Matthew Turner is a historic and sustainable wooden tall ship that provides unique educational experiences to more than 12,000 youth each year. Programs conducted on board the ship focus on marine ecology, sustainability, teamwork, leadership and the rich maritime history of the Bay Area.

Building A Tall Ship: Sustainable Wood At Work

In order to construct a 19th century-inspired tall ship, you need wood. That’s where the Fund comes in: through our North Coast Forest Conservation Initiative, we donated 73 Douglas Fir logs — more than half a mile of lumber — to the Call of the Sea project. The lumber was harvested from our sustainably-managed Big River Forest in Mendocino County, California.  

We donated the wood in 2012, and during the 18 to 24 months from when the keel is laid, the vessel will be built with help from Sausalito and Bay Area shipwrights, carpenters, marine technicians, volunteers and students. During the building process, the construction site will be open to students and the general public.

The ship is the most sustainable working tall ship ever built and the largest sailing vessel in the United States to operate under regenerative power.  All construction methods, materials and equipment for the vessel are sustainable, eco-friendly and in certain cases recycled.  This Forest Stewardship Council certified lumber is the principle wood used in the ship’s construction and make up more than 50% of the vessel’s structure. 

The vessel is also be the first wooden ship of its size built in the San Francisco Bay Area in nearly 100 years. Modeled after the prolific shipbuilder Matthew Turner’s brigantine Galilee, the ship was fittingly built in Sausalito, California, an area known for its long maritime tradition and rich shipbuilding history.  

The Partnership

The Fund’s California program director Chris Kelly explained how this partnership came about: “As a sailor myself, I loved the idea of getting kids involved and excited about San Francisco Bay’s natural beauty and rich history through a hands-on effort to build and sail a traditional sailing ship. I called ETS’ Executive Director Alan Olson to learn more and found out that he wanted to use locally sourced, sustainably harvested Douglas fir timber for the construction.”

“All of our forests are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and we had logs available from our Big River Forest, about two hours north of the Bay. It was a perfect fit and we delivered the logs in the Fall of 2012. We are looking forward to seeing the tall ship ply the Bay waters soon!”


The Launch - April 1, 2017

Chris Kelly, The Conservation Fund’s California program director,  interviews Alan Olson, executive director of Call of the Sea, on the day of the launch of Matthew Turner. Check out Chris's blog post about the event and the Fund's role in the project in the links below.

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