As the scaffolding surrounding the Schooner Adventuress came down on the morning of April 12, Ken Greff, project co-manager of the Adventuress’ renovations, was effusive in his praise for Haven Boatworks.
“They met the launch date they predicted six months ago,” Greff said. “We actually wondered whether it would be possible to do it all in six months, but Haven Boatworks really stepped up to the plate.”
Haven Boatworks, located in the Port of Port Townsend’s Boat Haven, has spent the past 10 winters renovating the Schooner Adventuress, and this past winter saw the completion of what Greff called the ship’s “capstone” deck project.
“It’s not just another spring launch for this ship,” Greff said. “Completion of this capstone project, which replaced the entire deck of Adventuress, represents a momentous occasion in maritime heritage.”
Greff clarified the difference, in his mind, between “maritime heritage” and “maritime history.”
“Maritime history consists of stories from our past, a record of what went before,” Greff said. “Maritime heritage is a gift from our past that inspires the future, a gift from our ancestors that influences us as we frame our view of our lives ahead.”
With the Schooner Adventuress readying to embark on its ongoing mission as “Puget Sound’s environmental tall ship” for the foreseeable future, Greff estimated the vessel hadn’t been in such good shape since it was first launched in 1913.
“After 106 years, the entire fabric of the ship has been renewed,” Greff said, as he singled out Haven Boatworks lead shipwright Blaise Holly and owner/manager Stephen Gale for praise. “Again, these shipwrights’ craftsmanship is nothing short of outstanding. They delivered the new deck on time and under budget.”
Greff sees the Schooner Adventuress’ renovations “a fabulous story” not only for Sound Experience, the nonprofit group that maintains the century-old National Historic Landmark tall ship, but also for the region as a whole.
As the Schooner Adventuress was carried by boat sling from Haven Boatworks and lowered into the waters of the Boat Haven, Holly recalled the decade of renovations he and his fellow shipwrights had accomplished.
“It’s never been just another spring launch for this ship,” Holly said. “Over the past 10 years, we’ve completely rebuilt all but three pieces of this ship’s structure. That’s every plank, every frame and all the spars. We installed 54,000 lineal feet of new deck. This is the start of the future maintenance cycle for the next 100 years.”
According to Holly, the only things Haven Boatworks haven’t replaced are the keel, the forekeel and the sternpost.
“Oh, and some of the flooring back aft, just because it was so nice,” Holly said. “The great thing about a wooden boat is that you can replace any piece at any time.”
Holly has a huge respect for quality wood, calling epoxy “garbage” and insisting that “the only way to build a traditional boat is with traditional methods,” including “well-fitted joints and intelligent fasteners.”
Because Haven Boatworks had to restore the Schooner Adventuress in separate phases each winter, Holly and his fellow shipwrights sometimes had to go back and do the same work twice, but they recognized the necessity of returning the Adventuress to the water each spring to fulfill its mission.
“Sometimes, you have to move backward to move forward,” Holly said. “We were given a boat that was at the end of its service life and tasked with saving it. I’ve gotten to know her pretty well. The single most important part of a boat is its line, and we’ve been able to bring that pretty line back into the world.”
Holly preferred to reserve judgment about the Adventuress’ performance in the near term, but he expects the ship will be more responsive than it’s been in decades.
As the Schooner Adventuress glided out onto the water with its crew, Catherine Collins, executive director for Sound Experience, could scarcely believe the long-awaited renovations were finally complete.
“It’s the end of an era,” said Collins, who looks forward to devoting more attention to Sound Experience’s goal of fostering young mariners in Jefferson County and the Puget Sound region. “When you get kids out on the water, away from their cellphones, it inspires them. They learn to care about our waterways, and about the maritime industry, and they come back different. They come back glowing.”
It took $2.3 million for all the ship’s renovations, but now, the Schooner Adventuress “is open for business, with no restrictions,” and Collins confessed, “I want to cry.”