Volunteers conduct winter maintenance on Schooner Adventuress

Posted 1/22/20

Although the Schooner Adventuress took advantage of the three-day weekend afforded by Martin Luther King Day, it was but one of the monthly work weekends that the century-old National Historic …

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Volunteers conduct winter maintenance on Schooner Adventuress

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Although the Schooner Adventuress took advantage of the three-day weekend afforded by Martin Luther King Day, it was but one of the monthly work weekends that the century-old National Historic Landmark tall ship relies upon to remain shipshape through the winter months.

Ship’s captain Gordon Sims and winter mate Nate Seward offered some loose estimates of how many volunteers take part in ship maintenance and renovations during one of those roughly half-dozen monthly work weekends, from November and December through January, February and March.

“We have about 15 today, and we’ll probably get about 15 more each on Sunday and Monday,” Seward said on Saturday, Jan. 18. “So, 45 in all.”

Jenny Huntley, development and education coordinator for the Schooner Adventuress, admitted that the range of participating volunteers is relatively broad, from 10-15 to 40-60.

“It helped, for this weekend, that a lot of people’s travel plans were knocked out by the snow,” said Susan Brittain, the marketing, membership and public programs associate for Sound Experience.

Those numbers matter, because many of the most essential tasks of winter renovations for the vessel simply come down to having more workers to shorten the duration of those tasks.

“I’m the only full-time crew member on board the Adventuress right now,” Seward said. “There are certain types of bulk work I can’t do alone. So we use these volunteer work weekends for moving more cumbersome equipment, and replacing and installing assemblies such as pulley blocks.”

Even work such as repainting the ship, which Seward estimated would take one to two crew members about three to four days to complete, can be done with two coats in two days during those work weekends.

Sims was quick to share credit with Kelley Watson’s maritime students at Port Townsend High School, who have pitched in by refinishing the ship’s deck furniture, spars and other odds and ends.

“She includes that work in her curriculum,” Sims said. “Those hands-on activities make real-world contributions to maintaining this ship.”

“Even better, when some of those same students are out sailing the ship during the summer, they get to see and interact with the work they’ve done, out at sea,” Huntley said.

Sims recounted how the first two work weekends of the winter were devoted to setting up the clamshell tarp weather cover over the upper deck of the ship, when the company supplying the Adventuress ran out of plastic for the frame of the cover.

“Your first work weekend or two during the winter is usually devoted to staging the rest of the work, and getting the ship ready for it,” Sims said. “And activities that require fewer workers, such as replacing the potable water tanks, can be done during the week.”

Seward acknowledged that the Adventuress has focused heavily on intensive structural work over the past eight years, and while Huntley expressed her appreciation to all those who contributed to the replacement of the ship’s deck, she nonetheless emphasized that the work on the Adventuress is never done.

“There are always some upgrades that need to be made to the vessel,” Brittain said. “And we don’t have time to do those during our regular season, when we’re running cruises and other programs non-stop. Many hands make light work.”

Those who wish to volunteer for the next work weekends on board the Schooner Adventuress, during the Saturdays and Sundays of Feb. 8-9, and Feb. 29 and March 1, should call Brittain at 360-379-0438, ext. 1.

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