May 25 2009

Bill of Rights Finds a Home!

Published by at 3:50 pm under Sailing

As the redevelopment of Channel Islands Harbor, in Oxnard, inches along, we have a new neighbor and hopefully, a long term attraction; Tall Ship, Bill of Rights. She is an absolute beauty. A replica of a 19th century Schooner which was built in Maine in 1971. She is 136 feet long and has nearly 25 feet of beam. Her mainmast stands 115 feet above the deck and has a tonnage of 160 gross.

Bill of Rights had the distinction of being the lead Tall Ship through New York Harbor during the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration. The boats’ current owner, Stephen Taylor, is also her Captain and the founder of the American Tall Ships institute. She is now berthed near the Marina Emporium Landing, 3600 S. Harbor Blvd., next to the Scarlett Belle, a Mississippi River paddle-wheel replica that provides private and public party tours of the harbor. If all goes well, she is here to stay and will provide a variety of “immersion type” student programs during the week and through Island Packers, offers day sails to the public on the weekends.

Thanks to Member, Larry Pruitt, for capturing this grand photo of her out yesterday! Im trying to track down her history… She spent her early years in and around the sailing centers of New England. In 1986, a group called Vision Quest bought her and installed an engine. Her history, online at least, is spotty in the 90′s. It appears she nearly went the way of a lot of neglected wooden boats, down in San Pedro, around 2003. But after a “frantic” refit in 2005 participated in some West Coast Tall Ship events. Alas, she could not find a permanent berth to work from on the West Coast, until this recent offering from our harbor and the Marine Emporium folks who redeveloped their commercial docks last year to accommodate a tall ship.

17 responses so far

17 Responses to “Bill of Rights Finds a Home!”

  1. travison 02 Jun 2009 at 3:25 am

    I have spent three summers working on this boat from 2001-2003 in San Pedro, she got alot of attention and alot of love. congratulations to the new owner. i have pictures somewhere of her firing her canon at cruise ships!

  2. pamela campbellon 08 Aug 2009 at 3:37 am

    I first saw the Bill of Rights at the Newport Boat show in 1971. I was a crew member on the “Royono”, a Herishoff yawl built in 1936- that was also exhibiting at the show. I remember going to a party on the Bill of Rights one night and watching in horror as people stomped out their cigarettes on her deck! Glad to see that she has found a good home at Channel Islands Harbor-ironically so close to my home here in California!

  3. Tammy Purdyon 24 Oct 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Kvaser, Inc. (www.kvaserinc.com) working in conjunction with Victory Coaching held their corporate team building event on the “Bill of Rights” . It was an awesome experience and everyone in our group thoroughly enjoyed it! This created memories of a lifetime for us all. Thank you Stephen, MJ, Nate, Abbey and Gabe.

  4. Ship in a Bottle pt. 1 - Drew Mawon 08 Feb 2010 at 3:38 am

    [...] consisted of two days on the Pacific Ocean, which we launched our full size pirate ship (see Bill of Rights) from Oxnard Harbor in Oxnard, CA. We also shot about 7 days on a sound stage at Azusa Pacific [...]

  5. perazimon 25 Feb 2010 at 10:56 pm

    wow… this brings back so many adventurous memorys .. on this ship ive had the most wonderful, trying..and magical experiences of life. I was on this ship when I was 14.. part of the ocean quest.. for 3 mon. 25 miles off shore .. from flordia to maine.. awsome to see it again… I love the ocan it gave me a greater love of the earth and the creator…

  6. Whitneyon 03 Mar 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I spent the summer of 1984 as an apprentice crew member on board the Bill of Rights. We sailed weeklong cruises out of Newport for around 20 guests. We would sail the Elizabeth Islands, Fisher’s Island, Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and sometimes out as far as Nantucket, depending on the wind and the tides. At the time, it didn’t have an engine, we would use our launch to push the boat if we couldn’t get somewhere under sail. I was 15 at the time and it was a formative experience in my life. I’m glad to see that she has been rescued and resuscitated.

  7. Dick Levineon 12 Aug 2010 at 4:20 am

    I first saw the Bill of Rights” at Channel Islands Harbor several months ago. Starting this June,I began volunteering to help the crew with the maintenance and care of the ship. So far I have accumulated twelve hours, and intend to put in many more,and go on some of the cruises. I call this “the experience of a lifetime.”

  8. Susan Don 19 Aug 2010 at 6:10 pm

    I was lucky enough to be a crew member for her maiden year and the following year 1971 & 1972. I was deck hand and cooks assistant the first year. Cook and deck hand the second year. It was the best time in my life. Joe Davis was the owner/skipper we had a crew of six and we took passengers for weekend or 5 day cruises. We even had a few 7 day cruises. Her first winter was spent in Annapolis Md. Her home base was Newport R.I. She was heavy built by Harvey Gamage in Bristol Maine and an absolute joy to sail in good winds.

  9. Bill Mon 04 Sep 2010 at 3:56 am

    I was doing some house cleaning over the past couple of days and came across some literature on the Bill of Rights so I decided to do an internet search and see what came up. I have very ford memories of the “Bill” having been a passenger on her during the summers of ’74, ’75 and ’76 (Op Sail from Newport to Boston to participate in Tall Ships) I also took a Fall cruise in ’78 (could have been ’77). Nevertheless, my time aboard was absolute wonderful and Joe Davis was delightful. Cuttyhunk, Tarpaulin Cove, Nantucket, Edgartown, Menemsha, Marion, Stonington and many other harbors and coves I no longer remember; they all seemed like an adventure. I particularly remember coming into Nantucket harbor on what seemed to me to be a dramatic entrance. As be made the approach along the breakwater, we were on a reach with the “Bill” heeled over and the pennants flying, it seemed as if Joe had enough speed underway to take the schooner up onto Main Street. But at the right moment he turned the vessel into the wind and came to where he wanted to anchor. Later that evening while we were having a good time at a local watering hole (Brotherhood of Thieves) those in town who saw our entrance were still remarking what a site it was. Another time while entering Edgartown, Joe directed one of the crew who played the bagpipes to go aloft and play as we entered the harbor. At one point I started to undertake building a half hull model of the “Bill” and contacted McCurdy and Rhodes, a navel architectural firm on long island for the plans of the hull. They were most accommodating and gave me a large set of drawings of the hull that I still have. I have many more stories but I should stop for now. I would very much like to get in touch with Joe Davis but don’t know how or where to locate him. I would appreciate any information anyone may have on his whereabouts or contact information. Thanks.

  10. sailtimecion 04 Sep 2010 at 4:15 am

    Bill you are welcome to tell as many stories as you like about Bill of Rights here. Im sure your stories are of interest to more than myself to be sure! I sailed into Nantucket harbor with my grandfather in the late 60′s aboard his magnificent ketch and can only imagine Bill making that kind of entrance – must have been grand and “Joe” must have known the harbor very well.

  11. Jennie Butleron 07 Nov 2010 at 11:28 pm

    The Bill of Rights was built by my grandfather at his shipyard in South Bristol, Maine. I far as I remember attended the launching which was always very exciting. His yard was sold and new owners kept the name. Here’s a brief history:
    http://www.gamageshipyard.com/history.htm

  12. Hal Wilderon 29 May 2011 at 1:37 am

    I was aboard for a group cruise with Ventura Power Squadron. Captain Stephen Taylor allowed me to steer for a few minutes and I became addicted. Life will never be the same again.

  13. Mike T.on 07 Jul 2011 at 1:27 pm

    My wife and I sailed on the Bill of Rights on July 4th 2011. It was a “Great Experience” to sail on a ship that led the Tall Ships into New York harbor 35 years ago. …. Let me give a sincere THANK YOU to one of the friendliest and informative crews I have ever met. I would recommend to ALL to take advantage of this experience. It was also a pleasure to meet a Great American (one of the crew volunteers) who honorably served our country during World War II, Commander Hal Wilder.

  14. Laurieon 27 Aug 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Thank you so much for the sail last week! It was so much more than I had imagined. This is definitely on my “must do” list for visitors. And I intend to bring local friends back for the tall ship sailing experience. Warning…we are scheming to come with kids dressed as pirates! In fact, I’d love to see a “Pirate Sail”, are you game?

  15. matt walkeron 20 Dec 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Bill of Rights is indeed a beautiful schooner and a very welcome addition to the Southern Califonia sailing scene. (one can only look at so much white fiberglass). but please, please, please, PLEASE people. Bill of Rights is a SCHOONER! not a TALL SHIP!

  16. virginiaon 02 Mar 2012 at 8:21 am

    I sailed the Bill with Joe Davis in the 1970′s for several 5 day and long week-end cruises from Newport RI to the ports mentioned above. Once during Americas Cup trials. And I have a story about a very different entry into Nantucket harbour – an unacknowledged running aground. I loved my time aboard at sea! My daughter, Thandi, apprenticed on the Bill the summer of 1980, and caught the wooden boat and sailing bugs. I am very glad indeed that the vessel is being refurbished and is out on the ocean again for sail training and pleasure. She was in very poor shape in San Pedro. I hope to see her again as I live in LA County now.
    For Bill M above: Joseph M Davis Jr; (401) 841-9668; 15 Park St., Newport, RI 02840-2103

  17. John pelfreyon 19 Nov 2012 at 4:09 pm

    I sailedon her for six months in 1995. I miss it soooo bad. Can anyone send me any info at all on her or my last captain, cpt amy bloombergh. Thanks jpelfrey325@gmail.com

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