In many other towns, seeing a 101-foot gaff-rigged schooner cradled in a massive boat sling lift, like a toddler in a jumper seat, would be a relatively unusual sight.
And while a person is more likely to see such a sight at the Port Townsend Boat Haven, the nature of the ship that was getting hosed down on the morning of Oct. 15 still set it apart from many of the big rigs to receive similar treatment in the local boatyard.
The 105-year-old Schooner Adventuress is one of only two National Historic Landmark sailing ships still in active operation on the West Coast, and it was lifted out of the waters and hauled on shore for the final phase of its restoration.
Catherine Collins serves as executive director for Sound Experience, the state-based nonprofit that utilizes the Adventuress for its mission of providing a hands-on education in various facets of the maritime field, from marine science and environmental stewardship to boatbuilding and marine vessel operations.
Collins noted Sound Experience’s restoration efforts have already amounted to more than $1.5 million to date, which she estimated would total roughly $2.5 million for the past decade, once this winter’s work is complete.
Collins placed the cost of the winter’s restoration work at more than $925,000, which will include the entire deck of the 101-foot gaff-rigged schooner, and is estimated at more than $925,000, of which $394,000 comes from the Washington State Heritage Capital Projects funding.
“The Adventuress was the top-ranked preservation project in the state,” Collins said.
Collins thanked “generous private donors” for supplying additional funds, while still calling for contributions to make up the remaining $200,000 needed to complete the replacement of the Adventuress’ main deck and support structure this winter.
Likewise, while she expressed her gratitude to Haven Boatworks in Port Townsend’s Boat Haven for taking on the project, she also encouraged anyone interested in volunteering their labor, “on weekdays and the first weekend of every month,” to contact Sound Experience at 360-379-0438, ext. 1.
“We’re coming up on the most challenging part of this project,” said Mark Donahue, Sound Experience board member and co-manager of the restoration project.
Donahue noted that even the restoration of the ship is providing a number of folks with firsthand experience in the maritime trades, citing the number of current and former students of the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building whom he knows will be taking part.
“This will put a lot of graduates and new shipwrights to work,” Donahue said. “The hands and hearts of this community are coming together. It’s an educational opportunity for kids all season long.”
Donahue additionally touted the contributions of local high school students, whom he reported will be working on deck hatches and furniture, as well as the Northwest Maritime Center, which is working with Haven Boatworks to make the aft deck hatch larger.
“You have to be very careful with what you remove in the midst of restoration,” said Dirk Kristensen a volunteer with Sound Experience’s ship committee. “You’re not just preserving a level of construction quality, but maintaining historical attributes.”
Donahue expects the projected 24-week building period, which is estimated at 10,000 hours of shipyard labor, should yield a more “robust” ship, capable of serving more students, with Sound Experience board member Ben Crowl adding that a number of those students will be at-risk youth.
“Our goal here is to help generations to come,” Crowl said.