Pilgrim (brig)

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The Pilgrim was a sailing brig (180 tons, 86.5 feet long) engaged in the California hide trade of the early 19th century. Although just one among many other ships engaged in the business, the Pilgrim was immortalized by one of her sailors, Richard Henry Dana, Jr., who wrote the classic account Two Years Before the Mast about its 1834 voyage between Boston and California.

The Pilgrim was built in 1825 for Boston owners Bryant, Sturgis & Co., and went down in a fire at sea in 1856.


A replica of the vessel is currently based in Dana Point, California, the site of some of Dana's adventures. This replica began as a 3-masted schooner (also called a "tern" schooner in North America) built in 1945 for the Baltic trade in Denmark. In 1975, Pilgrim was converted to her present rig, a brig, in Lisbon, Portugal. She is currently used as a floating classroom for school children and sets sail every summer on a tour of Southern California with a volunteer crew.[1] The ship was used in Amistad, a film directed by Steven Spielberg. Pilgrim also played the notorious "Ghost Galleon" in Power Rangers: Turbo.


As described by Dana, in addition to six to eight common sailors, the ship's complement included three officers: the Captain, the First Mate and the Second Mate. The second mate commanded the starboard watch but while technically an officer was socially isolated, being neither truly an officer or a crewman. This was probably due to the size of the ship; on larger vessels with more crew, the Second Mate was clearly an officer, but on the Pilgrim, the Captain and First Mate ate together and the Second Mate had to make do with their leftovers. Besides the captain, there were four specialist crewmembers who were not part of any watch: the steward, cook, carpenter and sailmaker.

See also