The Schooner Freedom offers St. Augustine visitors the unique opportunity to sail the waters of this historic city aboard a Class B tall ship. An authentic replica of a 19th-century blockade runner, Freedom is a double-masted, gaff-rigged, topsail schooner that was built by naval architect Merritt Walters in 1982 in Norfolk, Virginia. The Freedom was the first sailing tour boat that was certified by the Coast Guard to carry passengers for hire.
Freedom was custom-built for use along the Intracoastal Waterway, with a focus on water depth and bridge height to make her perfect for both inland and offshore sailing. Classified as a Class B tall ship with a sparred length of 76 feet, a deck length of 64 feet, and a capacity of 41 passengers, the Schooner Freedom is regularly inspected under the Coast Guard sub-chapter "T" for safety and always sails with one master and two crew members.
Freedom's owners, Captain John and Admiral Sarah Zaruba, have been sailing for most of their lives along the eastern U.S. coastal waters from South Carolina to Key West. Jon Cook captains the schooner's excursions along with his crew, most of whom are northeast Florida natives.
The Schooner Freedom always encourages tour participants who are interested in learning more about sailing to help the crew with hoisting the sails and other shipboard activities. A variety of wildlife can be seen on almost every sail — everything from gulls, pelicans, and even bald eagles to sea turtles and rays and, of course, to dolphins surfacing nearby. Guests are advised to bring along a jacket or sweatshirt, comfortable shoes, a camera and/or binoculars, sunscreen, and some snacks.
The Schooner Freedom begins it 2020 season on Tuesday, February 11, 2020, offering a range of sails, including daily and sunset sails, throughout the peak of sailing season through the end of summer. Specialty sails are also offered throughout the year, including:
- Valentine's Day sails
- Mother's Day sails
- Full Moon sails
- Nights of Light sails
Reservations are required for ALL sails on the Schooner Freedom, which can be made by calling (904) 810-1010. A $5 discount is offered on all sails if paid for in cash. Special events and private charters are also offered; please call for more information. Due to the unexpected weather changes that Florida can have, sails can be delayed or sometimes canceled, so guests are advised to book their trips accordingly.