Tall Ship Peacemaker

Man’s fascination with ships and the sea is almost as old as mankind itself. Just the sight of a tall ship entering the harbor stirs the imagination and compels even the timid landlubber to venture out onto the docks to get a closer look. What is it about a sailing ship that tugs at the soul? Many have ventured out to sea for adventure, or trade, or conquest, soon to find themselves at their wits’ end, facing the fury of the wind and waves. There is nothing like it to put a man in touch with his Maker. Even the staunchest atheist will be heard crying out to God for deliverance from the tempest.  

In this day of quick and comfortable travel to even the remotest island paradise, why would anyone choose to travel in an old-fashioned sailing ship? And why would they call their ship the Peacemaker? Who are these people anyway, and what is the story behind their peculiar ship? To answer these questions is the purpose of this little pamphlet, and we hope you will take the time to read it. We appreciate you stopping by, and we welcome you to come aboard and get to know us. 

A Short History of the Peacemaker

The Peacemaker was built on a riverbank in southern Brazil by an Italian family of boat builders, using traditional methods and the finest tropical hardwoods. The ship was first launched in 1989 as the Avany, a name chosen by its designer and original owner, Frank Walker, a Brazilian industrialist. He planned to spend some time traveling aboard with his family, and then operate it as a charter vessel in the Caribbean. 

After an initial voyage in the southern Atlantic, they brought the ship up through the Caribbean to Savannah, Georgia, where they intended to rig it as a three-masted staysail schooner. Other demands captured the attention of the Walker family for many years, and during the summer of 2000 we found the ship still waiting in the Palmer- Johnson boatyard, its beautiful brightwork bleached by the sun, and its bottom heavily encrusted with marine life, but otherwise sound. 

By the time we made contact with Mr. Walker, he was looking for a buyer, and liking us and our vision for the ship, he gave us a good price. After considerable effort to put its mechanical systems in order, and to scrape and paint its bottom and topsides, we motored out of the boatyard in September, 2000, looking for a home port. 

Most of the following eight or nine months were spent at anchor in various harbors along the southeast Atlantic coast from Beaufort, South Carolina, to Palm Beach, Florida, until we finally settled down in Brunswick, Georgia, in the spring of 2001. Since then we have worked hard at upgrading its mechanical and electrical systems, as well as designing a practical and aesthetically pleasing barquentine rig. 

In the summer of 2006, we assembled a rigging and sail-making crew from amongst our own people, under the direction of Wayne Chimenti, an expert rigger of tall ships. We set sail for the first time in the spring of 2007, under the name Peacemaker, which expresses in a word our vocation as a people: bringing people into peace with their Creator and with one another.  

Our vision for the ship is to be a seagoing representation of the life of peace and unity that our twelve tribes are living on land in our many communities around the world. It will also provide apprenticeship opportunities for our youth to learn many valuable and practical skills, not only in rigging, sail-making, sailing, navigation, marine mechanics and carpentry, but also in living and working together in tight quarters, as well as many cross-cultural experiences traveling from port to port. 

Who We Are

We are known as the Twelve Tribes because we are organized as a tribal people in twelve different geographical areas of the world — four regions of the United States, plus Canada, France, Spain, Germany, England, Brazil, Argentina, and Australia. In each tribal area there are a number of communities — from one to a dozen or so, depending on how long that particular tribe has been established. Each community consists of one or more households which all share a “common purse” in that location, funded by whatever industries that community is able to establish. Some are farm communities, and some are urban. Some have cottage industries, some service industries, and many operate cafés and stores selling our products and other wholesome goods at reasonable prices. 

In every community we live together, work together, teach our children together, take our meals together, and worship together. Our life is not “religious” in the conventional way of thinking — we don’t “go to church,” but we meet together in our houses every morning and evening to worship and pray together — but it is deeply spiritual. That is, we strive to maintain a heart-to-heart fellowship with one another, and with our Creator, at all times. To us, the only valid religion is one that expresses itself in daily, practical love and care for one another that overcomes economic, racial, social, and doctrinal divisions. 

We believe the Bible, living by the teachings of both the Old and New Testaments. We follow Yahshua, the Messiah, called “Jesus Christ” in most English Bibles. We prefer his original Hebrew name and title because it connects us to his radical origins and mission — to restore the spiritual life that was supposed to characterize Israel. They were supposed to be a spiritual nation of twelve tribes whose life of love and unity was to be a light to the nations around them. But they failed. So we have set our hearts to restore that life in this modern day and age, in a real and practical way. We hope to carve out of this dying world a few places where children can grow up pure and upright, full of vision and purpose, and where weary, damaged people can find healing.

So how does our ship fit into this vision? We want it to be a floating microcosm of the life we live in all of our communities. We want it to be a demonstration of people living and working together in unity — young and old, black, white, red, and yellow, with no generation gap, no racial alienation, and no economic disparity. And we want it to be a training ground to develop wisdom, skills, friendship, endurance, loyalty, and good character in our young people. 

So once we purchased this ship in 2000, many of our young men went to work to pay for the ship, and its restoration. Alternating between working on the ship itself and working outside jobs to make money to continue the restoration, steady progress was made over the years, and the Peacemaker was finally ready to sail in the summer of 2008.

We hope that the peculiar character of our ship and its crew will strike a chord in the hearts of other people who are looking for a purpose for their lives.