New Captain of Schooner BRILLIANT Named

Mystic Seaport Museum has named Daniel McKenzie captain of the schooner Brilliant.
BRILLIANT captain Dan McKenzie
Dan McKenzie, the new captain of BRILLIANT.

Mystic Seaport Museum has named Daniel McKenzie captain of the schooner Brilliant.

The 61-foot schooner is the platform for one of the oldest youth sail training programs in the country. Designed by legendary naval architect Olin Stephens II and launched in 1932, Brilliant operates a busy schedule of summer youth programs and spring and fall adult programs on multi-day cruises throughout New England and beyond. McKenzie will be responsible for all aspects of the vessel’s operation.

“Being captain of Brilliant requires someone who is not just an outstanding mariner, but someone who understands the special role the schooner plays in introducing young and adult sailors to the joys and life lessons of sailing,” said Mystic Seaport president Steve White. “Brilliant is a public ambassador for the Museum and everything that makes sailing special. We are confident Dan is the right person to be at Brilliant’s helm.

McKenzie brings extensive experience in sail training and education with billets on numerous sailing vessels, including the Los Angeles Maritime Institute’s 110-foot brigantine Exy Johnson, the clipper Stad Amsterdam, Pride of Baltimore II, and most recently completing three trans-Atlantic voyages on the SeaMester vessel Argo.

“My emphasis in sail training is definitely to make sure that the students have a strong foundation and support net where they feel comfortable challenging themselves–and being challenged,” said McKenzie. “I expect that for a lot of these people maybe they’ve been on boats before, but not a sailboat, and certainly not on such a large boat that requires so much work.”

Schooner BRILLIANT. Photo: Mystic Seaport
Schooner BRILLIANT under sail.

For high school students, getting beyond peer approval and instilling self-confidence is a key goal for McKenzie.

“They are at a time in their lives when the approval of their friends matters a lot to them—and that’s OK—but  they need to know that none of it matters if they don’t have confidence in themselves,” he said. “I think that is part of the reason why I enjoy challenging students so much on these boats. It’s an important lesson for everyone.”

A native of New Jersey, McKenzie has a B.S. from Warren Wilson College and is presently completing a M.S. ExEd from Minnesota State University. He holds a USCG 500 tons Ocean Masters License and is a resident of Mystic, Conn.

When asked what is he looking forward to most in his new post, McKenzie had a quick answer: “Sailing that beautiful boat!”

For more information about the Brilliant and her sail training programs, please visit the Brilliant webpage.