Monday, August 22, 2011

Adventuress teams up with The Boat School for her new Mainsail

This coming winter students at The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, in conjunction with Sean Rankins of Northwest Sails, will be building a new Mainsail for the schooner Adventuress.  NWSWB, locally known as “The Boat School” is accepting applications for the 2012 Sailmaking and Rigging class to be taught January 9th through March 23rd, 2012.  And, there is space available for you to sign up!

The class will introduce students to the full range of traditional sailmaking skills, including tools, materials, design, measuring, handwork, machine work, canvas work and the range of basic techniques needed by Sailmakers and Riggers.  It is a hands-on, technique-oriented course that students will find to be a superlative introduction to the field.  A complete course listing is available on the Boat School's web page at:
Master Sailmaker, Sean Rankins, of Northwest Sails will teach the class and will be assisted by other professional sailmakers and riggers.  Sean has well over thirty years of experience as a sailmaker.  Adventuress has been working with Sean over the last year to design and build new sails as part of the Centennial Restoration Project.

This is a great opportunity to work alongside The Boat School as both organizations are learning institutions valuing education to increase awareness and skills of traditional maritime trades.  Many Boat School graduates work in tall ships, shipyards, boatshops and sail lofts across the US, Canada, Europe and Asia where their craftsmanship, creativity and artistic talents enhance their communities.

Adventuress’ Mainsail is the second largest working sail on the West Coast and carries over 3,000 people a year throughout Puget Sound and the lower Salish Sea.  At 2,500 square feet it will be the first of the four lower sails to be built for the ship’s 100th birthday.

During the 2012 class, students will also make sails for the Dana Point CA-based gaff topsail schooner The Spirit of Dana Point.

The Sailmaking and Rigging class is a comprehensive and intensive class.  Students will work in the School's Sail Loft 10am - 5pm Mondays and 8am -5pm daily Tuesday through Friday as well as on other local vessels as appropriate.

Other Boat School programs include 9 month diplomas and 12 month Associate Degrees of Occupational Studies in Traditional Small Craft, Traditional Large Craft, and Contemporary Wooden Boatbuilding in addition to the 3 month Certificate program in the Sailmaking and Rigging class announced above.  

Interested?  Contact Captain Joshua Berger at: Joshua(at)soundexp(dot)org

Or, the NWSWB directly at:

The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding

42 N Water Street, Port Hadlock WA 98339

(See them on Facebook at

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Girls Take the Helm

By Elizabeth Becker

In late July, an enthusiastic group of 16 young women, average age 13, boarded Adventuress in Friday Harbor for 3 days of sailing, learning, and exploring.  Except for one group of five Girl Scouts who had journeyed all the way from central Oregon, the girls didn’t know one another.  But any hesitance quickly evaporated during the opening circle, lunch, and Watch Group orientations.  A sunny afternoon of sailing kept everyone busy hauling on lines, tacking, and taking turns at the helm.  At anchor in McKay Harbor off Lopez Island, preparations began for the evening program, which would include resource reports and game night.

One of the unique aspects of Girls at the Helm is having a group of women mentors aboard to share their passions and expertise with the participants.  On this trip, the five mentors shared their interests in wildlife biology, teamwork, photography, tall ships, and water quality.  The crew, which was mostly female for this trip, added plankton and sail theory to the mix.

Furling the jib in windy weather
On day 2, the ship headed south and east into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, heading up Rosario Strait.  The sun and calm seas of the day before had given way to cooler temperatures, stronger winds, and sizable swells, giving all aboard a taste of saltier sailing.  Heading back through Thatcher Pass brought smoother waters along with a bit of rain. But once at anchor in Blind Bay off Shaw Island, the sun came out and there was plenty of time for climbing aloft, sailing Ayashe, and doing some fancy knotwork.

During dinner, the participants had an opportunity for some one-on-one time with the mentors, with an assignment to ask them questions and then share the answers with the whole group during the evening program. The girls did an awesome job with their presentations, which were followed up with skits by each Watch Group.

The trip ended far too soon. Day 3 brought Adventuress back to Friday Harbor under sunny skies. The girls left with great memories, a better sense of their abilities, and a new window into what’s possible.
“I learned that I’m stronger than I thought.” ---participant

Studying plankton
The Intrepid Mentors
Hauling up the mainsail
Studying the charts
Learning Adventuress' sails
Preparing to go up Adventuress' mainmast!