PORT TOWNSEND — The 106-year-old schooner Adventuress is back in the water after spending another winter on land while a 10-year restoration was completed.
Dozens of people watched the historic 133-foot vessel as it made its way across the Port Townsend Boat Haven hanging from a 300-ton travel lift Friday morning before being lowered into the water.
Catherine Collins, executive director of the nonprofit Sound Experience that owns and operates the ship, watched with awe as the now-fully-restored tall ship was launched into Port Townsend Bay.
“It is extraordinary to see her floating again, just knowing the work is complete and she’s getting ready for her sailing season,” Collins said. “It practically brings tears to your eyes.”
The Adventuress had been out of the water since October and at Haven Boatworks, the company that has spent thousands of hours over the last decade restoring the vessel.
Now crews will be arriving at Port Townsend over the next week or two as the Adventuress prepares for her 106th sailing season and the 30th sailing season for Sound Experience.
The tall ship’s restoration has cost more than $1.5 million, with the Capstone Deck Project over the winter marking the conclusion of the restoration effort.
Some funding for the Adventuress project was a $394,000 Washington State Heritage Capital Project Fund grant after it was ranked as the top project in the state during the last biennium.
That was added to the some $1 million in private funding from foundations and individuals.
The Adventuress is one of two tall ships that is a National Historic Landmark and still sails on the West Coast, Collins said.
Blaise Holly, lead shipwright at Haven Boatworks, also watched as the Adventuress returned to the water.
Crews were making last-minutes touches on the ship before it went back into the water, completing the restoration effort.
“Over the past 10 years we’ve replaced every structural piece of wood on the Adventuress, save three,” Holly said.
“We’ve done every frame, every plank, the horn timber, the transom, the stern, we built both masts and did 5,400 linear feet of old growth Douglas Fir decking.”
In Holly’s view boats belong in front of the shop where three generations of shipwrights can practice what some would consider a dying trade trade, but he said he was happy to see the Adventuress return to sea for the summer.
“Part of the reason we’ve done a phased approach over the past decade on Adventuress is so she can go off and earn her keep each summer,” Holly said.
He said he expects the Adventuress will return for maintenance over the winter, adding that even if the restoration is done “no project is ever done and a wooden boat — any boat — takes a huge amount of maintenance to keep it seaworthy.”
Collins lauded the work Holly and his team have done on the Adventuress over the past decade.
She said Haven Boatworks has worked on the Adventuress nearly every winter throughout the past decade, logging about 10,000 hours.
Volunteers also have put in hundreds of hours during volunteer work weekends.
“They’ve done all the work over the past decade and if it weren’t for the shipwright talent we have here in Port Townsend, this work couldn’t be done,” she said.
Susan Brittain — marketing, memberships and public programs associate with Sound Experience — said she has been amazed by the process.
“One of the most amazing parts of this restoration is the boat has kept working over the 10 years,” she said.
“A lot of these restorations, the boats get put up for four or five years and then they become a museum piece. This boat is going to continue working for another 50 years and continue its environmental mission.”
The restoration allows Sound Experience to continue its mission of connecting youth from around the Puget Sound with the sea, Collins said.
She said it gives youth an opportunity to learn about boats and the environment and helps them consider whether they want to pursue maritime career.
“There aren’t a lot of ways to get kids on the water these days,” Collins said. “A lot of kids are within a stone’s throw of the water but never have any relationship with it — and we change that on the Adventuress.”
The Adventuress will be in Bellingham in May and will return to Port Townsend in September during the Wooden Boat Festival, scheduled Sept. 6-8.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].