“It is a step back in time and it kind of opens your mind to the history of sailing,” said Janis Denton, who operates Amazing Grace along with her husband, Steve, and son, Peter. “Being in such a natural environment with just the wind and the sails powering you along — it’s really a beautiful experience.”
Amazing Grace resembles schooners used against the British in the War of Independence and the War of 1812. But the ship itself is only 20 years old, affording modern conveniences such as an engine and navigation that make it easier to get around smaller areas like Mariner’s Cove.
“Even being so big, we’re still very agile – we can turn and maneuver and sail quickly,” Janis Denton said. “A lot of the tall ships are just a bit slower and don’t have the same capabilities that we do for maneuvering tight spots.”
The 83-foot schooner came to Mission Beach by way of Gig Harbor, Wash., where its popularity extended to appearances on the local phone book for the last two years. After sailing down to San Diego last winter to perform maintenance on the ship, the family-run outfit decided to come back to the area to stay. Their first voyages were held March 19 through April 19.
“We might end up going back, but we really want it to work here,” Denton said. “We think the season is longer and will have more people, and it will be a better opportunity to really use the boat.”
Denton said the atmosphere on Amazing Grace is relaxing and adventurous. Voyages on the ship are unique in that they offer hands-on experience and a different view of the coastline.
“It’s very pretty – you’re seeing the backside of the waves and you can hear them thundering into the beach and watching the surfers from behind,” Denton said. “It’s not the view that everybody always gets.”
Amazing Grace is also equipped with cannons that will protect the community in the event of an incoming armada. Actually, the cannons are more designed to entertain an armada of beachgoers.
“We will blow off cannons occasionally at Crystal Pier or sometimes for folks who are egging us on on shore,” Denton said. “It’s just a big bang. They’re signal guns, but they make some smoke and a little flash.”
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, Amazing Grace will make daily afternoon sails from 1:30 to 4 p.m. and sunset sails from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in June and July, and 5 to 7:30 p.m. in August and September. The tall ship can also be chartered for corporate or private events of up to 25 people. The ship typically sails from Quivira Basin out into the ocean, but can make trips as far as Ocean Beach, La Jolla and the San Diego Bay.
“When you have a boat like this,” Denton said, “you really want to share it and get lots of people out on it rather than have it sit at a dock.”
For prices and more information, visit www.amazinggracetallship.com.