A local nonprofit has started construction of one of the largest vessels —a sustainable wooden tall ship based on the famous ‘Galilee’ whose remains still lay in the bay at the end of Napa Street — to be built at the Marinship since World War II.

A huge white tent at the Marinship usually means it is time for the Sausalito Art Festival, but the tent put up last week will be the home for Educational Tall Ship of San Francisco, as a team of boat builders and volunteers are starting to build a boat to be docked at the Bay Model in Sausalito.

Two years ago, Mill Valley resident Alan Olson, founder of the Call of the Sea organization, created a nonprofit to raise funds, design and build a new boat to expand the educational program run on of the Call of the Sea’s 82-foot Schooner Seaward.

“We’re building this boat to be used for educational purposes,” Olson said.

The 132-foot boat will be based on the shapes and design of the Galilee built in 1891 by Benicia boat builder Matthew Turner, though it will not be an exact replica due to current U.S. Coast Guard regulations, Olson said.

The large slabs of Douglas fir stacked near the popup boat yard come from The Conservation Fund’s 50,000 acres in Mendocino County, Olson said. The fund selectively cut and donated several trees for the project.

“All the wood comes from local forests,” Olson said, “When thinking about using sustainable materials, these trees we cut will have replaced themselves in 80 years and we think the life of this boat will be over 80 years.”

During construction, the Educational Tall Ship invites visitors to learn how wooden ships are constructed. If all goes as planned by Labor Day, visitors of the Sausalito Arts Festival will be able get glimpses of the boat taking shape under the tent.

Once launched, the vessel will act as a living laboratory for students to learn to sail a tall ship while providing a historic wooden tall ship for San Francisco Bay Area mariners and residents to enjoy.

Olson originally looked into building sites around the Bay Area including Richmond and San Francisco, but Sausalito was a natural choice because of the area’s rich maritime history. The new vessel will also be based in Sausalito.

“I’ve been in Sausalito for many years,” Olson said. “We operate our other boat out of Sausalito and we will operate out of here when we finish. It also has a good force of labor and talent.”

Making the boatbuilding process accessible to the community is important to the nonprofit. While three full time people are currently working in the yard, anywhere from three to six volunteers also help out every day.

Other tall ships operate around the country, but none are based out of the San Francisco Bay, Olson said. Visiting ships like the Hawaiian Chieftain and Lady Washington make stops in the Bay Area but cannot do the ocean programs Call of the Sea offers.

“It will be a little while before the ship will be recognizable to most people,” said Marc Bauer, who helped design the new vessel at Tri-Coastal Marine in Richmond, Calif. “When you are dealing with a ship the parts are big are, so big they just look like giant chucks of wood.”

Bauer is now overseeing the building process as construction superintendent on the project.

“It’s going to be a cool boat,” Bauer said. “One of the really cool things about a square rigged ship is you can go aloft and handle sails.”

That next big job after completion of the site preparation is sorting though the large pieces of wood piled in the parking lot and looking at each slab.

“We’re going through timber to see how much we’ve lost and start earmarking and picking out the stem timbers the horn timbers and all the stuff that I need right away and put them aside,” Bauer said.

For more information visit educationaltallship.org. People interested in supporting the project are urged to contact Kimberly Kouri, at 608-2984.

Contact Soren Hemmila at shemmila@marinscope.com.

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