'Flash chantey' marks Adventuress centennial splash (**With Video**)
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Vern Olsen, on accordion, provides the instrumental guidance for the “flash chantey” Friday in honor of the 100th anniversary of the schooner Adventuress, in dry dock at upper right. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — About 150 people took an early afternoon break Friday to participate in what was billed as the first-ever “flash chantey.”

The event commemorated a date exactly 100 years ago when the schooner Adventuress, which is now based in Port Townsend, first splashed into the water in East Boothbay, Maine, on Feb. 1. 1913.

“We wanted to celebrate 100 years of the Adventuress and thought there was no better way to do that than to do something completely ridiculous,” said Catherine Collins, executive director of Sound Experience, the nonprofit that owns and operates the vessel.

The recording of the singing of the song (called both a "chantey" and a "shanty" by the group) — an obscure call-and-response tune called “Paddy Lay Back" — can be seen and heard below (or on YouTube at http://tinyurl.com/bzelkqt)

The idea for the event evolved from the “flash mob” phenomenon, in which people gather in a predetermined place to perform a short task and then immediately disperse.

On Friday, the crowd began singing “Paddy Lay Back” at 12:30 p.m. at the Adventuress' dry dock in the Boat Haven and finished off the chantey's few verses about five minutes later.

Afterward, singers hung around long enough for free bowls of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

Those who could not attend were encouraged to record “Paddy Lay Back” wherever they were that day and post it on Facebook at “Sound Experience Aboard the Schooner Adventuress.”

Before the song, Collins and others spoke to the crowd about the 100th anniversary, saying it is important to maintain the vessel as an educational resource.

There was a bit of levity in the form of bogus telegrams that were read to the crowd prior to singing.

The first, supposedly from Gov. Jay Inslee and former Gov. Chris Gregoire, offered congratulations about the milestone, while another fake telegram, purportedly from President Barack Obama, stated, “Yes, the Adventuress can.”

“John Kennedy” offered “ask not what the Adventuress can do for you; ask what you can do for the Adventuress.”

“Mohandas Ghandi” thanked those working on the vessel for their hard work — “now get back to it” — while “Buddha” offered a long “om.”

Wayne Chimenti, a former Adventuress captain, read the “telegrams.”

As the crowd dispersed, Collins said she was overwhelmed by the turnout.

“What a response,” she said.

“I can't think of a more appropriate way to celebrate the Adventuress' historic splash.

“We made history with the world's first flash chantey, and the postive reaction to the Adventuress never ceases to amaze me.”

The Adventuress is now in dry dock. Among the tasks slated for completion is replacement of the mast and hull timbers.

This year's renovation represents the fourth of five phases of a $900,000 renovation project that Collins said will prepare the vessel for an additional 100 years of use.

The Adventuress was built by John Borden with the purpose of sailing to Alaska but instead was sold a year later to the Port of San Francisco as a pilot ship.

It was sold again in 1952 and was moved to the Pacific Northwest.

The nonprofit Sound Experience, based in Port Townsend, has operated the schooner for educational purposes since 1989.

In recent years, an average of 5,000 people annually have participated in its sailing programs, with that many again visiting the ship in port.

For more information or to volunteer, phone 360-379-0438 or visit www.soundexp.org.


Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 03. 2013 1:20AM
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