Gov. Inslee boards Adventuress, visits boat school

Kirk Boxleitner kboxleitner@ptleader.com
Posted 6/12/18

 “I've never been on board her before,” Gov. Jay Inslee said as he explored the decks of the Adventuress for the first time June 7.Inslee was visiting Port Townsend and Port Hadlock that …

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Gov. Inslee boards Adventuress, visits boat school

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“I've never been on board her before,” Gov. Jay Inslee said as he explored the decks of the Adventuress for the first time June 7.

Inslee was visiting Port Townsend and Port Hadlock that afternoon as part of a day-long tour through the Olympic Peninsula focused on fostering maritime jobs in the state.

Before he concluded his day at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock, Inslee boarded the schooner Adventuress, which is spending its summer months docked in Port Townsend.

Inslee was treated to the story of how the Adventuress was originally launched in 1913 in Maine and came to San Francisco in 1914 after an Arctic expedition before being left at the dock in Sausalito in 1950.

The Adventuress' voyage toward becoming one of two National Historic Landmark ships still sailing West Coast waters, a status she was awarded by the National Park Service in 1989, began when she was bought and moved to Seattle in 1952.

Catherine Collins, executive director of Sound Experience, summed up how her nonprofit turned the schooner into an on-the-water teaching platform for environmental stewardship, as well as how the Adventuress was declared Puget Sound's official Environmental Tall Ship in 2016.

“You gave that authorization,” Collins told Inslee.

Operation captain Christopher “Zeal” Chimenti explained how the below-decks berthing, providing bunks for up to 37 crewmen and crewwomen, were once luxury accommodations for far fewer passengers.

Chimenti has supervised student crews hailing from as far as California to the ship's original homeport of Maine. He explained to Inslee that Sound Experience tries to balance the backgrounds, between science and sailing, of those who apply to sail aboard the Adventuress.

“We have a heavy focus on being good community members,” Chimenti said, noting that good conduct is expected to apply to the macro and micro dimensions, as stewards of the waterways and as fellow passengers. “We have tight quarters, so everyone is around each other all the time when we're underway. It's very different from land life.”

Not only do the Adventuress' deckhands learn nautical specialties such as navigation and seamanship, but Chimenti pointed out to Inslee the crew hones the transferable skills of communication and collaboration, which can be applied to any job.

“I love to watch their growth over extended voyages,” Chimenti said.

Shani Watkins, director of the West Sound Technical Skills Center in the Bremerton School District, explained to Inslee that her students are able to earn half a credit in career and technical education by spending six days and five nights crewing the Adventuress.

“It gives them a deep understanding of maritime technology and our waterways,” Watkins said. “We had one class crewing the ship last year, and we're set to send two here this summer. It's wonderful when you can see the light bulbs come on and their faces light up as they make the connections.”

Collins credited the state's capital budget with helping to fund the final phase of the ship's restoration, noting that the total cost of all of the restorations should add up to $2.5 million by May of next year.

“State funds started us off, which launched federal funding in turn,” Collins said. “This time, we're top-ranked to receive heritage capital funding.”

The last part of the Adventuress in need of rebuilding is its wooden deck, and Jim “Kiwi” Ferris, owner of Edensaw Woods in Port Townsend, has dutifully stored the wood for the schooner's new deck for the past three years.

Inslee told his guides how impressed he was by the ship's “super environmentally friendly” John Deere engine, which packs 230 horsepower and requires far less fuel than the previous model. But more than that, Inslee expressed his gratitude at hearing how the ship lived up to the goals of the state legislature's “No Child Left Inside” grant program.

“There's nothing better than kids on the water,” Inslee said. “I'm hard-pressed to think of more effective ways to connect young people to the marine environment, and the maritime trades, than by experiencing them on the water, in a historic vessel like this.”

“We've had more than 50,000 young people sail aboard her over the past 30 years,” Collins told Inslee. “We still hear from them how it's changed their lives.”

Inslee reflected that  enough to be able to experience the water without programs like Sound Experience, but many more families simply don't have the resources to provide those experiences for their children on their own.

“It's an issue of income inequality, and environmental inequality,” Inslee said. “Some kids are lucky, but every kid ought to have this option.”

When Inslee departed the Adventuress to visit the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, he toured the school's marine systems training program that was likewise developed with the support of a state grant.

“It's heartening when our leaders take the time to listen to community needs, and to review the impact of public investments,” said Betsy Davis, executive director of the school. “Gov. Inslee asked great questions and saw firsthand how our school leveraged an award of $100,000, from the Department of Commerce in 2017 into a $500,000 new marine systems training program that's now open to enrollment.”

Sean Koomen, the school's chief instructor, deemed Inslee's visit “super exciting” since the governor “knew a lot about the boat school and our programs and took time to chat with a bunch of our students. He even helped us hang a plank on a boat!”

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