Review: Family Sail on Discovery World’s tall ship

This season’s final family sail aboard the Discovery World’s tall ship, the S/V Denis Sullivan, will embark this Saturday, October 7th at 2:00 p.m. behind Discovery World, and the experience is a truly memorable one.

To purchase tickets, visit the Discovery World / Denis Sullivan website.

The S/V Denis Sullivan is a re-creation of a three-masted, Great Lakes schooner from the 1800’s and it’s the only one in the world of it’s kind. During the warm months it travels around the Great Lakes and Canada hosting groups of all ages to educate them about maritime history and the ecological health of the Great Lakes.

During the two hour Family Sail, families can take part in raising the sails, chat with the crew about the ship and their jobs, enjoy stunning views of Milwaukee, and enjoy a complimentary snack and beverage. (On our trip last weekend, we enjoyed donuts and juice.) Kids are also invited to dress up as their favorite pirate or superhero.

My six year old son and I helped the crew hoist up the sails onto the 95 foot tall mast. We practiced techniques for laying rope and tying knots. We learned about maritime culture, its clever commands shouted for all to follow, and the irreverent fun and freedom of being a sailor. (At the end of our voyage, a crew member swung from the ship to the dock, on a rope, over at least ten feet of water. Completely unannounced.)

We took in the warm, earthy colors and textures of the 19th century as we explored the vessel. My son was especially thrilled to peek down into the living quarters, where the ship can sleep up to 21 people.

From the moment we stepped on board until the moment we docked back at Discovery World, the crew was friendly and welcoming. They have a few important rules, and they make them easy to understand and to follow.

The ship is clearly run by a group of people who are passionate about what they do and eager to share the details. One crew member even pulled out a violin and played a few songs for us on the deck of the ship. It was truly a step back in time.

Families are free and encouraged to roam around the ship during the sail. You can walk to each end to see the enormous steering wheel, the small gift shop, the large silver bell that commemorates the construction date, and other interesting nooks and crannies.

Kids of all ages will enjoy the sail, but especially kids four and older. You’ll find plenty of stunning photo opportunities, too.

This is a truly unique experience for the whole family.

If you can’t make the final Family Sail this weekend, you can look for more day sails next season.

You can also explore the ship during the upcoming Haunted Sullivan event. The ship becomes a not-so-spooky haunted house!

Find out more about the ship, its programs and its schedule here.

Have you ever been on the Denis Sullivan? What was your experience like?

Do you have questions about the Family Sail or Haunted Sullivan?

Leave a comment below!

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