Shipboard Programs

Each of our educational programs is designed to accommodate a total of 41 participants. Wheel chair access to the ship varies by port but is usually possible with crew assistance. to sign up for your program! Additional information available at

Educational Sail (3 hours)[Various ports]:
Students use teamwork to help the crew raise the sails and then break into groups to learn about marine and environmental science at four education stations of your choice. Station choices include: Watershed, Trawl, Water Chemistry, Plankton, Oysters, Renewable Energy, and Wetlands. Custom experiences are available.

Adult Program (up to 3 hrs)[Various ports]: 
In addition to renting the boat for pleasure-based charters many groups rent the boat for fun educational program. Programs range from environment and history lectures to cultural experiences and fundraising. Click here for more information (link to charters).

School Based Programming

What is involved in an Educational Sail
During a 3-hour educational sail aboard the schooner AJ Meerwald, students will participate in a variety of hands-on activities that teach them about environmental science and maritime history.
Students start off by donning life jackets and learning about safety on board the schooner. Once the boat is off the dock, they learn how to handle lines and work together to raise the sails! Depending on the port, students may trawl for critters in their local waterway.

Students then break into four groups and rotate through four of our educational stations of your choice. Each of these stations is hands-on and interactive. Our on-board educators are also the boat’s crew, so students get to learn from the experts! At the end of each lesson, students are challenged to think of ways that they can personally make a difference and help preserve our natural resources.

Educational Stations Aboard the Ship

Teachers / Group Leaders choose three additional education stations from the following list to tailor the program to meet their curriculum needs. Click here for a printable brochure.

Renewable Resources
Students learn about different types of energy, comparing renewable vs. non-renewable. They play a game in which they move “non-renewable energy” (water) from one place to another and add supplemental “renewable energy” (rocks) to fulfill their energy need. Educators facilitate a discussion on the pros and cons of different energy sources, pointing out that there is no perfect solution and that a variety of different sources are needed to produce the world’s energy needs.

Trawl Tank (not available in all ports)
Students assist the crew in catching critters in the water using a trawl net. Educators guide the students through identifying and recording the species caught in the trawl and teach students about the special adaptations of each species and how they fit into the ecosystem as a whole.

Educators explain what plankton are and describe the different types, going into detail about marine food webs and the vital role that plankton play in a balanced ecosystem. Students then use a plankton trawl to catch plankton and observe them under a magnifying glass and a microscope. Educators guide students through a discussion of how plankton benefit humans and what could happen if they disappear.

Using a model, students populate a watershed with buildings, animals, vehicles, and wetlands. They then discuss different types of point source and non-point source pollution and add these to the model as well. When the educator “makes it rain” on the model, students can observe how the pollution affects the waterways. Educators then guide a discussion about what each student can do to help alleviate the strains of human activities on the watershed.

Students learn about the life cycle and importance of oysters in the Delaware Bay, including their ability to clean water, their ability to build reefs, and their historical importance to the economy of the Bayshore region. A variety of native mollusk shells are described and explored by students. Educators guide the students in a live dissection of an oyster, where they can see firsthand the anatomy of this important keystone species.

Water Chemistry
Students obtain a sample from the river, bay, or ocean. Using a variety of different methods, they are guided through the process of measuring several parameters, including dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity, temperature, nitrate, phosphate, and turbidity. Each measurement is recorded and discussed, and students use this information to make an assessment of the health of the water.

Students learn the important role that wetlands, specifically salt marshes, play in a healthy coastal environment. Using an onboard wetlands aquarium, they can observe and touch the flora, fauna, and mud from the marsh. Students play a metaphor game using various household objects to represent some functions of the salt marsh. Educators discuss the different types of wetlands, the environment within the marsh, and how wetlands benefit life on land and in the water.

If there is a subject that you would like covered during an Education Sail that is not included in the list above, we would be happy to discuss tailoring a station to meet your curriculum needs. Past examples include shipboard math applications, simple machines / mechanical advantage, navigation, sail theory, knot tying and Native American history.

All education stations are hands-on, interactive and meet New Jersey core curriculum standards. Programs are designed for grades 4 and up.

General information

Capacity: The Schooner AJ Meerwald can accommodate up to 41 total passengers including students, teachers and chaperones.

Education Sail Times: Normally 9:00 am – 12:00 pm OR 1:00 – 4:00 pm seven days a week seasonally

Cost: Contact our office for pricing as we offer partial scholarships based on economic status and available grant funds.

Ports: Educational sails are available in various ports in NJ, DE, PA, NY and MD.

Contact the Shipboard Program Coordinator at or 856-785-2060 ext. 107 with questions or to book a sail aboard the Schooner AJ Meerwald.

In addition to our Education Sails, we offer Camps and Adventures for children and adults.