Ship boat

Denis Sullivan leaves Milwaukee, Discovery World sells ship to Boston fleet

MILWAUKEE — Sailboat Denis Sullivan, a 137-foot-tall flagship in Milwaukee, will set sail this fall, leaving the city for its new home in Boston.

Discovery World announced Thursday that it has sold the tall ship to Boston’s World Ocean School, a nonprofit educational sailing organization founded in 2002. The ship will now pursue a new mission of connecting students to the natural environment. The non-profit organization provides students with opportunities at sea.

Denis Sullivan will join the fleet this fall, but World Ocean School hopes to return to Milwaukee. They also hope Milwaukee youth will participate at its Boston and US Virgin Islands sites.

“We are delighted to find a partner in the World Ocean School who is well positioned to ensure that the Denis Sullivan will continue to provide educational opportunities for students around the world and continue the ship’s original mission,” said Bryan Wunar, CEO. of Discovery World.

The ship is the world’s only recreation of a 19th century Great Lakes cargo schooner. For years, the ship served as an educational vessel to the Great Lakes and oceans of the world.

According to Sail Training International, Denis Sullivan was completed in Milwaukee in 2000 by professional shipbuilders and nearly 1,000 volunteers. The ship can carry up to 50 passengers during daytime sailing and 21 at night, and also has a professional crew of 10.

The lakeside staple struggled financially during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Discovery World made cutbacks that year, including letting go of the last two crew members, the captain and the chief mate of the ship. The ship entered winter without her keepers and in fear of never sailing again. Officials said in 2020 that maintaining a boat the size and age of Denis Sullivan cost the museum about $500,000 a year.

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