Friday, May 13, 2016

Gayle Schlenker Shares the Ship with her Grandsons

Gayle's grandson Jude admires the view from on deck. 
Last year, Gayle Schlenker of Arlington, Virginia, posted this review on the Road Scholar website about her Intergenerational Voyage aboard Adventuress: “This was the best vacation we have ever had with our grandchildren… It could not have been more wonderful.” She recently spoke in greater detail about the experience, sharing stories and favorite memories from the trip that she took with her husband, Henry, and her grandsons Emory and Jude. 

Gayle had traveled with Emory and Jude on a different Road Scholar trip several years before, and she was attracted to the idea of doing it again: “I really like the idea of grandparents traveling with grandchildren. It’s much more intensive. It creates a stronger bond to spend special time together without parents.” 

Gayle climbs in the rigging.
Says Gayle, “For all of us, our favorite memory was climbing in the rigging. We all did it. We all cheered for each other. And the crew was so sweet and supportive, they cheered for our cheering. I was the only grandma who made it to the top.” Although this was the standout moment for Gayle and her family, she shared a list of other highlights that read like a short poem dedicated to the small, varied joys of life aboard: “Anchor Watch, seeing the sun rise, seeing a little otter, just being on the water, learning about what needs to be done to protect Puget Sound.” 

Gayle also had a lot to say about the crew, and about their skill as educators: “The crew were fantastic. If there was any problem, they were there to fix it. And they were so good at teaching. We learned about plankton, about navigation. We learned all about what it takes to run a boat. Even washing dishes and swabbing the deck felt meaningful.” 

Grandson Emory relaxes in the bowsprit
with other from his Watch Group.
After the trip, Gayle made an effort to preserve the experience. She created memory books to give to each of her grandsons. Along with pictures, the books include the certificates that all participants receive at the end of an overnight program—complete with short, personal notes from the crew. She read back a meaningful note from Rosie, the Program Coordinator. It was for her younger grandson Jude and it lauded his energy and enthusiasm. Gayle also searched out the Mingulay Boat Song, which Rosie sang during an evening program in which crew and participants shared music, stories, skits, and skills. Says Gayle, “We play it all the time to remind us of being aboard.” 

Her grandsons live in Colorado and although she wishes that she could see them more often, she has evidence that the trip had a powerful impact on their lives: “The thank you letters that our grandsons wrote after the trip—I cry just thinking about it. They really, really appreciated the experience.”

If you're interested in sailing aboard Adventuress with your grandchild this summer, we're offering three 6-day Road Scholar Intergenerational Voyages: July 17-22, July 31-August 5, and August 14-19. For more information, click here. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Amelia Foster Finds her Direction on Girls at the Helm aboard Adventuress

Amelia Foster as an Apprentice on the
inaugural Girls at the Helm trip in 2010
Twenty-three-year-old Amelia Foster and her mother Vanessa visited the Sound Experience office a few weeks ago to reminisce about how Amelias experiences on Adventuress changed the course of her life. Amelia recently completed her bachelor’s degree at Oregon State University with a double major in Microbiology and International Studies, she has assisted with research on salmonid species and coral reef degradation, studied for a year in Ecuador, and in just a few months she will head to Korea to spend a year teaching English. Says Amelia, “I knew from my time on Adventuress that I wanted to work in marine sciences. It was those experiences that gave me a direction in life. I’ve been doing ocean research ever since.”

Her first trip, a Fantastic Voyage 6-Day in 2009, opened her eyes to the hidden intricacy of the natural world: “I remember doing the plankton tow and seeing the bioluminescent plankton at night. It made me realize that there was a whole new world that I didn’t know about… I had never seen nature at that level before.” Mentioning some of the environmental concepts that she learned about on Adventuress—including “food miles,” or the miles that food travels to reach the consumer—Amelia says, “I was able to learn about things that I wasn’t exposed to in school.”

Amelia and other participants on Girls at the Helm
work together to furl the jibsheet in 2010.
In 2010, Amelia returned as an Apprentice on our inaugural Girls at the Helm trip. It was here that her love of marine science melded with a greater understanding of herself as a leader. Says Amelia, “[Girls at the Helm] gives girls a chance to get on their feet and find their voice without any outside societal pressure. It allows young girls to be in a leadership role, which isn’t necessarily the experience they have in school. On the boat you won’t be seen as bossy or rude, only as a leader.” Her mother Vanessa echoes this sentiment: “In high school Amelia was very reserved. She would observe and not jump in. The summer before her senior year she went out on Adventuress. She came back [from Girls at the Helm] and said, ‘Mom, my senior year is going to be the best ever.’ And she was right. That year she took more of a leadership role. She was very self-directed.”

Now, as Amelia looks to the future, she seeks to unite her love of marine science with her love of education. She hopes to get involved in public outreach, which is why she is going into teaching. As she plans for her upcoming move to Korea, Adventuress seems more and more like an essential first step on a long and fulfilling journey. Says Amelia, “It was such a positive experience. It showed me all of the opportunities that are out there. Girls at the Helm presented me with all of the options that I had in life and showed me successful women mentors—women doing what they want to do.”


Participants work together on our
2015 Girls at the Helm trip
There will be two Girls at the Helm Trips this year—June 25-28 and August 9-12. As Amelia's experiences illustrate, Girls at the Helm is a trip that instills participants with a love of the Salish Sea, an interest in marine science, and the leadership skills necessary to follow one’s dreams. If you’re a young woman who’s interested in Girls at the Helm, or if you know a young woman who you think would benefit from the experience, we hope you’ll visit 

Sound Experience also offers a powerful co-ed program, Fantastic Voyage 6-Day for Teens. Our Level 1 trip is from July 11-16; our Level 2 trip—open to all, but geared towards those who have sailed before—is July 24-29.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

For Long-Time Member Shelly Randall, Adventuress is a Family Affair

Shelly (left), age 22, in the rigging with
her visiting friend Armene in 1999.
Port Townsend resident and long-time Sound Experience Member Shelly Randall first came aboard Adventuress for a two-week internship in 1996. As a student at Smith College in Massachusetts, she was paging through a collection of internship materials when she spied a brochure about Adventuress. It was both a serendipitous and surreal discovery, given that Shelly, who grew up in Anacortes, WA, was roughly three thousand miles away from Puget Sound. Says Shelly, “I thought, ‘Oh, I should do this, it’s right in my backyard.’” It turned out to be a life-changing decision—the internship set her on a path to crew on Adventuress, serve on the Sound Experience Board of Directors, and become deeply involved in the maritime community. As Shelly puts it, “I sailed into Port Townsend and stayed. I’ve been here ever since.”

It was the two-week internship that got Shelly hooked on sailing: “I realized that I would be happiest after graduating if I spent time on a tall ship.” She attended a semester-long maritime studies program at Mystic Seaport and sailed aboard the schooner SoundWaters before returning to Adventuress in 1999 for a seven-month stint as Head Educator. Of her time aboard, she says, “It will always be one of the highlights of my life.”

In October of 1999, with Adventuress returning to her winter port and the season winding to a close, Shelly went with other crew members to a contra dance in Port Townsend and met Jeff, her future husband. She invited him to a Work Party the next day. The following season they volunteered together on several overnight trips. Says Shelly, “He really quickly fell in love with Adventuress.” Jeff and Shelly married in 2002; in 2008, their son Soren was born. For Shelly, Jeff, and Soren, Adventuress is a family affair: “We took Soren sailing as early as we could. He feels, I think, that it’s our family schooner.”

Jeff and Shelly aboard in July 2004 for the 85th birthday
celebration of Sound Experience volunteer Chuck Herzer.
Most recently, Shelly was aboard in February as a chaperone with Soren’s 1st grade class. As part of the Maritime Discovery Schools Initiative (Shelly is currently on the Advisory Committee for MDSI), over 300 Port Townsend students in grades 1-12 have used Adventuress as a floating dockside classroom. Soren and his classmates had the chance to do a plankton tow, learn about marine adaptations, and design their own intertidal creatures. Says Shelly, “I thought the educators put together a very engaging program.”

She also speaks glowingly of the ship’s plankton microscope, which is hooked up to a TV in the deckhouse, reminiscing about the plastic magnifying boxes that she had to use as Head Educator. She recalls that on a recent sail, participants identified an octopus larva on the screen. Says Shelly, “Soren is a budding marine biologist and I love all of the new tools that are on Adventuress.”

Shelly and Soren aboard in February 2016
for a dockside program with Soren's class
When he is older, she can’t wait to send him on an overnight trip: “I look forward to when he can climb the rigging. I hope he’s always climbing and looking for that higher-up perspective. It is so critical that we teach our children that the earth is not a resource, but the source. The earth is the source of life and we have to live within its limits.”

When asked what she hopes Soren will gain from his time aboard, she has a many-faceted answer: “The first thing that comes to mind is friendship. I hope that my son can have an Adventuress family like I did.” Shelly’s hopes for Soren are very similar to what she herself experienced aboard: “It’s really the people that I’ve met through Sound Experience that I value most. Those connections continue.” She notes that Soren’s grown-out clothes are handed down to Captain MB Armstrong, who hired Shelly to work at Sound Experience, and who now has two young sons. Shelly also recently guided her father to donate woodworking equipment to the Community Boat Project, which is run by former Adventuress captain Wayne Chimenti, and provided a job reference for a former shipmate.

When she speaks of the organization, she speaks of a fundamental value: “caring and compassion for the ship, the people, and the Sound.” Shelly is in the midst of transitioning into a new career in sustainable financial investing and she sees this as the logical progression of the principle that has guided all aspects of her life, both on land and on water. Says Shelly, “I want to do my part in the Great Transition where people will invest in sustainable enterprises in a way that will affirm life on earth, which goes right back to what I learned on Adventuress.” 


If youd like to get your family involved with the Adventuress community, we encourage you to join as a Sound Experience Member and sail for free on over twenty Public Sails this year. Heres what Shelly says about her Household Membership: Having a Membership means that we never have to think twice about going out on the boat... I value the opportunity to participate in events with other Members, to mix, mingle, and connect. Sound Experience Members are just the coolest people!

Friday, February 19, 2016

High Schoolers Work on Deck, Dream of Sailing

Last week aboard Adventuress, Port Townsend High School students from Kelley Watson’s Marine Trades class donned respirators and gloves and varnished one of the topmasts on deck. Since late December, they’ve visited the ship every other week, helping with projects and developing their maintenance skills. In alternate weeks, Adventuress winter crew worked with the students on ship projects in the high school woodshop.

Now, as Watson and Sound Experience begin the process of fundraising for a 3-day overnight trip that will accommodate all of Watson’s classes
Marine Trades, Vessel Operations, and Maritime Manufacturing—students are excited by the possibility of sailing on the very ship they helped to maintain. As they discussed their time aboard, it became clear that they represented a spectrum of maritime experience: from one student who had never before set foot on a boat to another who hoped to develop her power tool skills for the summer work she does at Haven Boatworks. Despite this range of experience, all were excited for the trip, and all spoke with eloquence and urgency about the value of “hands-on” work. 

Alisabeth took a break from chipping paint off of a cleat to express her appreciation for a different type of learning environment: “In my other classes there are so many students, all sitting down in a small enclosed area. In [Watson’s] class, you get more of a chance to move around and learn one-on-one.” She adds, “It’s more hands-on… For me it’s an easier way to learn.” Asked about her hopes for the overnight in spring, her first answer is short and sweet: “I really hope [the overnight trip] happens.” Pausing for a moment, she continues on: “I’ve never even been on a boat, so to be able to go out [for an overnight trip] would be amazing. It would be great life experience. I just want to go out and see what everyday life is like on a boat.”

The leather that Ismay sewed onto  Ayashe's
oarlocks prevents the metal from damaging the oars.
Alisabeth’s classmate Ismay had finished varnishing a portion of the topmast assigned to a small group of students; her team made quick work of the task, proving true one of the most valued expressions aboard Adventuress: “Many hands make light work.” For the rest of the hour-long period, she sewed new leather onto Ayashe’s oarlocks to keep the metal of the locks from damaging the oars. She describes a very different experience with the maritime world as she threads the needle in and out. “I’ve been exposed to boats my entire life,” says Ismay, adding that she spends her summers working at Haven Boatworks. As she puts it, “I do finish work. Painting, varnishing. Basically anything that doesn’t need a power tool or experience.” 

Although Ismay recently transferred into Watson’s class, she still has a lot to say about her experience. She describes a learning environment that offers the freedom and mentorship to develop real-life skills: “It’s just a lot more hands-on. You’re doing stuff every day. [Watson] has more trust in us than some teachers have in their students. We are learning things that we can actually use in life. You can never go wrong with a basic knowledge of building and constructing.” In Watson’s class, and in her time on Adventuress, Ismay sees the chance to develop skills that will serve her well in her summer employment—and if she chooses to pursue a maritime career: “I’m actually quite excited about this class. At Haven Boatworks I’m not allowed to use power tools. So far it’s my fourth day in this class and I’ve already had basic training on the bandsaw.” Of the upcoming overnight trip, she says, “I think it would be lots of fun to be able to go out on the water.”

Students "suit up" with gloves and respirators
as they prepare to varnish one of the topmasts.
Sean, a senior, has already sailed on  Adventuress. Several years ago, he stepped aboard for our Fantastic Voyage 6-Day for teens. Describing the trip, he says, “My favorite part was sailing around the San Juans and seeing the islands from a different perspective”—an experience he hopes to repeat this spring. Of Watson’s class and Adventuress, he says, “It’s hands-on. We’re working with tools and building skills that we can actually use later in life, even right out of high school… I think it’s really cool that we can help repair [Adventuress], keep her afloat, and connect with our community.” 

In the closing circle, all of Kelley’s students gathered on deck to share what they’re looking forward to and what they enjoyed from their time aboard. It was an amalgam of answers, from the broad (“I’m excited to learn more about boats”) to the specific (“I like scraping paint”); from a focus on the people who make learning possible (“I just like being aboard with everyone”) to an appreciation for the environment that allows learning to take place (“I just like being on a boat again”). 

One answer stuck out as the students filtered down the ladder, off the dock, and back to the high school. 

“I’m excited for the trip, if it becomes a possibility.”

Friday, February 12, 2016

Blue Heron Students Join the Fight against Ocean Acidification and Marine Debris

In early February, fifth graders from Blue Heron School stepped onto Adventuress to learn about ocean acidification, marine debris, and life aboard the ship.

When Winter Programs Coordinator Megan Addison asked students to guess the age of the ship, they proved themselves better guessers than their third grade counterparts a few weeks back (Adventuress is 103—a venerable and historic age that falls slightly short of a thousand). Climbing aboard, these twenty students had the chance to see Adventuress as she is in winter: topmasts laid across the deck, deck boxes shiny with varnish, and a sense of many tasks completed and many remaining as winter crew, volunteers, and high school students work together to prepare the ship for the start of the sailing season in March.

In the deckhouse, a small group of students gathered around Megan as she taught an interactive lesson on ocean acidification. During one of the most impactful portions of the lesson, she had students test the pH of two samples of water. The first sample, straight from Puget Sound, registered as a bright and cheerful blue, which the students identified as a nearly neutral 7.6 (seawater is slightly more basic than freshwater). 

Winter Programs Coordinator Megan Addison discusses the
pH scale with fifth graders from Blue Heron School.
Next, a student named Madisyn took the beaker with the second sample and blew into the water with a straw.  Megan explained that humans breathe in oxygen and breathe out CO2, and that Madisyn was adding high levels of COto the “metaphorical ocean” in the beaker.  When the students tested this sample, the water turned a light yellow-green, indicating a more acidic pH of 6.6.  Megan went on to pass around two oyster shells—a pristine shell in seawater and a shell with pieces flaking off in a more acidic solution.  She explained that the ocean takes up CO2 from the atmosphere and becomes more acidic, and that higher levels of acidity can harm marine organisms—especially larval shellfish that are just beginning to develop their shells.

Although the students entered with a working knowledge of the pH scale, testing the two samples gave them an understanding of what more acidic ocean water actually means for the health of Puget Sound. As with all environmental education aboard Adventuress, Megan and the students also discussed how they can make a difference for the future of our marine environment. Later, Finn recalled the lesson on ocean acidification as his favorite part of the trip: “I liked testing the acidity of the water, because it changed color a lot quicker than I expected after adding CO2.” His friend Joseph chimed in to agree. “I like science,” he said.

Elsewhere on the ship, volunteer extraordinaire Tom Weiner talked about marine debris and microplastics as he passed around a jar of plastic recently collected from a beach on Sucia Island. He described how a dead gray whale that washed up in West Seattle several years ago was found with a stomach full of garbage: 20 plastic bags, sweatpants, a golf ball, and a great deal more.  Asked what they would do differently after stepping off the ship, many students focused on producing less garbage. Said one student, “Try not to buy so much plastic, and if you’re buying a plastic bottle you should reuse or recycle, not just throw it away.”

Blue Heron students head below decks for a tour of the ship.
Below decks, winter crew member Kat gave a tour of the ship, guiding students through the main cabin, galley, bowling alley, and foc’sle. Reactions were split. One student said that he was surprised by how big the boat was below decks; another student was surprised by how small. This was Kyle’s favorite part of the trip.  After explaining that his only experience on the water was taking the ferry, he said, “I liked looking below decks and looking at the engine.” 

After the closing circle, students were a chorus of energy and excitement as they stepped off Adventuress and walked down the dock. Many had big ideas to take home. According to Angel, “If you see any plastic bottles or any garbage on the beach, you can help pick it up.” They returned to their classroom for the rest of the day, loaded up with a few more tools for protecting Puget Sound.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Young Hands, Old Boat: High School Students Get Hands-On Experience aboard Adventuress

For an hour-and-a-half each Tuesday and Thursday, Port Townsend High School students in Kelley Watson’s Maritime Manufacturing class get a rare opportunity: the chance to stand up, stretch their limbs, and take part in hands-on learning in their high school woodshop and aboard the 103-year-old schooner Adventuress. Since the beginning of the school year, they’ve developed their hand tool and woodworking skills as they’ve tackled a range of assignments; students spoke proudly about projects that ranged from making a dovetailed box to building a table to restoring a set of century-old saws.

The winter cover on Adventuress allows the ship to serve as
 a "floating dockside classroom" for over 300 local students.
This winter, the eleven students in Watson’s class also have the chance to help with maintenance work aboard Adventuress, from sanding booms to assisting with the construction of the winter cover that allows Adventuress to serve as a “floating dockside classroom” for over 300 local students in grades 1-12. Watson’s students first came aboard in December when Adventuress was on the hard in Boat Haven, and since then have helped with maintenance projects while the ship has been moored at Point Hudson Marina. Additionally, members of Adventuress’ winter crew regularly visit the woodshop classroom to help with ongoing projects. Says teacher Kelley Watson, “It’s such a valuable experience… A lot of these students have never been on a boat before.”

Students work to disassemble and clean blocks.
On a recent Tuesday morning, the shop was buzzing with activity: half of the students sanded Adventuress’ foreboom in preparation for a fresh coat of varnish while the other half worked to clean some of the roughly 80 blocks that are used aboard Adventuress.  Two students, Bella and Zach, took a break from the hubbub to reflect on what time aboard Adventuress means to them.

Seventeen-year-old Zach says, “It’s the only hands-on class I have, which is something I really learn by.  It’s much more involvement than sitting in a chair all day.”  He’s been aboard three times this winter, and the sheer massiveness of Adventuress—both the size of the ship and the scope of her history—has left him with a lasting impression: “It was cool the feeling of how old it is.  It has such an interesting history. It’s really so big, you just get this sense of excitement...  Your mind just fills up with thoughts of what happens on the boat when people are sailing.  What does it sound like? What does it look like?”  He also values the mentorship of winter crew, three of whom were guiding projects in the shop that day: “It’s been an honor to work with people on Adventuress, people who are experts.  It’s cool to be around them, to look up to them.” 

Sanding the foreboom.
Another student, sixteen-year-old Bella, has discovered in interest in restoration work—she was the one who restored the century-old saws.  Reflecting on the value of this type of work, Bella says, “It’s already made, it’s already there, but getting it back to its glory days, restoring it, that’s really important… These types of things need to be restored. They’re part of our history that we need to keep.”  Given that Adventuress is a National Historic Landmark whose entire hull was recently restored as part of a five year project that ended in April of 2014, time aboard the ship fits perfectly with Bella’s passions.  She echoes Zach’s sentiment about the value of hands-on work: “This is by far one of my favorite classes. I love to learn hands on. It gets through my brain more.”  She especially values the opportunity to experience firsthand the beauty and complexity of the ship: “In high school you don’t get a lot of field trips. You don’t get to go out and do things like this… It’s so important to actually look at how beautiful the little details really are [aboard Adventuress]. You can’t get that from a textbook or a website.”

Watson has several other shop classes that are spending regular time aboard Adventuress this winter, along with students of many different ages from Port Townsend schools and the surrounding areas.  We hope you’ll follow along as we share fun and inspiring stories from our work this winter—and we hope you’ll step aboard when the sailing season begins in March!  Sound Experience offers overnight trips for teens, families, and adults, a Membership program that allows free sailing on over twenty Public Sails each year, and many other opportunities to join our welcoming and enthusiastic community.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Voyager Students Start Winter Work on Adventuress by Stickering Wood

Last Friday, high school students from the Community Boat Project’s (CBP) Puget Sound Voyagers program “stickered” the wood that will be used for Adventuress’ planned deck rebuild in the winter of 2017/2018. Under the guidance of past Adventuress Captain Wayne Chimenti—now the lead instructor at CBP—students, CBP volunteers, and members of the Adventuress crew stacked forty-foot pieces of lumber, placing a series of small sticks between each layer so that air circulation will help the wood dry properly during its year-and-a-half in storage. In between the hubbub and activity, two students—Emily and Aelf—spoke about what working on Adventuress means to them.
Sixteen-year-old Emily has a long history with Adventuress: Girls at the Helm (GATH) trips in 2012 and 2013, as well as work aboard Adventuress with the Voyager program this year and last. Participating in the immense preparation for the deck rebuild inspired Emily to speak about the side of sailing that she didn’t see on GATH: each year’s community-oriented effort to preserve, restore, and protect Adventuress to ensure that she sails for generations to come. Says Emily, “It’s really exciting to see the raw materials that are needed for the deck. I love getting to see this perspective… Last year we got to do a lot of small repairs and participate in behind-the-scenes work that you don’t see if you just come aboard to sail… I like seeing the deeper work that goes into taking care of the boat. I really appreciate being a part of this.”

Of her two trips on Adventuress, Emily says, “[Girls at the Helm] was so great the first year I just had to come back.” Her favorite memories center around the sense of community that crew and participants created onboard: “I loved building friendships with people who came from all across the country.” Now, looking ahead towards her time on Adventuress this winter, she has a GATH-worthy goal: “I hope to become more comfortable in a leadership position.”

Aelf, also sixteen, appreciated the continuity of last year’s winter projects. She says, “We came back week after week so that we could see the work we had done.” Now, with the Voyagers just beginning their time on Adventuress—they’ll return to the ship each Friday for the rest of winter—she’s also excited to have access to Adventuress’ science equipment, especially the plankton net and plankton identification materials. She says, “You can study plankton all you want, but it’s not the same as actually using a plankton net and seeing them under a microscope.” Discussing the experiential aspect of time aboard, she says, “Adventuress is the connection between sea, science, sailing, and getting your hands on things. That connection is missing a lot these days.” (Aelf was also interviewed last year—if you’d like to read more about her story, including her experience as a scholarship recipient on the Fantastic Voyage 3-Day, you can scroll down or click here.)

Over 300 students in grades 1-12 will step aboard Adventuress this winter, integrating their classroom curriculum with experiential learning on the ship. We’ll be posting regular stories on this blog, so stay tuned.