The Maritime Museum of San Diego offers visitors and residents a backwards glance at what San Diego bay looked like when sailing ships anchored in the harbor. The 1863 Star of India, the oldest sea-going sailing vessel according to the Guinnesss Book of World Records, is permanently moored against the embarcadero and is open for tours. In addition to the Star, the Maritime Museum also offers tours of the 1898 steam ferry Berkeley, the 1904 steam yacht Medea, the 1914 Pilot and the Californian--the official tall ship of California.
The Star is fully operational and sails out of San Diego harbor at least once a year--under way with a crew of loyal volunteers specially trained to sail a mid-nineteenth century ship. In addition, the Star offers local school children the chance to stay overnight and become the crew for a day. Excited children learn how it would have felt to work and sleep on an 1800s sailing ship. The Californian, a replica built in San Diego, sails the bay frequently and fires her cannons in mock sea battles. The Medea also sails the bay frequently. The ships are all lovingly maintained and staffed by a dedicated group of volunteers.
The Maritime Museum also hosts exhibits, educational programs and events on its ships. It also publishes a newsletter and a peer-reviewed journal that contains excellent articles about California maritime history.