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.