Los Angeles Maritime Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that uses hands-on experiences at sea to provide an array of social, education and leadership development opportunities to middle school and high school students in San Pedro and Wilmington, and throughout Los Angeles County. Our TopSail Youth Program is offered year-round aboard the Tall Ships SSV Irving Johnson and SSV Exy Johnson, 110-foot traditionally rigged vessels named after sail training pioneers who sailed around the world seven times with young crews. Our purpose-built vessels and their young crews were proclaimed the “Official Tall Ships and Maritime Ambassadors of the City of Los Angeles” at their launch in 2002.
The award-winning TopSail Youth Program is a hands-on education and adventure experience aboard a tall ship consisting of day sails, voyages, or both. Our signature program integrates youth into the ship’s crew where they learn how to operate a large sailing vessel and experience a highly interactive learning environment at sea. Skills gained include team building, problem solving, decision-making, planning, self-reliance and leadership. Our unique learning environment introduces underserved and economically disadvantaged youth to a world beyond their communities where they are provided with real-life challenges not available in the traditional classroom. Founded in 1992 by a science teacher and sailor, Captain Jim Gladson, we have served over 60,000 young people with transformational experiences at sea and changed the course for thousands of youth who were on a dropout path leading to gangs, drugs, and crime.