Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Joseph Pearson Steps onto the Schooner and Steps into the Maritime World

Joseph learns the ins and outs
of line handling on FV 2.
After sailing on Adventuress as part of our 2015 Fantastic Voyage (FV), Sixteen-year-old Joseph Pearson returned this July on a Sound Experience scholarship to participate in the inaugural Level 2 program. In the six months since, the connections he built on Adventuress have allowed him to continue exploring the maritime world. On an invitation from former Adventuress Captain Wayne Chimenti, Joseph—a homeschooler from Portland—is currently living in Port Townsend and serving as an intern and apprentice at the Community Boat Project and Force 10 Sailmaking and Rigging.

Joseph describes Fantastic Voyage Level 2 as a “homecoming.” In addition to new crew and participants, Joseph returned to find many familiar faces, as well as the steady presence of Adventuress herself. Says Joseph, “FV 2 makes you feel very powerful. You’re dealing with this enormous vessel. At first you feel very small, but then you’re able to work as a team, manipulate the sails, and go wherever you want to go... The crew gave us a lot more freedom to control the ship.”

His favorite memory from FV 2 is closely tied to this deepening sense of competence and control. He recalls sailing one day with the ship heeled over: “I was on Bow Watch and manning the foresail lifts when we tacked. Jesse [the First Mate] was directing crew and participants on deck and I could hear him saying, ‘Joseph has the bow figured out.’” Asked what he learned during his time on Adventuress, Joseph lists skills both large and small: “Manning a very large ship, making Ballantine coils, understanding the shape that a sail wants to be in, working vigorously with people I’d just met, and being ready and willing to jump in and help on deck.”

An assortment of images from the 2016 FV 2.
During the trip, Joseph shared his desire with Captain Wayne to someday build and sail his own boat. Wayne, who spent thirteen years as one of Adventuress’ main captains, is an expert mariner, rigger, sailmaker, and educator who took the helm once again for FV 2. He currently lives on Marrowstone Island and runs the Community Boat Project (CBP)—a nonprofit that partners with local schools to offer shop space and various accredited maritime-themed and on-the-water programs for young people, including a multi-day longdory journey called Summer at Sea. Wayne and his daughter Nahja also own and operate Force 10 Sailmaking and Rigging, a traditional sail loft with a reputation for excellence.

At the end of FV 2, Joseph signed up for an email list to receive information about the Community Boat Project. A few weeks later, he received an invitation from Wayne to serve as an intern at CBP and an apprentice at Force 10 for several months this winter. As a homeschooler with a deep affinity for boats, Joseph had the flexibility and the passion to take Wayne up on his offer. He arrived in the Port Townsend area in early November and has since assisted with CBP classes and helped make sails for the brigantine Matthew Turner, a sustainable tall ship being constructed in the Bay Area. Lately, Joseph has been using the industrial sewing machine, doing handwork, making eyelets, and attaching reef nettles as he learns how to draft and cut out sails. Summing up the experience, Joseph says, “I get to make things. I get to learn more about how boats work. And I get to meet new people.”

He also gets to sail on the CBP longdories—the same craft that are used for the Summer at Sea program that will set out from Anacortes directly following the end of the 2017 Fantastic Voyage Level 2. The longdory used for Summer at Sea is 30’; it has both rowing and sailing capabilities and a centerboard rather than a dedicated keel, which means that it’s much more sensitive to the movements of those aboard. Says Joseph, “You have to keep a lot of variables in mind. Rowing is a very different experience—following the lead and getting into the rhythm. On a longboat you feel closer to the water.”

Joseph paints the anchor chain at
the recent November Work Weekend.
As Joseph gains experience on different vessels, he recently had a new experience on Adventuress. Helping at the November Work Weekend, he saw the ship in her “unmade” state—no booms, no rigging, no deck boxes. Says Joseph, “Adventuress felt so open… [The Work Weekend] was very relaxed, a nice small community. And the food was delicious!”

During his two days aboard, he cleaned and repainted the anchor chain and helped clean the forepeak. Looking ahead to the summer of 2017, he describes the nature of the two vessels—schooner and longdory—that will once again set out on the waters of the Salish Sea: “Adventuress is a large vessel with lots of people and lots of work to be done. Once you start sailing and exploring, you feel a whole lot of teamwork and community. On the longboats, you have to find the perfect balance. There’s no engine, so if you want to go somewhere, you have to row or sail. There’s not many people, so you get to know them really well.”
Fantastic Voyage Level 2 is back for 2017! Teens will live, sail, and learn aboard the historic schooner Adventuress as they voyage through the islands and choose a different anchorage each night. This Level 2 program is designed to offer returning teens a chance to expand their sailing skills and knowledge of the marine environment. Participation in a previous Fantastic Voyage is encouraged, but not required. The program runs August 6-11 out of Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes. Click here to sign up!

This year, we're excited to announce another on-the-water opportunity for young people between the ages of 14-21. The Community Boat Project, a like-minded nonprofit helmed by past Adventuress Captain Wayne Chimenti, is offering Summer at Sea, a 12-day longdory voyage that departs from Anacortes and takes place directly following Fantastic Voyage Level 2. Preference on this program will be given to those who have sailed on an overnight voyage aboard Adventuress in 2017. The trip runs August 11-22, allowing teens to step off of Adventuress, spend a night in Anacortes under the supervision of Summer at Sea, and embark the next day. For more information about Summer at Sea, click here.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Marianne Wells, Two Daughters, Five Trips

Marianne and Matt Wells’ daughters Emma and Eliza have sailed aboard Adventuress a grand total of five times. Emma, now seventeen, first came aboard in 2012 for Girls at the Helm (GATH); in the intervening years, she returned for GATH, sailed on the 6-day Fantastic Voyage, and served as an Apprentice on one of our Road Scholar IntergenerationalVoyages. Most recently, thirteen-year-old Eliza followed in her sister’s footsteps and joined us for our 2016 GATH trip.

Emma on the 2012 Girls at the Helm.
Both parents worked aboard fishing boats in Alaska in their twenties. Recalling that time in their lives, Marianne says, “We wanted our girls to have the same experience of living and working on the water and being part of a shipboard community.” Additionally, Matt grew up sailing in Cape Cod, and he hoped that his daughters could share in that important part of his childhood. Explains Marianne, “Even though we can’t live back there [in Cape Cod] and we don’t sail here, we want our girls to recognize how amazing it is to live so close to Puget Sound.”

If a love of the water runs in the Wells family, so does a dedication to educating and empowering women. Marianne mentions a sister, Lisa, who lives in New York and runs a nonprofit that offers long-distance support to current and future women leaders in Central Asian countries like Mongolia and Afghanistan. Says Marianne, “My girls have grown up with that ethic. We really value educating and empowering women.”

As siblings with a four-year age difference, Emma and Eliza reached Adventuress in different ways and had different experiences aboard. The father of one of Emma’s school friends once worked on Adventuress, and this connection was how Marianne and Matt first heard about the program. Describing her older daughter, Marianne says, “Emma has always had an adventurous spirit, but the trip really sealed it for her. [Girls at the Helm] took what was already part of her character and really solidified it. She loved it so much.”

Eliza on this year's GATH trip.
Eliza grew up hearing about Emma’s experiences on Adventuress, but Marianne and Matt didn’t initially think that she was interested in following her sister aboard. She didn’t have much experience with overnight camps, so it was a surprise to her parents when she announced at the end of her 7th grade year that she and a school friend had been talking about the program and wanted to attend. Eliza and her friend Bailey sailed together that summer on the August GATH. Says Marianne,“She really took the initiative in choosing the trip for herself.”

Why Girls at the Helm? Marianne reports back Eliza’s words: “Being on Adventuress sounded way more cool than a normal camp.” Part of this had to do with size: Girls at the Helm unites twenty young women, three to four mentors, and roughly thirteen crew. For an introvert like Eliza, the smallness of the community—and the fact that it’s all women—made the jump to an overnight camp much easier to handle. Both Emma and Eliza go to co-ed schools, and, says Marianne, “They never have the chance to do things with just a group of women… I know that for Eliza’s first year aboard, the female crew made her feel more comfortable. It was a great first step.”

Eliza wears a harness after climbing aloft.
Why Adventuress? Marianne speaks movingly about the programs that she loves: It’s a very unique opportunity for young people to get away from an urban environment and really live with a group of people working on the water. Partly it has to do with the historic nature of the ship and partly it has to do with a deep love for Puget Sound. Who wouldn’t want that for their kids?” Asked what she hopes Emma and Eliza gain from the experience, she says, “I hope that my daughters develop deep roots to our beautiful Puget Sound and consider the possibility of their work and livelihood being connected to the ocean and the marine environment.”

A good sign that this has happened: Eliza is planning to return.


The 2017 schedule for summer overnight tripsincluding trips for teens, girls, women, adults, families, and Sound Experience Membershas been posted on our website. Click here to find out more!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Teacher Ron Witter on the "Discovery" of Interconnection

Ron Witter’s first exposure to Adventuress was during a day sail designed to introduce teachers to the educational programming that takes place aboard the ship. A fifth-grade teacher at Discovery Elementary in Gig Harbor, Ron was quickly sold on the idea of bringing his class out on the water: “I immediately thought, This is something that I need to share with my students.”

Ron proved to be a winning advocate; fifth graders from Discovery stepped aboard Adventuress this September for the fourth straight year. For Ron, one of the great values of Adventuress is the way in which shipboard learning clarifies and connects with classroom curriculum. Says Ron, “Adventuress provides a platform that helps students truly understand the concepts that we teach.”

Students learn about the pH scale in the deck house.
As an example, Ron mentions a lesson on Ocean Acidification in which students test the pH of Puget Sound water and then add carbon dioxide by blowing into the water with a straw. Following the addition of carbon dioxide, the test shows a more acidic pH—a microcosm of what is happening to the world’s oceans as they absorb an unprecedented amount of human-generated greenhouse gases. Not only does this tie into the “Earth and Human Activity” aspect of Next Generation Science Standards, but it also makes the base concept of pH visible and relatable to students. Says Ron, “With the Ocean Acidification lesson, I think they finally gain an understanding of what pH really means.”

Curriculum at Discovery Elementary also centers around the concepts discussed in the best-selling book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” The sixth habit, “Synergize,” teaches that positive teamwork allows people to combine their strengths, making goals achievable that would not have been possible otherwise. Certainly this is true of Adventuress; no single person—no matter their skill as a mariner—could sail Adventuress alone. Says Ron, “When our students come aboard Adventuress, they look at the crew and they see a representation of leadership and working together.”

When students from Discovery step aboard Adventuress, they are also reading about Theodore Roosevelt, who served as president around the time of Adventuress’ maiden voyage to the Arctic (Roosevelt was president from 1901-1909; Adventuress made the journey shortly after her 1913 launch). As they read about Roosevelt’s efforts in the early twentieth century to establish more National Parks, they have an incredible opportunity: the chance to step aboard a vessel that originated in the Roosevelt era while they learn about preservation from a twenty-first century perspective. Ron explains that this type of synergy has a powerful effect: “With the trip on Adventuress, and with the curriculum in the classroom, students experience an awakening of consciousness about the environment.”

An example of the visual map that the Program Coordinator
created with students from Discovery Elementary.
Reflecting on this year’s trip, Ron describes a powerful moment in which students grasped the interconnection of the curricula. Towards the end of the sail, the Program Coordinator gathered students together in the main cabin and used a whiteboard to draw a visual map of all the concepts that students had learned about during their three hours on Adventuress: Marine Life, Life Aboard the Ship, Ocean Acidification, Plankton, and Nautical Skills. Recalls Ron, “All of a sudden, one of the students said, ‘Oh my gosh, these ideas make a great big web.’ She finally understood how all of these pieces fit together and how cooperation and teamwork enable us to help the environment and Puget Sound.”

Coming from Gig Harbor, Ron is deeply aware that he lives in an exceptional place. Still, he says, many students haven’t had the chance to build a connection with the environment around them: “It’s unbelievable to me how many kids haven’t been out on the water. A lot of times Adventuress is their first experience… When kids come back to visit after they’ve left Discovery, they still ask if we sail on Adventuress. It’s important to them to continue this tradition.”

Keeping the tradition alive is important to Ron, as well. Summing up the difference that Adventuress makes, he says, “Kids learn through experience. Some of the most vivid and meaningful learning happens outside of the classroom… There aren’t many places on Earth that have a resource as powerful as Adventuress. I am truly grateful that my students can have this opportunity.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Past Participant Jenny Smith Returns as Program Coordinator to "Pass the Spark and Plant the Seed"

Jenny poses aboard Adventuress during a Girl Scout trip in 2004.
Jenny Smith, current Program Coordinator (PC) extraordinaire, first came aboard in 2004 to participate in a 4-day Girl Scout trip. She was twelve-years-old, and although she can’t remember many concrete details, the sense of Adventuress’ community stayed with her: “I know I had an amazing time. I came home and made a photo album of the trip… Afterwards, whenever tall ships came up in conversation, I was super enthusiastic about Adventuress.”

In the twelve intervening years between participant and PC, Jenny attended Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University. Although she originally planned to study Marine Biology, she decided that it wasn’t the right fit. Still, marine science was close to her heart. Recalls Jenny, “My grandpa is a retired marine fisheries scientist, so he inundated my dad with information about marine science. My dad did the same for me.” Jenny ended up majoring in Environmental Education with a minor in Environmental Science. Describing the skills that led her to this path, she says, “Everyone always told me that I would make a great teacher. I can speak the language of Marine Science in a way that allows me to serve as an interpreter for others.”

Before and after: Jenny climbs the rigging as a participant
in 2004 and as Program Coordinator in 2016.
When she saw the job listing for Program Coordinator aboard Adventuress, she was ecstatic: “I thought, ‘This is perfect. This is exactly what I want to do.’ I had all of the qualifications. I applied immediately… [the PC role] aligned with my goals and values in a way that my previous job didn’t.” Describing what she does aboard Adventuress, Jenny presents herself as a teacher of teachers: “I teach and guide the crew about how best to teach and guide participants.”

This spring, Jenny came aboard for a trip with the Sussex School to shadow the Season 1 PC and learn more about her future role. On the final evening of every overnight program on Adventuress, crew and participants have a chance to share anything they want—be it stories, songs, skits, or skills—as part of a tradition called Party Piece. It was Jenny's first time participating in Party Piece as an adult, and it made an impression. Says Jenny, “Being able to sit back and watch Party Piece gave me an overwhelming feeling of returning to a community where I belonged. It was a total joy.” 

Asked about her favorite moments aboard, she first landed on the 4-day Boy Scout trip last month. During the daily navigation lesson, crew members Arthur and Tom had the brilliant idea of gauging Adventuress' speed by dropping an object in the water (fear not, marine debris watchdogs: it was a piece of toast) and measuring how long it took to travel the length of the deck. Recalls Jenny, “All of a sudden these boys were yelling math equations at each other. I was amazed—they were excited to be doing math in summer.”

Wayne Chimenti returned as Captain for Fantastic Voyage
Level 2 and Jenny had the chance to sail with him again.
Jenny also loved the Road Scholar Intergenerational trips, which unite grandparents and grandchildren for six days on Adventuress: “[Road Scholar trips] are a really cool opportunity for grandkids to relate differently to their grandparents. We could see the growth in their bond from day to day. All of the crew agreed that we wished we could have shared a similar experience with our grandparents.”

For the first Road Scholar trip in July, she came up with a new activity: she presented participants with a blank chart of the San Juans and they worked together to fill in the chart with place names and pertinent information as they traveled through the islands. On that particular trip, participants hailed from all over the country: California, Colorado, Georgia, Oregon, Tennessee, and Virginia. Says Jenny, “We only had one local family on that trip, but everyone was so delighted to fill in the chart and learn about this area.”

With summer programs wrapping up and less than two months left in the sailing season, Jenny is excited to turn to a schedule full of Festival Sails, Public Sails, Member Transits, and day-long and overnight trips with schools. Summing up why Adventuress matters, she says: “As important as it is that we teach about conservation and show people how to change their habits, the bigger picture is that we’re sharing a passion for the marine environment with everyone who comes aboard. We’re passing on the spark. We’re planting the seed. People might not realize how much lives in the water until they’ve spent time on Adventuress.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Shelly Ballering Connects on Many Levels aboard the Members Only Expedition

Last August, my mother, Shelly Ballering, stepped aboard for the Members Only Expedition. She’d only sailed a handful of time on small boats, and joining me and 34 others on Adventuress was an act of love, curiosity, and apprehension. She had many of the questions that come up for first time sailors who have never seen Adventuress in the flesh. My mother lives in Portland, and her knowledge of the ship was confined to the handful of postcards I had sent. When it came to assuaging her fears, I was at a surprising disadvantage. She was my mother, after all, and she seemed to believe that I’d tell her anything to make her join me on the trip. “What would the heads be like?” She asked. Would she be able to climb into her bunk? Would she be seasick?

Mama at the Helm! My mother takes the helm
under the guidance of Chief Mate Esther.
I still remember my own highlights: porpoises past our bow as we returned to Anacortes, a blazing orange sunset, and a platter of dolma that the Galley Coordinator, Frankie, created as a last hurrah on her final trip.

My mother’s fondest memories came from Anchor Watch. Under the guidance of Drew, the shipboard Engineer, we stood Watch together, took navigational readings, listened to the breathing of an invisible harbor seal swimming somewhere nearby, and tiptoed all over the ship. Says my mother, “Anchor Watch was amazingly tranquil—a space in-between sleep and waking that puts you in a calm and centered place.”

Because the Members Only Expedition brings together Members of every stripe, the participants aboard were amazingly diverse. They included a grandmother who sailed on Adventuress many decades before and wanted to share the experience with her two young granddaughters; a long-time volunteer who brought along the friends she met on Liberty Clipper; two Sound Experience Board Members; and a young woman from an earlier teen trip who returned to sail with her father.

The full "crew" for the trip—36 wonderful individuals who
created a vibrant shipboard community in three short days.
Counting crew and participants, there were 36 people aboard. My mother, a psychologist, was impressed by the dynamic created by a relatively small number of people living and working together in such a unique environment. “I got to know fellow participants while I was on  Adventuress more deeply than I would in other circumstances,” she says. Recalling the aforementioned grandmother, my mother adds, “I met a woman, Carol, who was close to my age and who also lives in the Portland area. We connected over what we had in common—some of it having to do with recent challenges in both our lives—and ended up communicating for several months after the trip.”

My mother was also enchanted by the educational aspects of the program. On the second day, two naturalists from KwiĆ”ht, a nonprofit dedicated to tracking the human ecology of the Salish Sea, gave a detailed presentation on the structure and society of the Coast Salish people. My friend David, a meteorologist and fellow participant, spoke about barometers, drawing with chalk on deck to further illuminate his points about air pressure and high and low systems. As with all trips, we did a plankton tow and studied the contents of the water under the deckhouse microscope. Recalls my mother, “I was surprised by the sheer number of living creatures in just one bucket’s worth from the Sound… Being on Adventuress gave me a sense of all the life both in the water and along the shore. I had a sense of how essential it is to preserve the life that surrounds us.”

My mother and I gave this Adventuress quilt
to my Grandma for her 90th birthday.
When my mother and I talked recently about the trip for this story, we were sitting at a kitchen table in Wisconsin. We were visiting for my grandmother’s 90th birthday, and as one of her presents we gave her a small quilt showing an image of Adventuress rendered from one of photographer Elizabeth Becker’s stunning images. As a lifelong Wisconsinite, my grandmother loves the boat—to her it represents the beauty and promise of a place she's never known. My mother feels similarly about the ship: “I’m from Wisconsin originally and I chose to head West when I was young. Being on Adventuress reminds me of why I love living where I do… The trip offered me pure physical beauty, interest and learning, and the chance to connect with myself, with others, and with the amazing world of nature.”

The year’s Members Only Expedition is from August 26-28. I’ll be aboard again (my mother, sadly, will not) and I would love to meet you, sail and learn with you, and capture your memories of what it's like to step aboard. The Members Only Expedition is open to Sound Experience Members only; children 8 and up are welcome when accompanied by an adult.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Crew Member Natalie Rynne Goes from Girl at the Helm to Environmental Resources Engineer

When 19-year-old Natalie Rynne climbed aboard at the beginning of June for a month-long internship as a deckhand/educator, it was another step in a long, fruitful, and formative involvement with Adventuress. It’s a story that plays out so often on Adventuress, though the details vary in a hundred different ways: an introduction to the ship that results in a life-changing passion. For Natalie, the trip was Girls at the Helm (GATH), the year was 2012, and the result was an enduring interest in science. Says Natalie, “Girls at the Helm was my first experience on Adventuress, and that’s what got me really fired up to pursue environmental and marine sciences.”

Natalie comes from sailing stock; her grandfather, John Rynne, custom-built a 47’ gaff-rigged schooner that he handed down to her mother, Jeanne, before he passed away. Jeanne, a resident of Olympia, was involved with the South Sound Sailing Society, which holds an annual raffle at their Women’s Boating Seminar to fund scholarship spots on Girls at the Helm. In 2012, Natalie was one of two young women to receive the first set of scholarships. The Women’s Boating Seminar has generously sent girls on the trip every year since then. Most recently, five girls have received scholarships to join our August GATH.

Crew Member Natalie and her mother Jeanne,
a participant on our Women at the Helm program
At fifteen, explains Natalie, she wasn’t exactly interested in following her mother’s lead: “I kind of resisted what my mom had to say. I resisted getting into boating.” Despite this initial reluctance, her time aboard Adventuress had a profound effect on her future. Says Natalie, “I remember talking to Julie, a mentor from the University of Washington-Tacoma who specialized in microplastics. We were talking about plankton. That’s when a switch flipped in my head and I thought, ‘This is awesome.’ I realized over the course of the trip that if I went on to study something environmental or marine science related, there would be a 1,000 things that would interest me. And if one specific thing didn’t work out, or didn’t hold my attention, that would leave 999 other areas to explore.” (If mentor Julie Masura’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she joined the Sound Experience Board of Directors in April—another example of the lasting community relationships that are fostered on Adventuress.)

In September, Natalie will start her second year at Humboldt State University, where she is majoring in Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE), a field of study aimed at preparing engineers to tackle the complex and immediate issue of environmental resource problems. Humboldt has one of the oldest and most respected ERE programs in the country, and Girls at the Helm was central to Natalie’s choice of school. Says Natalie, “When I was writing my college applications, I thought back and realized how meaningful [Girls at the Helm] was for me… Adventuress is why I’m at Humboldt State University.”

In April of 2015, a few months before she would head down to Humboldt, Natalie had the chance to participate in the Evergreen State College program that took place aboard Adventuress. Natalie’s mother works at Evergreen, and spots on the trip were made available to staff and their families. After three years away from Adventuress, the Evergreen trip affirmed what Natalie first felt on GATH: “After being on the ship for a few days, I didn’t want to get off. It reconfirmed the spark that had been set on Girls at the Helm and made me confident that my choice to major in Environmental Resources Engineering was a good fit.”

The Evergreen trip also inspired Natalie to return this summer as crew. Says Natalie, “I wanted to be part of the community that made me feel so inspired." The experience has given Natalie yet another perspective on the ship and programs: “After these last few days as crew, what I value most about Adventuress is the community. None of this would be possible without such a strong community caring for the ship and Puget Sound. We support each other. When the Captain or Program Coordinator gives me feedback, they always phrase it as, ‘This is how you can improve.’ It’s an incredibly positive and uplifting environment.”

In June, Jeanne sailed on our 4-day Women at the Helm trip, and mother and daughter were united aboardone as a participant and one as a member of the crew. Later in June, Natalie also had the chance to return for Girls at the Helm as a member of the all-female crew, inspiring young women as she was once inspired. Says Natalie, Adventuress has done a lot for me. Being crew is a great way to return the favor.” 

Hoping to sail aboard Adventuress? Although our August Girls at the Helm trip is full, there are still many opportunities to step aboard. Grandparents and grandchildren are welcome on our Road Scholar Intergenerational Voyage, August 14-19 out of Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes. We also offer the Members Only Expedition, August 26-28, out of Anacortes. Open to Sound Experience Members, this trip is great for familieschildren 8 an up are welcome when accompanied by an adult.

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.”