Field Trip Guide 2008

Table of Contents

Welcome to San Francisco Maritime NHP

Field Trip Reservations

What to Expect on the Day of Your Field Trip

Overview of Park Resources

Before Your Visit

Self-Guided Activities To Do At The Park

After Your Visit

Additional Resources for Teachers and Students

Park Map

Welcome to San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
Thank you for choosing San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park for your field trip! By touring the ships at Hyde Street Pier, your class will have an opportunity to experience first-hand what life was like during the Age of Sail and the Age of Steam, and to connect with our rich Pacific maritime heritage.

Field Trip Reservations

Park ranger-led tours are scheduled seven days a week in the mornings at 9:45am and 11:00am. Self-guided (teacher-led) tours are scheduled in the afternoons, beginning at 12:30pm. Please email or call to make a reservation at least two weeks before you would like to visit. We begin taking reservations for the school year the day after Labor Day. Calling or emailing earlier in the school year makes it more likely that you will get your first-choice date. You will be sent a confirmation letter after you make a reservation for a tour.

To make a reservation for your group’s trip to Hyde Street Pier, call 415-561-6662 extension 33, or send an email. We look forward to your visit!

What to Expect the Day of Your Field Trip

On the day of your visit to Hyde Street Pier:

1. Arrive 10-15 minutes early to utilize restroom facilities on Hyde Street Pier and to check in at the Ticket Booth.

2. A park ranger will be waiting for your group at the Ticket Booth for your ranger-led tour, or a brief orientation talk before your self-guided tour. If you think you will be late, please call the Ticket Booth, 415-561-7151, or the Visitor Center, 415-447-5000.

3. Please present your confirmation letter at the ticket booth on Hyde Street Pier to confirm your reservation.

Teacher Role and Responsibilities:

During your visit we will be counting on the teacher and chaperones to help us provide a safe and rewarding experience for all concerned. While on the pier, ships, in the Visitor Center and Maritime Store, Groups should display museum behavior. It is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure that his/her class understands and follows park rules.

Chaperone Requirements:

In order to provide a safe experience for the children, we require at least one adult chaperone for every ten children.Chaperones must be actively involved, along with the teacher, in monitoring the children. Before the visit, please provide chaperones with a copy of park rules.

Park Rules:

1. An adult must supervise children at all times.

2. Absolutely no running on Hyde Street Pier or in the Visitor Center.

3. No climbing on ship rigging and rails along the pier.

4. Food and drink are not allowed in the Maritime Store, Visitor Center, or on the ships.

5. No more than ten students at a time, accompanied by an adult, may enter the Maritime Store.

Safety Concerns:

The park is located in a busy, urban setting. On the pier and ships there are many uneven surfaces, narrow passageways, open pier railings, and low overhangs. Please be alert to these hazards.

Lunch and Restroom Facilities:

Groups are encouraged to use the Aquatic Park Historic Landmark District for lunch. Restrooms are available on the pier and in the Visitor Center across from the pier. There are no restrooms at Aquatic Park. Teachers are responsible for all lunches and other possessions. There are no storage facilities at the park.

Appropriate Dress and Footwear:

Weather at Hyde Street Pier is variable (and often cold). Tours will be conducted rain or shine. Dress in layers and include a warm jacket or rain gear, if appropriate. Comfortable walking shoes (sneakers) are appropriate for the ships.

A Universal Access Guide to the park is available upon request.

The Maritime Museum, located in the Aquatic Park Bathhouse building, is open from 10am to 4pm every day.

Overview of Park Resources

Periodically ships are closed or leave Hyde Street Pier for repair. For the latest information, please call the Visitor Center Information Desk, 415-447-5000.

Historic Ships at Hyde Street Pier

You may visit these sailing ships:

  • Balclutha, an 1886 full-rigged ship, carried cargo throughout the world until 1930.
  • C. A. Thayer, built in 1895, delivered lumber and fish along the Pacific coast until 1950. (Only the main deck is open for visiting).

You may visit these steam ships:

  • The Eureka ferryboat transported passengers and automobiles across the bay from 1890 to 1957.
  • The Hercules ocean-going tugboat plied the Pacific waters from Central America to northern Canada towing logs and big ships from 1908 to 1962.

Other Resources

At the Small Craft Department on Hyde Street Pier you can see employees and volunteers restoring historic boats and view a collection of craft alongside the pier.

The Visitor Center is located across the street from Hyde Street Pier where stories are told of early California immigrants and the hazards they encountered on the Pacific Coast. A first-order Fresnel lighthouse lens and a wrecked fishing boat are highlights.

The 1939 Works Progress Administration’s Aquatic Park Bathhouse became a maritime museum in 1951. It is open from 10am to 4pm everyday.

The Aquatic Park Historic Landmark District provides a pleasant area of lawns and beach for eating lunch and playing.

At Lower Fort Mason, located in Building E, is the Maritime Library which has extensive research materials and a collection of over 250,000 images. Call 415-561-7030 Tuesday through Friday for an appointment.

Fee-based educational programs:

Fee-based overnight and extended daytime field trips are available through the Age of Sail Program at, or by calling 415-561-6662, ext. 30, or 415-292-6664.


Before Your Visit

Activity 1: Maritime Vocabulary

Goal: To learn where things are aboard ship ("learn the ropes") and to speak like a sailor.

Directions: Learn the language of the sea. Study the vocabulary words and see how many nautical terms you can master before you arrive. All ages should be familiar with the "Essential Words" below.

Glossary of Nautical Terms

Essential words:

Bow The forward end of a ship or boat.

The bottom, inside of a ship or boat.

A pole that holds up sails. The foremast is at the front, the mainmast is in the center, and the mizzenmast is at the back of the ship.

The left side of a ship or boat when facing forward.

The right side of a ship or boat when facing forward.

The back end of a ship or boat.

More words:

Aft Toward the stern.

Aloft Above the deck in the rigging.

Anchor An iron device to hold a ship in one place by digging into the ocean bottom.

Bilge pump Device used by sailing ships to draw up water from the lower portion of the hull for discharge into the sea.

Boat A small vessel for water travel. A boat is small enough to be put inside a ship!

Capstan A revolving cylinder with a ratchet turned by wooden bars, for the heaviest pulling, such as for bringing in the anchor using the windlass. It was operated by hand.

Cargo Things that a ship carries to sell.

Chantey Song sung on board ship to help sailors work together, for instance while pulling on lines or heaving at the capstan. Also, shantey.

Forecastle The seamens’ quarters in the forward part of a ship. Also called the fo’c’s’le.

Forward Toward the bow.

Galley The kitchen on board a ship or boat

Head What the toilet is called on a ship or boat.

Hull The part of a ship that sits in the water.

Line Rope.

Maritime Relating to commerce on the sea.

Mate An officer working for the captain.

Poop deck The deck at the stern end of a ship under which the captain’s and mate’s cabins are located.

Seaman A sailor.

Ship A large seagoing vessel.

Vessel An inclusive term for watercraft bigger than a rowboat, especially a ship.

Windlass A large, round machine that raises anchors by turning a capstan on the deck above.

Yard A long, horizontal pole across a mast to hold sails.

Activity 2: Class Discussion "What do ships do?"

Goal: To understand the role that ships and boats play in getting things done on the water.

Directions: Working in small groups or as a whole, ask your students the following question: "What are some of the different jobs ships and boats do?" As you brainstorm possibilities your list might include jobs like; "carry cargo around the globe, bring gold seekers to California, go fishing, tow barges and rafts, dredge the bay, and sail for fun." Your list might also include types of ships like: "oil tankers, container ships, sailing ships, ferries, tugboats, aircraft carriers, fishing boats." At the end of the discussion prepare your students for the types of ships your students will see at Hyde Street Pier and write down a question or two your students would like to ask the park ranger about each of the ships.

Activity 3: Sea Journal or Diary of the 1800s

Before starting this project see, After Your Visit, Activity 3: Sea Journal or Diary of 1880s.

Goal: To personalize the child's visit to the ships, the idea is to describe in narrative, poetry, and/or drawings before the field trip and again to do a new work after the visit. Then a comparison can be made between the two journals to find out how much the student learned that allowed her/him to be able to create a more accurate, and perhaps a more exciting and detailed depiction of maritime history.

Directions: Two kinds of writings are suggested here. (1) Write and/or illustrate a journal as a gold seeker in 1849 travelling from Boston or New York Harbor around Cape Horn to San Francisco. (2) Write a diary and/or poems and/or draw pictures from the perspective of a sailor, the captain, the cook, or one of the mates, describing their voyage on Balclutha in 1886. The students should choose a port of departure and a destination and then describe what jobs he does, what he eats, when and where he sleeps, who works with him, what he does for leisure, and what cargo the ship is carrying.

Self-Guided Activities to Do at the Park

Activity 1: The Crew of Balclutha

Goal: Students learn about shipboard life in order to compare it with their present-day lives.

Directions: Refer to Lesson Eight in the California and the Sea curriculum. This activity is designed for one class of approximately 30 students. At school, the teacher writes a job title on each student's nametag in the appropriate color for their group. On Balclutha, the students divide into three groups and spend about ten minutes at each of the three areas: fo'c's'le, galley, and captain's quarters. They record the information gathered to find out what life was like in each area. Then the students convene in the shelter deck to discuss their findings. As a post-visit activity in class, students can either create a class project from their experiences, or each write or illustrate their own project. Extension Question: Do you think it is important to save old ships like the Balclutha? Why? Students can brainstorm this answer in class during the post-visit activity.

Activity 2: Voyage through the Visitor Center

Goal: We can understand trends in history and relate those trends to our own lives.

Directions: Introduce the activity. A scavenger hunt can be arranged with small groups investigating four things in the Visitor Center. Then gather either at the Visitor Center or in school to answer some questions, draw pictures, write poems, and/or read and report on a sea story. Students can go through stops in any order:

Stop A: Fresnel lens and lighthouse life. Describe either what lighthouses do or family life at a lighthouse. What parts of living on the Farallon Islands would you like or not like?

Stop B: Wreck of fishing boat Little Rose. Name three to five things that cause ships and boats to wreck. Name some ways that wrecks can be avoided.

Stop C: Choose three ship models. What were their jobs, and what is one thing about each of them that was fun to find out? If you wish, draw a picture of one or two of the models.

Stop D: The Sailor's Den is a reference library open to the public. Find three or more books that you think you would enjoy reading and write down their titles. Answer why you choose each book and why you think you would enjoy reading it.

Activity 3: Student Activity Booklet

Goal: Students will independently investigate a variety of treasures at Hyde Street Pier.

Student Activity Booklet

Page One (pdf file 380kb)

Page Two (pdf file 180kb)

Directions: Print enough copies for your students and remember to bring pencils. Instruct students to work in small groups with their chaperones and fill out their own booklets while touring Hyde Street Pier.

After Your Visit

Activity 1: Thank-You Letter

Goal: Students recall a past experience and relate it to the ranger guide in the form of a letter.

Directions: Write a thank you letter to the park ranger who led your tour of Hyde Street Pier. Tell him or her what you learned and what you enjoyed the most during your visit. The park rangers would love hearing from you!

Activity 2: Maritime Paintings

Goal: Students will use their artistic skills to remember the ships on San Francisco Bay.

Directions: Paint pictures of ships and the sea using watercolors. For example, a very beautiful effect can be produced by painting a sunset on a sheet of white paper (covering the entire space), then cutting out silhouettes of ships, waves, birds, and islands in black construction paper and gluing them onto the sunset.

Activity 3: Sea Journal or Diary of 1800s

Goal: Students write and/or illustrate a journal after their field trip to compare with their pre-visit journal or diary.

Directions: It's best to gather information as a class from the visit to Hyde Street Pier so students have ideas for their journals.

Journal of a gold seeker.....

Pretend the year is 1849 and you have heard all about the gold that could be found in California. You have booked passage on a Gold Rush ship bound for San Francisco and are on your way. What would it be like to spend from five to eight months at sea sailing around Cape Horn and up the West Coast? What would you take with you? (You cannot take anything that wasn't yet invented!) Think about the many days ahead of you. What would you do everyday to fill up your time? What would you eat? Who would be your friends? Would you make friends with the captain? The cook? Why?

Diary of a Sailor.....

Pretend you are a sailor aboard the Balclutha sailing from Europe

Last updated: January 29, 2016

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

2 Marina Boulevard, Building E, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94123


(415) 561-7000
The public information office is open from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. PST during weekdays and we will respond to all messages within two business days.

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