Irving Johnson (ship)
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|Los Angeles Maritime Institute
|Allan Rawl/Brigantine Boatworks
|2002, San Pedro, CA
|Los Angeles, CA
|113 ft (34 m)
|21 ft (6 m)
|87.6 ft (26.7 m)
|11 ft (3 m)
|Sail Area: 5,032 sq ft (467 m2). Two Masts, 13 Sails
|Design by: Henry Gruber/W.I.B. Crealock
The twin brigantines Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson are the flagships of the Los Angeles Maritime Institute's (LAMI) TopSail Youth Program, a non-profit organization created as a character building organization to help at risk youth prepare for life through the discipline and teamwork required to safely handle a tall ship. They join LAMI's topsail schooners the Swift of Ipswich and the Bill of Rights in introducing youths to the subtle but profound influence presented by the sea.
Named for sail training pioneers Irving and Electa "Exy" Johnson, the brigantines take on a proud history initiated by their namesakes. Seven time veteran circumnavigators of the world on board two different boats both named Yankee, each trip with a new crew of boys and girls armed only with a sense of adventure and curiosity. For 25 years beginning in the late 1930s, Irving and Exy did what was thought impossible, and lived a life now legendary.
As the Yankee was home to the Johnsons and their family of fellow shipmates, TopSail was envisioned after that model to become a second home to the many youths who come on board where they can safely dream and discover, learn and grow as they pass through turbulent times at school, in their neighborhoods and in their own lives as teenagers today.
The brigantines are based on original plans designed in the 1930s by Henry Gruber but never built. Noted yacht designer W.I.B. Crealock was brought in to adapt the plans to meet modern Coast Guard regulations and to fit LAMI's own stringent specifications based on their years of trial and experience. Master shipbuilder Allan Rawl was retained to oversee the project and direct the many carpenters, electricians, engineers and riggers hired or volunteering as shipwrights.
With the arrival of a truckload of South American Purpleheart hardwood for the keel in 2000, the Twin Brigantine project was kicked off right in the parking lot adjacent to LAMI in the heart of San Pedro, CA. Over the course of the next two years, the project evolved as a living history project open to the public to view and witness as the hulls were framed out with American White oak and fastened with bronze. Launched on 27 April 2002, they were proclaimed as the "Official Tall Ship Ambassadors of the City of Los Angeles" by Mayor James Hahn and witnessed by Exy Johnson herself before motoring out to a fitting out berth where the interiors were finished and completed as their masts stepped, rigged and sails bent on. They were commissioned on 28 March 2003.
Within her 90-foot (27 m) length on deck and 21-foot (6 m) beam she's divided into three cabins. 12 bunks, a head and enclosed shower are forward. 18 bunks, two additional heads, another shower and a large common area amidships. Also amidships to port are a large refrigerator and freezer and access to the deck through the galley above.
The galley features a six burner propane stove forward, a day fridge to port and spacious counter space with two deep sink wells to starboard, the galley is comfortable to work in with ports all around, providing plenty of light and ample ventilation.
To aft lies the chart house with a large chart table and a wrap around settee that can be used for teaching, eating or even charting. The nav station to port is comfortable and readily accessible from the helm. Radar, GPS, VHF and SSB are all readily accessible. Below lies the master's cabin, an officer's cabin with two bunks, 4 crew bunks aft, a head with enclosed shower and access to the engine room below. An on deck cockpit provides additional teaching space as well as a pleasant location for al fresco dining.
A 3208 V8 Caterpillar diesel engine provides auxiliary power producing 315 brake horsepower (235 kW) at 2600 rpm while a Northern Lights 16 kW electrical generator powers the creature comforts on board. Coupled with a Village Marine 50 gph watermaker, she's fully capable of extended passages off shore.
Two and a half miles of running rigging support a total of 5,032 square feet (467 m2) of canvas on two masts and 13 sails, easily staying in light air and comfortable rail down in a stiff breeze at nine knots. Controlled by 85 lines on deck, there are plenty of opportunities for participants to learn and do.
Irving Johnson was renowned for his innate knowledge of the South Pacific, making him a natural choice in advising the Pacific Fleet the intricacies of various tides, swells, currents, depths and shoals around the treacherous reefs and atolls of the South Seas.
On March 21, 2005, Irving Johnson went aground on a sandbar outside the entrance to Channel Islands Harbor. All crew and passengers were rescued safely, but the vessel was stranded on the beach for several days before being pulled off. The local Coast Guard said no other vessel had ever survived being grounded through so many tide cycles intact. Suffering from serious damage which compromised the forward portion of the vessel and flooded the vessel with seawater, she underwent an extensive reconstruction and was returned to service in early 2006.
- TopSail Youth Program
- SS/V Irving Johnson photo
- The Los Angeles Maritime Institute
- The Los Angeles Maritime Museum
- The American Sail Training Association