in his classic novel Two Years Before the Mast, keeled overnight between Saturday, March 28 and Sunday, March 29 and sank in her slip at Dana Point Harbor.

Crews determined the ‘Pilgrim’ would need to be demolished and removed from her slip. Photo: Lillian Boyd

Since then, all agencies involved have made the decision to pivot the removal of Orange County’s iconic tall ship, the Pilgrim, to demolishing the vessel in its slip.

The removal will be performed piece-by-piece over the next several days with extreme caution, enabling Ocean Institute team members to salvage select items for possible future display, according to Wendy Marshall, president of education and operations for Ocean Institute.

The barge crew began conducting the demolition and removal at noon, Tuesday, April 7.

Crews worked to remove two masts on Tuesday, April 7. Photo: Lillian Boyd

“The Ocean Institute is grateful for everyone’s involvement in this process, from the divers and U.S. Coast Guard to the Crane Barge DB Salta Verde and county agencies,” Marshall said in a statement. “Once fully demolished, the Ocean Institute will assemble a task force to determine how to move forward with thoughts on replicating the experience the Pilgrim provided for nearly 40 years.”

The Pilgrim was a beloved classroom and field trip destination for hundreds of thousands of students for nearly 40 years and played a prominent role each year during the Ocean Institute’s Tall Ships Festival.

Valued at $6 million, the three-masted schooner sunk in its slip last Sunday morning, March 29, in the Dana Point Harbor in approximately 10 feet of water. Efforts were made earlier this week to lift the vessel to no avail.

For those wanting to make a donation to Ocean Institute as they overcome costs associated with the Pilgrim’s demise as well as income shortage from cancelled fundraisers and events, patrons can do so directly at ocean-institute.org.

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