History of Adventuress
In 1913, John Borden II of Chicago, founder of the Yellow Cab Company, took possession of the luxury schooner Adventuress. Yacht designer B.B. Crowninshield had watched over her construction and the slender-hulled, gaff-rigged schooner was launched at the Rice Brothers' Yard in East Boothbay Maine. On her maiden voyage, Adventuress sailed down the east coast, through the Straits of Magellan and up to arctic waters. Borden's mission was to secure a bowhead whale specimen to complete the whale exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History.
Borden was unable to secure a specimen because of an unusually early formation of pack ice and over-hunting of bowheads. However, young naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews was able to do pivotal work on the fur seal population on the Pribilof Islands, known as the "Galapagos of the North."
For reasons still unknown, John Borden sold his nearly new yacht to the San Francisco Bar Pilot's Association in 1914. Adventuress' career as yacht was over, earning her the paltry mention..."de-rigged for a work boat," in Crowninshield's historic inventory of his own designs.
Adventuress as a pilot
1915 marked the beginning of Adventuress' career as a working boat. For 35 years, she plied the rough, treacherous waters off the Farrallones. The work was hard. Transferring pilots to the massive ships entering the bay, scrapes, bumps, and full-on collisions were as common as a smooth ride.
Weather forced her in just once, and then only because the foremast went over the side. She served the Coast Guard, guarding the bay, during World War II.
In 1951, the pilots bought themselves a more sturdy ship - a war surplus minesweeper - and let the old schooner go. Never exactly common, yachts of her size had become rare, almost extinct, by 1950. That fate almost fell to Adventuress. She was beached for ten years near Sausalito where negligent party-goers caused a serious fire. Adventuress' stern had been chopped off in an accident and she still had the cut-down San Francisco rig. To add insult to injury, there was a house about the size and shape of a trolley car sitting aft of the mainmast, running nearly to the stern. The main boom was well above the house set more like a giant flag than a sail. Whomever steered had to look through three sets of windows to see forward. Still, she was the stuff of which dreams are made.
Youth Adventure Era
About 1960, O.H. "Doc" Freeman, founder of the Lake Union Chandlery that bears his name, brought her to Seattle. "Doc" ultimately gave up on the big boat as did the next owner - and the next - but Adventuress finally found a dreamer named Monty Morton who had a plan to use her as a sail-training vessel. Morton founded a non-profit organization called Youth Adventure, and went sailing. In 1962, the late Ernestine Bennett came with a pack of Girl Scouts to Seattle to sail. She was looking for a challenge and she found one.
Mrs. Bennett became involved in the management of the sail-training program. In time her love for the boat grew. In 1974 she became the head of Youth Adventure and the financial steward of Adventuress. As a result of that stewardship and with many volunteer hands, the boat was restored to nearly all her original lines. In 1988 she began serving as a floating classroom for the environmental education leadership program, Sound Experience. In 1989, Adventuress was named a National Historic Landmark.
Sound Experience, patterned after programs, like the highly successful Clearwater Hudson River program, was founded in 1988 by Barbara Wyatt and Morley Horder to protect Puget Sound through education. In 1991 Mrs. Bennett decided she had found the right successors to Youth Adventure and she offered Sound Experience an opportunity to purchase Adventuress for the people of Puget Sound.
Sound Experience, a non-profit organization based out of Port Townsend, currently sails Adventuress to ports throughout the Puget Sound. The ship provides programs April through October. Approximately 3,000 youth and adults board her each year to learn her history, Puget Sound's and the ways we can work together to protect the environment in which she sails. The program is actively supported by hundreds of volunteers who help crew for school groups, public day sails, week long trips and continue the work of historic preservation and restoration.
The ship is a beauty again. She continues to catch the hearts of those who sail with her as well as inspire their dreams. Most importantly, Adventuress is growing leaders who will serve her mission to protect the Salish Sea (Puget Sound) for generations to come. The historic schooner Adventuress is still a working vessel. We think her designer would be proud.
Want to know more?
Here are some resources:Tall Ships of Puget Sound by Chuck Fowler