July 2014
Published quarterly, The TopSail Sheet is chock-full of news about Los Angeles Maritime Institute, TopSail Youth Program and community happenings!

Letter from the Executive Director
Our summer is in full swing, as are our continued efforts to reinvent ourselves while doubling down on our founder's mission.  A collaborative team made up of LAMI board members, volunteers, staff, and an awesome facilitator has yielded our next iteration of our mission statement.  This refreshed mission statement was identified as a key element of what we coined in our last report to you as LAMI 2.0.  As an organization matures and adjusts to the dynamics of the environment, it is important to step back and evaluate who we are, why we exist, and where we are going.  Our simple two line mission statement does that and is expected to carry us forward for the next year or two.

Garfield High School students chart their course
Garfield High School students learn how
to read a nautical map and chart a course...
at sea and for life!

The Los Angeles Maritime Institute serves to inspire youth to discover their greater potential through extraordinary at-sea experiences.  We envision a thriving community where every child can look to the future with confidence.

Another key element of LAMI 2.0 was to effect a dramatic increase in the number of sails with our target youth.  With the close of the LAUSD and POLA fiscal year two weeks ago, I'm ecstatic to report that we exceeded our performance over the last decade!  During the course of the past ten years, we've done as few as ninety-one youth sails in a year and last year we did 121 sailing days.  However, on June 30th we closed out this year with 156 youth sails.  We know that without the hard work of LAMI volunteers, Youth Crew, standing crew, staff, leadership, board members and our partnership with the Port of Los Angeles, this would never have been possible.  Way to go team LAMI!  As I pen this note to you, we've got our best jump start on a new fiscal year with over eighty youth sails already on the calendar.

Recently, with support from educational consultant Russ Billings, LAMI has taken a lead agency role in an environmental education collaborative called the LA Harbor SEED Project (STEAM, Environmental Education Discovery).  This project builds on the science-based components of our TopSail Youth Program that we have been delivering for more than two decades.  TopSail founder, Jim Gladson, was a science teacher and pioneer of experiential learning, and while LAMI is proudly known as a youth development organization, Jim Gladson's educational approach and science learning methodology is being recognized as a pathway to STEAM careers.  More details will be shared on this in the near future.

Throughout the non-profit, education, and tall ship market space, fundraising continues to be a significant challenge.  Team LAMI has launched a number of new and, we believe, exciting opportunities for the greater community to embrace our work and help fund our transition to full utilization of our excellent teachers (crew) and tall ships.
Become a member at 

First up is our new Membership Drive.  The community has responded by offering our members valuable discounts and options.  The organizer of the Tall Ships Festival LA 2014 is generously providing 500 tickets to the first 500 members to join.  If you haven't joined yet, it is time to do so now.  For those that have already joined, thank you!  (In our next issue, we will acknowledge all our members and supporters in a special way.)

Second up is our first annual Build-A-Boat contest.  We secured our title sponsor for this event and will be issuing a press release very shortly.  This family-friendly event is perfect for the company that wants to support LAMI's award winning Topsail Youth Program, while providing a fantastic team building event for its employees and families.  Each team will have four hours to build a two-person boat with supplies provided by LAMI.  After lunch we will march these boats to the water's edge and perform "sea trials" and races to determine the winning team.  This event will be held within the confines of the Tall Ships Festival 2014 on August 23rd.  After the event you will be free to enjoy the ships, bands, food trucks, battle sails, Ferris wheel, Iowa, Lane Victory... and more!  If you would like to encourage your company to sponsor a team, please call/email me at
310-833-6055, [email protected].

Irving Johnson docked at Monterey.

I would be remiss if I didn't include our June trip to Monterey on Irving Johnson in our update. For the first time in a very long time, LAMI "stretched our legs" and transited up to Monterey, passing around the notorious Point Conception. I can assure you that everyone that made the transit in both directions can attest that it is always better to have a following sea (and wind and current), as the transit back home was a phenomenal sail while the trip up was an interesting experience. The Monterey community opened its city and heart to us.  During our brief stay we had the pleasure of taking 166 middle schoolers through dock side programs and over 500 visitors for public tours.  We are very grateful to the Dan and Lily King Foundation and are hopeful that this was just the beginning to a deeper relationship with that awesome community.

Call to Action:  You are receiving this newsletter because somewhere along the line you expressed interest in LAMI and the impact that we have on the youth we serve.  On behalf of the Board of Directors, our staff, and myself, I want to thank you for your generosity of time, expertise, and treasure.  As we approach the second half of the year, I can think of no better time to join us in our doubling down to move LAMI to the next level, including putting her on a sound financial footing to carry us well into the future.  There are so many ways for you to get involved, and most of them are actually a lot of fun!  In just the next three months we need your help to insure the success of our First Annual Build-A-Boat contest, the first Tall Ships Festival in our home port since 2008, our Annual Youth Awards, and of course sailing and maintaining our gorgeous tall ships, Exy Johnson, Irving Johnson, and, soon to be back in the water, the Swift of Ipswich.

Did you know the Swift of Ipswich was once the personal yacht of actor James Cagney?

Swift of Ipswich

Seventy-six years ago when
Swift of Ipswich's keel first slipped into the water, the regulations for vessel stability and safety were not what they are now, and that is a good thing.  For your team that is painstakingly and lovingly restoring
Swift, the modern regulations have forced us to address almost every element of the vessel.  To insure proper righting moment and eliminate down flooding, we have shifted almost 12,000 pounds of her 36,000 pounds of ballast to her keel.  We will be stripping off her 4" worm shoe and replacing it with 8 inches of lead (that is okay as worms don't eat lead!).  We are keeping our fingers crossed that a local manufacturer will be able to pour the ballast keel for us.

A master craftsman is currently reconstructing new hollow spars that, when combined with served modern synthetic standing rigging, will substantially reduce weight aloft.  We will also have to reduce sail slightly, but we are excited that the topsails will remain on the iconic vessel.  The offset to starboard aft scuttle that provided access to the below decks is a major no-no for modern design.  As painful as it was, the decision was taken to eliminate it from the vessel and replace it with an on center line main hold hatch.  Two of the benefits from this design change were that it allowed us to create a proper engine room and the aft cabin is no longer a hall way to the main hold. 

With each day's progress we get closer to our goal of having a vessel based in Wilmington at Banning's Landing. You are always welcome to come on down and check out our progress.  You can also see an excellent photo record of our progress by clicking on the
Swift image above or navigating to:  http://jgsoto.smugmug.com/Swift-of-Ipswich-

Bruce Heyman
[email protected]

From our Volunteer Coordinator

Yes, No, Baggywrinkle, or How To Do Tall Ship Tours   


Half way through 2014, and it's time to talk about that annual out-of-town foray dubbed, "festival season." The end of August and early September usher in trips to other ports, to display our boats for thousands of visitors, and to reward our crews for a summer of exhausting voyages, with time to enjoy the camaraderie of other tall ship sailors.


2014 is a special year. The regular ports - San Diego and Dana Point - will be augmented by a giant kick-off in our own Port of LA. We'll host vessels from all over between Aug. 20-24, then race against them down to San Diego. Should be a ton of fun.  


Tall Ships Festival LA 2014  

That little word HOST brings me to the intent of this piece. Tall ship events are all about hosting. If you've ever interacted with the public in a position of authority for a lengthy amount of time in a single day, you know the endeavor becomes repetitive. In the case of tall ships, you spend hours in the sun helping guests negotiate ladders, discussing the program, telling kids which is the proper direction to face when standing at the helm, and explaining baggywrinkle (if you don't know what it is, find out. I guarantee you'll be asked).  At the end of the day, though, it isn't how much information about LAMI or the boats that's paramount. It's how welcome you make visitors feel.


My philosophy is to treat each person who crosses the deck as if he/she never before has set foot on a tall ship and never will again after he/she leaves. Even if my vessel is the middle of a three-boat raft, I keep to that mindset because it helps me focus on the guest and his/her experience... even when I'm tired, ready to be done, and have responded to the same query about what kind of wood the masts are (another answer you ought to have prepared) thirty times.


Our world is very out of the "norm." People who come aboard generally are fascinated by it and curious about everything. They want to know what it feels like to sail. They get astonished when they discover we live on board and cook and sleep underway. "Starboard tack brownies" blow their minds. Your "job" when you work a festival is to be the public's conduit into tall ship life.


Whether you've sailed two days or two years, your perspective is their glimpse into what we do, and the smallest insight you can give (even saying there are things you don't know but want to learn) is valuable. Our furls and coils may be hot; our vessels may be the most "Bristol fashion" on this coast, but no one will take away a positive impression of us unless we, as representatives of LAMI (and ourselves), make them feel important.


I invite you to go the extra mile in giving the public that sort of personal consideration. You never know - the person you treat kindly may be a secret millionaire who could fund our programs for years, or someone who might become a volunteer that says the right thing to the right student at the right time and sets him on a path that turns him from gang banger into the research scientist who cures cancer.

Marann Fengler
 [email protected]
Upcoming Events
In celebration of Tall Ships Festival LA 2014, we've put together a very unique event... Tall Ships Discovery educational art exhibit to be held at fINdings Art Center in San Pedro.  Featuring the artwork of world-renown artist Scott Kennedy, local artist Stan Hicks, and photography from several South Bay/LA photographers, this event will include artwork, rigging tools and wood turnings... a rare glimpse at old world craftsmanship at work today.

Join the event on Facebook, share it on your Facebook page, and help us spread the word!  Schools and youth groups can tour the exhibit during the week by appointment.  Call Joleen at 310-422-4146 to arrange or email [email protected].

From Scott Kennedy's "Building of the Brigantines" series to be featured at Tall Ships Discovery.
Meet the artist in person at the Opening Reception on August 7th.

Tall Ship Adventure Youth Camp

There's still room!

A terrific opportunity for young people age 12 - 17 to sail to Catalina Island aboard a square-rigged tall ship. We'll be sailing from San Pedro to several of the Channel Islands aboard one of our 110-foot brigantines.

You'll literally "learn the ropes" of sailing a traditionally-rigged vessel from our professionally-trained crew plus you'll get the opportunity to explore the islands and learn about their unique wildlife and lush marine ecosystem.

Parents and guardians are welcome at the same low price, all meals included.

Five days / Four Nights aboard a tall ship
$500 per person

(Become a LAMI member and receive a 10% discount. Memberships start at $20. Visit GetLAMInated.org)

Includes your own bunk, meals and learning from a professional crew! Limited to 30 participants.

Call the L.A. Maritime Institute office at 310-833-6055 or email [email protected].

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Los Angeles Maritime Institute, Berth 73, Suite 2, San Pedro, CA | 310.833.6055

The Official Tall Ships and Maritime Ambassadors of the City of Los Angeles