By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“Very, very few ships ever see their 100th sailing season,” said Sound Experience Executive Director Catherine Collins.
“To be a part of this feels incredibly special,” she added. “I didn't know it was going to feel quite like this.”
In preparation for its centennial, the schooner has been through four stages of renovation, with one remaining.
The 2012 season included the theft of the ship's wheel in October at a dock in Olympia,
The search for the stolen wheel continues, but it has not been recovered. A replacement was installed over the winter.
“I feel like we are doing the right thing. We are doing the community right, and we are stewarding the ship right,” Collins said.
The sailing season begins with two public sails from the Port Townsend Boat Haven D Dock: from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 30 and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Easter Sunday, March 31.
The sails are free to members of Sound Experience and cost $55 per adult and $25 per child for nonmembers.
The ship then will tour the Puget Sound throughout the summer and return to Port Townsend for additional public sails in the fall.
Collins said the centennial will be celebrated at every stop.
The vessel also will display photographs of its different phases, from pilot ship for the San Francisco Bar Pilots Association to its current incarnation as what Collins calls “Puget Sound's Tall Ship.”
“The coolest thing is that the ship is not sailing as a relic,” Collins said.
“It's a relevant working vessel with a mission that is powerful for our youth, teaching them to think differently about the environment.”
The mission of the nonprofit Sound Experience is to sail the historic ship “to educate, inspire, and empower an inclusive community to make a difference for the future of our marine environment,” according to the website at www.soundexperience.org.
Collins said 60,000 young people have participated in educational programs over the past 20 years.
Many of these participants have entered a maritime-inspired career as a result of these programs and have been inspired to see the environment and the world a bit differently, Collins said.
“This is the beginning of the next 100 years,” Collins said.
“In 50 years, we will look back on the pictures that are taken today and say, 'Wasn't that cool when she turned 100?' in the same way that we look at pictures today that were taken 50 years ago.”
For more information, visit www.soundexperience.org.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.