The S/V Denis Sullivan, Discovery World’s tall ship, kicked off its 2018 sailing season on May 26, beginning with a full day of free deck tours.

The sailing vessel is one of the jewels of the Discover World program. As the world’s only re-creation of a 19th century three-masted Great Lakes schooner, the Denis Sullivan offers a genuine maritime experience to the public. However, her main purpose is educational. The floating classroom has a scientific laboratory, two computer workstations, and equipment to study Lake Michigan’s freshwater environment.

The Denis Sullivan is not a replica of a specific vessel, but her design was inspired by the cargo schooners built prior to the Civil War. Ideas were drawn from ships such as the Rouse Simmons, Clipper City, and Alvin Clark.

As the flagship for the state of Wisconsin, the Denis Sullivan’s public sail schedule has expanded since it was built in 2000. Excursions now include family sail events, fireworks sails, Brew sails featuring favorites from local microbreweries, and longer Lazy Day sails to Port Washington.

More than 1,100 people participated in the May 26 deck tour and learned about nautical skills, like flag decoding, weather and wave reading, navigation, and knot tying. The vessel embarked late in the afternoon on its first public sail for the year.

One unexpected but joyful occurrence took place midway through the first sail of the season, as the sun was beginning to set. Ana Maria Patscot-Minter, the Special Events Manager at Discovery World, was presented with a diamond ring and proposal for marriage from her boyfriend Michael Francis Cook. Her answer was in the affirmative, and fellow passengers cheered the special engagement.

This photo essay highlights the evening’s sailing experience, and serves as a reminder for Milwaukee residents who have become land-locked in their thinking. The city was founded on one of the greatest resources in the country, and its freshwater is not just for drinking.