Amazing Grace is an 83' topsail schooner. Her home port is in San Diego, California. The ship serves as the platform for the non-profit Maritime Leadership and is also available for private charters and memorials at sea. Maritime Leadership provides traditional sail training adventures through sailings ranging from 3-48 hours.
Like other schooners, Amazing Grace is the traditional American sailing craft. These were the small vessels that fought the British in the War of Independence and again in the War of 1812, both as ships of the U.S. Navy and as privateers.
Her original name was Tuolumne, named after a river in Yosemite National Park. She was designed by Don McQuiston with engineering by Don Patterson, NA. She was built on the Steven's Ranch, a cattle operation east of Del Mar, California by Don McQuiston and his son Donnie. After an enclosed structure was built, construction of the hull was begun. Next came the laying of the deck, installation of skylights, hatches, and interior bulkheads. The last major task was the cabin trunk located aft. From aft forward is the master stateroom, engine room, salon, mid stateroom, and fore stateroom, all finished in varnished mahogany. Power is a Ford marine diesel with a feathering 3-bladed prop. The building took several years as at the same time Don operated the family design and publishing business McQuiston & Daughter, Inc. (mcquistonbooks) producing coffee table books for various publishers on the outdoors, Native American Art, and America's National Parks. Upon completion she was hauled to The Knight & Carver Boatyard on San Diego's Mission Bay and launched on October 25, 1989.
Her nine spars were shaped from old growth Douglas fir shipped from a mill in Washington State. She was originally rigged as a brigantine carrying three yards on the foremast. She has a bowsprit, jib boom and dolphin striker which carry three sails, the mainmast is gaff rigged with mainsail and gaff topsail, between the masts is the main staysail and fisherman. Her rigging, standing and running, about one mile of it was done by the McQuistons and son-in-law Dave Wellens using old fashioned deadeyes and wooden blocks. Seventeen months later she went for her first sail in 20 knot winds off San Diego. In 1994 with a crew of six she sailed north for her new home port of Bellingham, WA where she cruised the San Juan Islands, participated in Tall Ships events, raced with schooners up the British Columbia coast and one trip to Alaska.
In 2005 she was sold to her current owners and renamed Amazing Grace. The New owners decided to classify the ship as a passenger carrying vessel licensed by the US Coast Guard. After many modifications to meet the requirements of the USCG, the vessel received a Certificate of Inspection (COI). This COI allowed the ship to take passengers out for sailing adventures. For a few years after the ship was sold the vessel's home port was in Gig Harbor, Washington. There, her course yard was removed and was rigged as a square topsail schooner. When the teak deck needed replacement due to leakage, the owners decided to temporarily move the ship to San Diego because of its ideal weather conditions. After a few transits back and forth between San Diego and Gig Harbor, the ship was permanently relocated to San Diego where she resides now.
Amazing Grace sets a square topsail on the foremast and seven fore and aft sails: gaff main, gaff topsail, main and fore staysails, fisherman staysail, and flying and inner jibs. These can be used in different combinations to suit the wind conditions. The rigging is complex and logical having evolved over the last two hundred years.
The Ship sets a large 13 star American flag off the peak of the gaff and a 13 star pennant off the top of the main mast. The flags are representative of the rigs time period and history.
Amazing Grace is the primary platform for the non-profit Maritime Leadership. The ship serves as a source of refreshment, leadership development, sail training and inspiration. Maritime Leadership has taken Wounded Warriors, military veterans, foster children, youth groups, juvenile detention volunteers and the Make A Wish Foundation on sailing excursions. Maritime Leadership is dedicated to providing an avenue for refreshment and team building for people who are involved in service leadership and at risk youth.
Amazing Grace participates in many races including the America's Schooner Cup and the Tall Ships Challenge. Although the vessel is a "tall ship", she is unusually fast. Other tall ship sailors envy her for her speed and maneuverability. Amazing Grace races against much more modern schooners and still manages to be a competitor.
America's Schooner Cup Results: 2010- 3rd place in class B, 2012- 2nd place in class B, 2014- 1st place in class B.