How Jack Started O’Neill Sea Odyssey

Jack O’Neill asked Harry Hind to back him on a building project in the Santa Cruz Harbor. In 1965, they and two other partners constructed a two-story, 8,500 square foot building on a ground lease with the Santa Cruz Port District. In 2000, remaining partners O’Neill and Hind donated the building to O’Neill Sea Odyssey. With its lease expiring at the end of 2003, OSO raised funds to renovate the upstairs of the building, with an elevator and bathrooms, to house its education center, Surfrider Foundation Santa Cruz Chapter’s water quality test lab, and private tenant spaces to support OSO under a 25 year lease with the Santa Cruz Port District. On September 15, 2018, OSO held a small event to name its education center the Jack O’Neill and Harry Hind Education Center in tribute to O’Neill, who passed away in 2017, and Hind, who passed away in 2012.

In 1983, Jack and Tim O’Neill traveled to Sand City, nestled among the sand dunes just north of Monterey, to retrieve an unfinished sailing catamaran they’d purchased.  It was transported to the Santa Cruz harbor, where its renovation was overseen by Joel Woods.

Thus, the Team O’Neill catamaran began a journey to its primary use today.  By 1996 it began to take part in Jack O’Neill’s vision to take youth onto Monterey Bay to learn about the marine environment. The vision took shape when Tim O’Neill, Jim Holm, Mike Egan, Theresa Coyle and Jack McLaughlin, among others, began to develop a school science program.  Dan Haifley joined the nonprofit program in 1999 as executive director and, upon his retirement at the end of 2018, Cyndi Dawson will take over as executive director.