Education Programs


To adventure is to discover and learn from the excitement of experiencing the unfamiliar.

Education Philosophy

The 110-ft schooner Mystic Whaler is the bedrock of CCOAF’s education service model and paramount to its mission to provide experiential teaching of nautical skills, teamwork,  leadership, and environmental responsibility on the Central Coast and Channel Islands. Our educational philosophy rests on the well-proven fact that practical application and a lived experience deepen and strengthen one’s understanding, retention, and appreciation of newly learned concepts,  information, and environments. The acts of sailing and navigating a traditionally rigged tall ship such as Mystic Whaler intrinsically offer applied learning of nautical skills and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) academic principles. The challenge of handling such a sizeable vessel is also the perfect medium for social and emotional learning. Everyone must step out of their comfort zones and practice effective communication, efficient organization, courage, and self-discipline. Furthermore, the size of the vessel allows CCOAF to provide these profound educational experiences to a relatively large number of participants at once, with up to 50-day program participants and 30 multi-day voyage participants. 

CCOAF works with communities to provide programs that are relevant to their needs. While many programs focus on participation by young people 10-18 years old, we also design and offer intergenerational and family-oriented programs in which parents and their children can grow and learn side by side and from one another. Volunteers and volunteer opportunities are especially important to CCOAF, seen as essential in remaining not just a resource for the community but a part of it. CCOAF offers educational programs year-round, with program timing based on the needs of the group served, be it a school, community-based organization, or the public.


Interested in scheduling a field trip? Fill out the form below so we can discover what program would best fit your class or youth organization!

Trading in California

Recommended age group: 4th-5th Grade

In Trading in California, students will be taken back to a point of time in California when all commerce and contact with the outside world arrived by ship. Signing on as greenhands, or inexperienced crew, their voyage will mimic elements of the famous voyage of Richard Henry Dana Jr. Using skills such as math, science, and technology as well as teamwork, determination, and problem-solving, the students will be presented with a series of challenges from raising sail to navigation. This program is designed to not only instill a connection of empathy and understanding with our past but to encourage pride in hard work well done and inspire ambitions in personal education and growth.

Echoes of a Merchant Mariner

Recommended age group: 4th-5th Grade

Echoes of a Merchant Mariner combines a reflection on the historical uses and methods for sailing a 110-ft tall ship in the past while simultaneously challenging students to operate a similar vessel in the modern day. Students will gain a clearer understanding of the 19th-century lives of those that brought cargo around the world and bear the same responsibilities that persist into the 21st century. They will be expected to exercise their understanding of math, physics, history, and engineering to practice traditional skills such as navigation and mechanical advantage on this 3.5-hour sail. This program was designed with 5th graders in mind but can be tailored to grades 4-7 with respect to state standards.

I Am Ocean, Hear Me Warm

Recommended age group: 8th Grade

In our I Am Ocean, Hear Me Warm program, the Mystic Whaler will act as a dynamic floating classroom for the purpose of examining the varied effects climate change has on the oceans of our world and how the oceans impact humanity specifically. Against the backdrop of an untamed world, students will participate in utilizing one of humanity’s most ancient and long-lived technology- a sailing vessel- while simultaneously experimenting with the modern methods and technology of Oceanographers. Utilizing STEM skills, students will take an in-depth look at several vital aspects of the ocean systems that support life on our planet and consider projections for the future. Over the course of this half-day venture, we ask the students to consider not only our presently changing world but to face the costs to themselves and the responsibility of how they might actively shape what our world is to become. 

CCOAF Partners in Education