Friday, January 25, 2013

Update on the Ship's Wheel – and a Journey to New Bedford


Catherine and her father, Dave Collins

By Catherine Collins, Executive Director


Tens of thousands of hands have held Adventuress’ wheel, steering her with a level of concentration generally reserved for surgeons, fighter pilots and the like. It is rare moments that imprint on our lives. Standing in the stern at Adventuress' wheel, we are fully present in our role; we are keenly aware that the ship's well-being, and indeed, the safety of all aboard, is in our hands.  

The loss of Adventuress’ wheel last October hit us hard.  In the grand scheme of things - where injustices such as poverty and disease threaten human lives every day - well…it is just a wheel. But it was our wheel – and its theft in Olympia left, in popular vernacular, “a wheel-shaped hole in our hearts.” 
Stolen wheel and historic hub

The community’s care and concern has been overwhelming. Everywhere we go our staff, captains, crew and board members are asked what we plan to do.  So I’m pleased at this time to share an update, as well as a brief story about a journey I took to New Bedford over the holidays.

Adventuress' wheel, last “built out” a decade ago by Portland craftsman Pat Vineyard, was special.  It was likely only the second or third time that the wood in the wheel had been replaced. However, it was the hub that was the greatest loss. We believe it was the original – at the center of the wheel on board when her original owner John Borden steered Adventuress north toward the Arctic in 1913. 

Owner John Borden in 1913

That original wheel came from the Edson Manufacturing Company, an entrepreneurial then Boston-based business that made top-of-the-line ships wheels.  Adventuress’ designer B.B. Crowninshield’s office would have been down the road from Edson. One can easily imagine that he visited the company himself, perhaps ensuring that the wheel would be the perfect visual (as well as functional) accessory for the exquisite new yacht he was designing.

Remarkably, Edson still operates (now called Edson International http://www.edsonintl.com/ – and even more so remains a premier go-to company for custom wheels.  Like Edson back in the day, the company is entrepreneurial, finding solutions to vexing problems facing boaters and marine operators.  Most impressive to me, and reflecting our environmental mission at Sound Experience, Edson also manufactures a piece of equipment designed to free marine mammals that are tangled in fishing gear and other marine debris.

Hank Keene and Rick Cowen with a custom Edson Wheel
Edson International is now owned by the Keene brothers, Hank and Will, the second generation of Keenes to own the company. I went back east over the holidays this winter, and journeyed to New Bedford where Hank Keene and Rick Cowen, who oversees sales, graciously hosted my father and me.  In one of those “small waterfront” things, it turns out that my father knew Rick from his yacht racing circles in Buzzards Bay, so my dad made for the ideal research assistant.

My hope was that we might fittingly replace Adventuress’ lost wheel with another Edson wheel.  Why?  It just made sense to me as the ship enters her second century of service. It would be a full-circle story that Edson could tell too, given that that Adventuress is possibly the oldest ship in the world still sailing with original Edson steering gear. Cool, right?

We had an incredible visit.  Hank and Rick could not have been more gracious hosts.  We saw the catalogue of wheels that 100 years ago Borden must have looked at. Except for not being in color, you’d swear the custom wheels today are exactly the same as a century ago.  Just gorgeous.

Early 20th Century Catalogue on file at Edson

So what did we decide? Well, they say that timing is everything. And I believe that.  We had a budget and the 42” custom wheel was about 3 times the cost of what we could afford right now. Edson was exceedingly generous in offering a significant discount, offering too to machine our shaft at no cost to bring the fitting up to industry standard.  They went out of their way to try to make it work.  Ultimately though, it would cost about $5,000 for a new Edson custom wheel. It would also take about 10 weeks, and including needing to adapt our current wheel shaft, we would not have it in time for the launch of Adventuress' centennial season in March, admittedly a motivator.  The bottom line is that while we’d love to have the “icing on the cake” for Adventuress’ 100th this year, other financial priorities come into play – such as the unexpected need for a new mast and completion of a suite of new sails.

We've not given up the idea, however.  It is our hope that when the last plank on the final phase of the Centennial Restoration Project is complete - estimated for March 2014 - we might consider raising the funds for a beautiful and historically relevant new Edson wheel. For now though, we have some $400,000 in capital funds to raise between now and November 2013 to complete the rebuild of the starboard lower frames - and finish Adventuress' centennial restoration.  

If we're successful, when the "whisky plank" is put on the starboard side next year, we may revisit an Edson wheel.  It could be our gift to the future for the generations of young hands to come who will take the wheel, steer the ship and sail as they did hundreds of years ago. That would be sweet.

Winter crew volunteer Alea prepping new wheel
In the meantime, the wheel you will find on Adventuress in the coming year is a beautiful antique wheel made available to us for $850 by a local maritime antiques dealer.  A coalition of community members in Olympia is working to raise the funds to purchase it.  This is the same wheel loaned to us the day after our wheel was stolen in Olympia last fall.  The dealer found the wheel last year on a buying trip back east.  Fittingly, it was built in Maine – close to where our beloved ship was launched a century ago.  And he allowed us to machine the hole at that time to an unusual 1 ½ inches to fit our wheel shaft.  We’re exceedingly grateful to him for making it easy for us to have a lovely antique ship's wheel for Adventuress’ centennial sailing season. 

Will we give up the search for Adventuress’ historic wheel?  Never. If it's one thing we believe in, it's the goodness of people to do the right thing.  We'll remain hopeful and vigilant - and we'll never stop looking.  We're grateful too for all of your incredible calls and emails.  Like us, we know you will keep looking in the hope that one day our beloved historic wheel will be returned.

In this extraordinary year for our century old National Historic Landmark ship, we hope you’ll join us aboard for a program, a public sail, or one of our many events in the coming year to celebrate a Adventuress' 100 years as a working vessel.  Tell us your story, and why she matters to you.  We can't wait to sail with you! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

From Summer Camp To Soul's Mirror


A teen shares why her senior photos weren't "complete" without Adventuress

Wind rustling hair until it is one large knot. Waves crashing against the hull, rocking you gently. Scents of biscuits and sweet potato stew wafting up from the kitchen. And hands holding firmly to a jib sheet, waiting for the call to pass it.

It is a scene I could never have imagined myself in two years ago. Sailing was just one of those things other people claim as a hobby. Not me. But when my mother stumbled across the Adventuress online and suggested the summer camp, I somehow instinctively knew how much I would love it. Within minutes, I was excited enough about the camp to be willing to pay for it all myself. And my instincts didn't let me down.

Kyra S.
It’s impossible to describe the feeling of sailing on the Adventuress to someone who has never done it before. The perfect freedom of the open water around verdant islands can’t be matched. There is a certain magic in working together with people you barely know to move something a hundred times your weight. Any worries you pick up in your outside life stay on the dock when you climb aboard, and life is wonderfully simple and full of laughter and satisfying hard work. People you would not otherwise talk to thrice become your best friends in a week, with bonds that would usually take a year to form.

 I went back the next summer, and it was not for lack of other options. It was because, when I left the Adventuress in Friday Harbor, I left a part of my soul with it. I couldn't imagine having a better week my second time, because the first was so perfect. it can’t be doubted that I did, enough that I teared up during closing remarks.

Sailing can’t be a large part of my life with my busy schedule, but that makes my time on the Adventuress even more special. In just two short weeks, the Adventuress and her crew slid their way into the deepest hollows of my heart, and thinking about the schooner fills me with a craving for more. That is why I am certain to go back for an apprenticeship next year. And that is why, when I found a photographer who would take senior pictures wherever you wanted, the thought of taking senior pictures onboard the Adventuress filled me with an uncontainable excitement. 

She is a beautiful boat with a beautiful mission, and in the last two years she has become my second home. It is only natural that I would select her as the background to the portraits intended to be, if you are in a profound mood, a reflection of my heart and soul. I can’t imagine my senior photos being complete without the Adventuress.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Girls at the Helm 2012


By Elizabeth Becker, Program Catalyst

 As we pulled up to the dock in Friday Harbor after four days aboard Adventuress, it was hard to imagine that only a short few days ago we were mostly strangers, many venturing out on a tall ship for the first time and feeling that mix of excitement and nervousness that accompanies a new adventure. As we handed sleeping bags and duffles down the ladder and on to shore, we were reluctant to follow, knowing that when we stepped off, we would be leaving behind a ship full of new friends.

The Girls at the Helm voyage, now it is third year, celebrates the legacy of Ernestine “Erni” Bennett and Dorothy Rogers, two “adventurous” women who brought their daughters and their Girl Scout troops out on Adventuress in 1962 and would go on to steer the ship and programs for more than twenty years. At a time when girls and women were not always welcome aboard tall ships, Erni and Dorothy ensured that girls had the opportunity to take part in the life-changing experience of taking the helm, setting sail, and learning from one another, and the two women proved to be exceptional mentors and role models.

In that spirit, the Girls at the Helm voyage brings inspiring women mentors aboard to share their knowledge and passion for the projects in which they’re involved and for life in general. As we did on the first three trips, we were privileged to host a great team of mentors:

Julie shares what we found in our manta net sample
Julie Masura is research scientist at the University of Washington in Tacoma and the Center for Urban Waters. She brought along a “manta net” which we deployed to collect samples for microplastics analysis. With concern growing about the possible harmful effects of these tiny particles on marine life, Julie has taken on the task of collecting background data all around Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. The net she brought aboard will “live” on Adventuress and be used as often as possible to provide additional data for Julie’s ongoing research.

A bonus was having Julie’s intern Abby Ahlert along to tell us about her work on even smaller bits of plastics in the marine environment (bits too small to be captured by the manta net). A sophomore at the University of Maryland, Abby also shared advice with the participants on finding internship opportunities.

Jennifer Hempelmann is a molecular geneticist who works at NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. Her claim to fame is being a scientist who studies orca scat (affectionately referred to as orca poop). Jen asked the girls to analyze sequences of DNA found in actual scat samples collected from around the Salish Sea, with the goal of learning more about the feeding habits of Southern Resident orcas in our region. As we analyzed the results, we discussed ways in which food sources are impacted by human activities.

Jen leads an exercise in analyzing DNA sequencing data

We were extremely fortunate to have mentors Kristen Thompson and Nancy Richardson join us for the third time. Kristen, who works to advocate for people with disabilities, taught us about compassionate communication and gave us insights into the challenges faced in both giving and receiving information when speech or physical movement is impaired. Kristen, who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, believes so strongly in Girls at the Helm that she came all the way from Florida to join us.

Nancy first sailed on Adventuress 40 years ago with her troop of Mariner Girl Scouts and has been in love with the ship ever since. She’s gone on to sail on 85 different tall ships all over the world (except for the Indian Ocean, where she plans to sail next year) and works with the Los Angeles Maritime Institute to bring kids out on the brigantines Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson. She shared tales of her adventures, encouraged girls to explore and discover, and reminded us that no matter which ship you’re on, it’s your shipmates that matter.

Making this year’s trip extra special was our all-female crew. We welcomed Captain Korie Griffith back aboard after a three-year hiatus and were delighted when her two-year-old son Owen made a surprise appearance at the dock when we returned to Friday Harbor. Chief Mate Rachel Slattery, Program Coordinator Amy Kovacs, and Engineer Katie Giuliano--all veterans of previous Girls at the Helm programs--brought expertise and fun to the trip and all agreed that this program is one of their favorites. In addition to keeping everything running smoothly, all of the crew members did a stellar job of serving as great teachers and role models (and donned their fair share of costumes, as well).

The participants were an awesome group of 12- to 15-year-old young women from around Puget Sound and from as far away as Virginia and Pennsylvania. They brought great enthusiasm and energy to the ship and jumped right in to learn as much as possible from the mentors and crew. A highlight for all aboard was getting to know one other through our one-on-one “interviews” where we asked each other questions (like “Who or what inspires you?” and “How would you like to make the world a better place?”) and shared what we learned with the whole group during evening programs.

We couldn’t have asked for a better group of shipmates and I think all would agree that the only complaint was having to return to shore too soon.

ANCHOR WATCH POEM by Emma and Colleen

Calm and quiet, cool and still
we sit in silence and soon will

be following the other’s path
keeping her safe at last

till we hit Friday Harbor we will haul and heel
and haul and heel, haul away all

but now, now we are one
with the stars and the moon and the deep, dark sea

so we sail away into the horizon to make our own story

2012 Girls at the Helm...What an amazing group!
 P.S. During our last night’s anchor watch, we asked everyone to share their highlights of the trip. Here’s what they said:

  Climbing the rigging
  Meeting new friends
  Getting to know each other
  Going out on Ayashe
  Night watch
  Meal skits
  Having the opportunity to sail!
  Learning
  Party Piece
  Hauling lines to see the sails go up
  Going out on the bowsprit
  Ice cream party
  Getting to learn awesome new stuff
  Learning neat stuff about other girls and seeing how many similar goals we share
  Cooking with Ani
  Laughing and singing
  Learning from amazing teachers
  Fan-cay pay-unnnts!
  Engine stuff with Katie and climbing the rigging
  Three Amigos (with a sassy first mate)
  Stargazing
  At the helm
  Our last night together
  Meeting all the other participants, crew, and captain
  Servings of Cheesy Mac
  Having hot tea on cold evenings and being with all these amazing people
  Ten cookies!!!
  The amazing mentors
  Whale poop

See more photos of our 2012 GATH trip here:  2012 Girls at the Helm photos

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kelsey with shipmates Elliot and Zach


A Crewmember's Perspective

Following her 4 1/2 month season aboard Adventuress

 

How to capture a season? I'd intended to write some blogs about life aboard the Adventuress as a Season 1 crewmember for weeks.  Somehow, in the craziness of the season, there was always something else to draw me away from a computer.  Usually I was in program, but even in the free time, it was the jam session that had just broke out in the deckhouse, the call to get ice cream after work, or the sometimes-unavoidable lure of my bunk.  Now it’s all over and I find myself trying to somehow summarize and capture the incredible last four and a half months of my life.  I already miss it.

I remember first coming onboard Adventuress in late March.  It was a chilly spring i
n Port Townsend and the boat was still torn apart as winter maintenance was wrapping up.  I passed my duffel bag and instrument up to a scruffy, salty sailor, soon to be known to me as Jesse Wiegel, before climbing up onto my new home.  I was standing among some other new crew members, awkwardly milling on the deck.  Jesse, who’d been onboard since January, was grinning from ear to ear and told us, “I’ve been waiting for you guys for months!  I’m so excited for how good of friends we’ll be in a couple weeks.”

He was so right.  The crew quickly bonded – through long conversations, structured or spontaneous; over munging the soleboards or other of the many necessary “ship’s stewardship” chores; and through the daily teamwork of sailing an environmental tall ship.  We were a family, with inside jokes and some squabbles and lots and lots of music and laughter. I’d call us occasionally dysfunctional, but how can you be with a 99-year old wooden schooner to operate and an educational program to deliver?

It was such a shock when the first month-long intern left and a new crew member joined us.  I was unprepared for any of my friends to leave.  The crew morphed and shifted all season, with volunteers, interns and the steady stream of participants from all over the country.  Soon I realized that though the people changed, the incredible community of this boat stayed constant.  And the crew benefited, in ways I haven’t experienced on other ships, from the larger Adventuress family.  We would often sail into port to a welcoming committee, where friends and volunteers gladly fielded our phone calls to help with food buys, compost runs, or even housing a homeless sailor on time-off.

I stuck around for Season 2 crew training.  Coming down from a full season was harder than I expected.  Those of us left from Season 1 realized our exhaustion as we watched the awesome new energy and enthusiasm coursing through the boat with the new crew.  We passed on some programs, shanties, policies, jokes, and  traditions.  The new crew quickly made the ship their own.  And at the end of five days, it felt good to know I was passing the boat on to such a wonderful, new family. A certain thread continued, and seems to live in the decks, beams and soles themselves – a level of intention, hard work, openness, good will, and humor, even the constant music; that will keep me coming back to Adventuress again and again.

video 
(Kelsey treats Public Sail participants with her fiddle-playing.)


Kelsey Lane was Relief Program Coordinator for Season 1, 2012.  She grew up in South Dakota, but has been living on or near oceans around the world for the last eight years.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Tall Ship's EPIC Restoration Update

Boat enthusiasts, rejoice!

March is here and we are quickly approaching the sailing season.  Much has been done over the last few months and we are quickly putting the ship back together in anticipation of the Spring Crew arriving!

The short of the story is that we are getting more for our money then expected and, so far, without any major hitches.  We continue the excellent precedent set over the last number of years regarding our relationships with Haven Boatworks and other vendors, our paid and volunteer crew, our successful Volunteer Work Weekends, and all the local passers-by.

Tail-Shaft Replacement
Adventuress was originally designed such that her propeller shaft could not be easily removed for inspection.  To withdraw the shaft going forward through the ship, we would have to wreck much of the interior.  To remove it aft, we would have to cut the "prick-post" which aligns with the ship's rudder shaft.

Removal of the Tail-shaft with the Prick Post cut
The solution was a redesign.  We’ve reconfigured the after-end of the ship so that the old tail-shaft can be easily removed from the stern without wrecking anything.  In the future, this will allow for very efficient inspections and, if necessary, replacements.

The removal of the existing tail-shaft went smoothly and quickly.  Within the first week out of the water we had the tail-shaft removed, the hardware out and the prick-post cut.  This gave us good insight in to the original construction of Adventuress, including the great condition of the shaft log where the tail-shaft runs through the ship.

The re-design of the Prick-Post
After consideration of both design and cost – we moved forward with the purchase of new hardware and machining the new tail-shaft.  In the process, we were offered a “gift” from Sound Propeller.  Originally, we decided to leave the intermediate-shaft out of this winter's scope of work due to lack of resources.  Sound Propeller generously offered to provide the intermediate shaft as well as the machining involved to replace it!  The estimated in-kind donation value thus far is around $8000.  Another testament to the power of relationship building and the magic of the ship.  Thank you to all those involved.
The “necking” of the old shaft just forward of the sleaving for the cutlass bearing.

Floor Timber / Shaft Log
Fasteners removed from the Floor Timber.
The decision was made to remove and replace the existing floor timber.  This timber is butted perpendicular to the shaft log and accepts the stuffing box.  There had been considerable delignification of that floor timber and, with the new sizing of the tail-shaft necessitating a new stuffing box, it was an easy decision to replace it.

The timber has been removed and we are glad we did due to the condition of the fasteners and the wood itself.  The new timber, replaced with a new piece of purple heart, has been expertly patterned and installed and awaiting the new stuffing box.


Remains of the Floor Timber with “Pulled Pork” consistency.
The new Floor Timber – Made out of purple heart and fastened into the associated frames and Shaft Log – Nylon bushing is inserted between the two logs to help with the watertight seal – ready to accept the new stuffing box.
Sails
The Sailmaking Class at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is building a new Mainsail, Staysail and Jib for the ship.  With eight students they have already seamed all three of the sails, have begun building the corner patches, and are starting on the hand work.  We are salvaging some material off of a previous sail as well as acquiring some new bronze rings and hanks from Pete Langley of the Port Townsend Foundry.

At various points we’ve been utilizing a group of volunteers to help out with “schlepping” and other fun aspects of the job.  Sean Rankin, with help from other local experts, has been leading his students through the process.  The sails are getting ready to be delivered and bent on just in time for the spring season.  Our previous Chief Mate, Nora Coseby has been scholarshipped for the class and is keeping an eye on the daily goings on for me ☺.
Boat School Students with Adventuress Volunteers, and Sailmakers Sean Rankin and Sugar Flannigan – 2nd Layout at the Community Gym
Rigging
Only three days after being out of the water we removed the Foremast with the intention of a detailed inspection of the spar itself as well replacing the hardware aloft to match the work done on the Mainmast last winter.  Inspection revealed a few minor, but necessary repairs including the rebuilding of the trestle trees aloft.  Given the age of the mast, it is in remarkably good shape.  Some rigging updates will be included as part of the work being done around the mast.

We continue to utilize the inspection and inventory process that we’ve been developing over the last year in a proactive response to new USCG inspection notes and impending regulation.  We are working closely with our local inspectors and the leadership in Washington DC to help create a model for traditionally rigged vessels.  After our recent presentation at the Tall Ships America Conference in Newport, RI, we feel that we are certainly on the right path for our own ship, as well as supporting the industry at large.

General Maintenance/ Volunteers
We have yet another great team this winter working very hard to get the ship ready for another 200 days of operation. The ever dynamic list morphs as work gets completed and we set priorities for winter maintenance as well as supporting the Restoration Project.  We now have three live aboard volunteer interns working along with the Winter Mate and Engineer.  We also have a cadre of local volunteers that come down to work on both specific projects as well as what is on the menu for the day.  We’ve held three successful Winter Work Weekends with one more planned.  These weekends continue to be great opportunities to get big projects completed, build community and have lots of fun.  As of yesterday, we have logged almost 2000 volunteer hours.
Some of the Gray Beards reuniting at a recent Volunteer Work Weekend

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This Weekend: Volunteer on Adventuress!

Hello from Adventuress' Winter Crew 

We've made it through snow, wind, beautiful weather and now back to our usual winter around here!  However, I still have high hopes that our annual February sunshine will return next weekend, February 18 & 19, for our upcoming Volunteer Work Weekend.

Bunks are filling up! So sign up by emailing me if you plan to attend and/or need a bunk for the weekend. It helps us plan the projets and how many to prepare food for. We could use all the help we can get! So if your coming from out of town or plan to saunter down to Boat Haven locally - please let me know that you're coming.

Some Fun Project planned:
  • Continue Prepping and Varnishing
  • Building Scaffolding
  • Prep Hull for Paint
  • Organizing the Container
  • Removing Hardware from Old Sails!
  • And much more!
Looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you next weekend - and remember, the next work weekend will be March 17-18 - Feel free to sign up now!

Best,
Captain Joshua
joshua (at) soundexp (dot) org

Friday, January 6, 2012

How We're Moving Forward with Outdoor Education

Message from Megan, aka the Education and Outreach Coordinator

Photo by Jempe Center
The winter months are a great time to reflect on the past sailing season, and start planning for future sailing seasons.  With the amazing insight of our Education Committee, Captains, volunteers, and partner organizations, we are finding new ways to move forward and keep our environmental curriculum current and engaging.

One project I’m really excited for is increasing our focus on stewardship and citizen science.  During our 2011 sailing season, we had the opportunity to partner with People For Puget Sound during one overnight program to do a shoreline restoration project!  Our Fantastic Voyage participants stepped off Adventuress in Deer Harbor, Orcas Island, and hiked to Cayou Lagoon.  There they tore out invasive species and helped to remove trash from Orcas Island's largest estuary.

We also partnered with plankton researchers the University of Washington's Friday Harbor Labs and were able to collect over samples that led to increased knowledge of harmful algal blooms in the San Juan Islands.

In 2012, we hope to continue these projects as well as other develop other projects that include water quality, microplastics, zooplankton, and more.  To fully engage in some of these citizen science projects, we have some equipment needs – If you want to directly contribute to these initiatives, check out our ‘wish list’ to learn more.

We are looking forward to a fantastic 2012, and hope to see you, your family, your students, and friends aboard when we’re back on the water in April.