My First Sailboat Experience

I am going to start this story off with a little bit of honesty – I have never been on a sail boat before.  I couldn’t tell you the difference between port and starboard without Googling it first.  When Sound Experience and Draw Events offered passage for media on the Tall Ship Adventuress sail from Seattle to Tacoma coinciding with the Festival of Sail, I was both excited and a little apprehensive. Regardless of how I felt, I asked my boss if I could take a day of annual leave, parked my car at Foss Waterway Seaport in Tacoma and headed up to Shilshole Marina in Seattle to begin an adventure on the Puget Sound!

Adventuress! (Photo Credit: Lesley Haenny)
Media Day

Sound Experience Executive Director, Catherine Collins, met us all on a chilly Wednesday afternoon prior to boarding the Adventuress.  Right away, I knew she was someone I needed to hang out with regularly!  She was incredibly friendly and made you feel right at home immediately.  Myself and other members of the media all followed her to the Adventuress, where we then met our ship’s crew!

Upon boarding, our ship’s captain, Rachael Slattery, introduced us to the crew and went over a safety briefing.  Captain Slattery started off with Sound Experience in 2008 as a volunteer educator and deckhand, and then served two seasons as First Mate. As a woman, I just want to say that having a female captain was pretty much a girl power moment in my book!

Captain Slattery and her co-captain, Rosie, at the helm.

The Adventuress’s First Mate, Chris Chimenti, continued with the safety briefing and modeled the fashionable life jackets for us all before it was time to sail away!  We joined Catherine as we began to sail to the Sound as she used a map to show us a visual of the history of the Adventuress.

The History

The Schooner Adventuress first launched in 1913 in East Boothbay, Maine.  The ship was built for wealthy Chicago businessman, John Borden II, for an Arctic expedition to secure a Bowhead Whale specimen for the American Museum of Natural History. On board the ship was the man who inspired the character for Indiana Jones, Roy Chapman Andrews. You can read more about Mr. Andrews fascinating life here.

Sound Experience Executive Director, Catherine Collins, talking about the history of Adventuress.

The following year, Borden sold her to the San Francisco Bar Pilots, who altered her rig to accommodate working conditions.  Adventuress worked the treacherous waters off the Golden Gate Bridge for more than thirty years, and served the U.S. Coast Guard patrolling the shoreline during WWII.

Posing and facing the wrong way on the ship, but I didn’t know that until right after the photo was taken!

By the 1950’s, it seemed the ship’s adventures were over. In 1950, Seattle entrepreneur, O.H. “Doc” Freeman, purchased the now dilapidated ship for $7,800, and took her up the coast for San Francisco back to Seattle. While the trip was harrowing, she made it to the waters of the Puget Sound to begin a new life. Her new life including helping youth learn about sailing, and in 1989, Adventuress was named a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.

Views from the bow (Photo Credit: Lesley Haenny)

Adventuress herself is a 98-ton, 133 foot Gaff Topsail Two-masted Schooner with a rig height of 110 feet. Her mainsail is the second largest working sail on the West Coast and carries over 3,000 people a year throughout Puget Sound and Salish Sea.

(Photo Credit: Lesley Haenny)
(Photo Credit: Lesley Haenny)
The Experience

After learning all about the history of the ship and making introductions to our new ship family we would be spending the next six hours with, we were free to sit back, relax and enjoy the afternoon. We helped the crew set the mainsail by hauling on the main halyard, learned how to properly use the head (the bathroom), and helped drop the sails before entering the Foss Waterway in Tacoma.

(Photo Credit: Lesley Haenny)

I highly recommend checking out Sound Experience for one of their sailing programs. The entire experience was top notch, and knowing I was standing on a piece of American history made the afternoon that much more significant for me.  Between the ship, the crew and the views, it will be an experience I never forget.

Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received media sailing experience for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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