Denis Sullivan (schooner)

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The Denis Sullivan under partial sail; her topsails, raffee, and flying jib remain unset
Career (USA) United States
Name: S/V Denis Sullivan
Owner: Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin
Completed: 2000, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Homeport: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Honors and
Flagship of Wisconsin and of the United Nations Environment Programme
Fate: education/sail training/tourist vessel
General characteristics
Tonnage: 97 tons (gross)
Displacement: 150 tons
Length: 137 feet (42 m) overall; 98 feet (30 m) on deck
Beam: 24 feet (7.3 m)
Height: 95 feet (29 m)
Draft: 8.75 feet (2.67 m)
Propulsion: Sail; two 180 HP auxiliary engines
Sail plan: Three-masted schooner, ten sails, 4,597 square feet (427.1 m2) total sail area
Capacity: 31 persons overnight, 60 on day sails (including crew)
Crew: 10

The S/V Denis Sullivan is a replica three-masted, wooden, gaff rigged schooner from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is a flagship of both the state of Wisconsin and of the United Nations Environment Programme[1].


The construction of the Denis Sullivan was first proposed in 1991 by a group of Milwaukee residents and volunteers from other states. Their plan was to build a tall ship which would serve as a platform for educating people about the Great Lakes. Community involvement was welcome in the project, and almost a thousand people[2] donated almost a million volunteer hours[3] toward the Denis Sullivan's construction. Through the efforts of both professional shipwrights and volunteers, the Denis Sullivan was partially completed and launched in June of 2000. She departed Milwaukee for her first sail to the Caribbean in November of 2000. She is the official flagship of the State of Wisconsin.


The Denis Sullivan is not a replica of a specific vessel. Rather, her design is inspired by that of the Great Lakes cargo schooners of the 19th century. Like many of those schooners, she carries a raffee, a square-rigged fore topsail which is triangular in shape.

In designing the Denis Sullivan, architects Timothy Graul Marine Services looked to several nineteenth century Great Lakes schooners for inspiration, including the Rouse Simmons, Clipper City, and Alvin Clark. Above the waterline, the Sullivan closely resembles these earlier vessels. Her shape is that of an efficient cargo carrier, and her rigging and deck arrangement are likewise authentic. She differs from her predecessors, however, below the waterline. Traditionally, Great Lakes cargo schooners were built with a fairly flat bottom to minimize draft and permit sailing in shallow waters. They carried a centerboard to compensate for this when sailing to windward. The Denis Sullivan strayed from this tradition to meet both modern Coast Guard safety requirements and the practical considerations of a passenger vessel. She has a relatively deep hull and weighted keel, which provide greater stability to the vessel and allow for 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) of head clearance in the below decks accommodations. An additional concession to safety regulations was the division of the traditional cargo hold into watertight bulkheads.[4]

See also


fr:Denis Sullivan