It was an historic moment that was over five years in the making: brigantine Matthew Turner left the dock for the first time and motored under its own power. Under the full moon on the night of Friday, May 17th, a team of Matthew Turner volunteers and professional crew successfully piloted the vessel from the Bay Model Pier to Bayside Boatworks in Sausalito for the ship’s first haul out.
Matthew Turner’s captain, Stephen Taylor, described operating the ship’s eco-hybrid propulsion system as, “one of the most exhilarating experiences that went against all of my instinctual reactions.” The ship’s eco-hybrid propulsion system operates like an all-electric drivetrain car that has a small combustible engine to recharge its batteries.
When the captain gave the ok to turn on the propulsion system that night and pull away from the dock, he experienced a truly unique moment in his career. “For the first five minutes the diesel generators fired up to charge the ship’s batteries then shut off after they were charged. There was complete silence with no engine noise.” With the ship’s electrical motors charged and ready to go, captain Taylor then activated the throttle and said, “the electrical motor was silent, yet so powerful and nothing like I have ever operated before…truly exhilarating!”
Captain Taylor is excited that, “the clean eco-hybrid propulsion design will inspire thousands of future environmental stewards who sail aboard Matthew Turner.”
The journey from the Bay Model Pier to the haul out location had its challenges. Matthew Turner is a twin-screw boat design which means there is a motor located on both the port and starboard sides. This design gives the tall ship greater maneuverability as the propellers can spin in different directions and at varying speeds. On that night, a battery needed to be repaired on the port side engine. Only the starboard motor was operational. Captain Taylor explains that “operating on one motor has its challenges as the ship is being propelled at a slight angle because the power is coming from one side of the boat. When both motors are working [port and starboard] they balance the boat in unison. You can then use each motor to help steer the ship or move in a straight line.” Fortunately, the vessel got off the dock and “motored flawlessly to the destination, albeit at a slight angle,” said the captain.
The event was not announced to the public in order to minimize crowd interference with the operation.
Although the journey to the dry dock took place around midnight and with no public notice, Matthew Turner was not without fanfare. Captain Taylor explains that he could not believe how many camera flashes he saw along the journey. “Everywhere I looked there were camera flashes following the vessel on both the land and on the water.”
Timing the tide was a major factor for the late-night departure, too. With the vessel weighing over 170 tons and having a length of 136-feet the tide had to be at its peak to get the tall ship onto the dry dock’s railway cart, which lifts the ship out of the water. “There is only one way to fit onto the railway cart and it had to be timed perfectly with the tide,” said captain Taylor, “the entire operation was executed perfectly by our team.”
The reasons for the haul out are to primarily inspect the ship for U.S. Coast Guard passenger certification, examine the bottom of the vessel (which has been in the water for two years), and apply new eco-friendly paint to the hull. Captain Taylor explains, “typically the hull of a new wooden vessel swells up after being in the water for the first time and new caulking needs to be applied among other minor repairs.”
Dry dock repairs are on track. “We’re excited that the Matthew Turner will be finished with dry dock soon and back at the Bay Model Pier for public display at Call of the Sea’s gala,” said captain Taylor, “I’m looking forward to providing boat tours for our supporters.”
The tall ship gala celebration takes place on Saturday, June 8th at the Bay Model Visitor Center and Pier. Please join us join us for the momentous occasion.
Special thanks to the thousand-plus supporters and hundreds of volunteers who have made this moment possible
By Matthew Grigorieff, director of advancement at Call of the Sea