Shots of whiskey celebrate final plank of schooner Adventuress’ 5-year restoration
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Alea Robertson screws in the last plank for the schooner Adventuress’ five year renovation under the watchful eyes of (from left) Sound Experience board chair Kenneth Greff, first winter mate Zach Simonson-Bond, co-captains Daniel Evans and Joshua Berger and Haven Boatworks shipwright Brad Seamans. —Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — Five years after it began, the restoration of the 101-year-old schooner Adventuress has been completed.

The final plank was attached Friday on the rear starboard hull of the historic ship — and celebrated with shots of whiskey.

“It’s been an incredible, remarkable effort that has gone into the ship over the past five years and is the result of a lot of wonderful individuals who worked together,” said Joshua Berger, co-captain with Daniel Evans of the historic vessel, based in Port Townsend.

“We will continue to maintain this national historic landmark in perpetuity, making it relevant and resilient for years to come.

“With this milestone, I can’t help thinking about what’s next, how thousands of people will be able to take advantage of it for educations programs.”

About 300 people gathered at a “whiskey plank” celebration, a maritime tradition.

The final hull screws were attached by members of the Adventuress crew.

Shots of whiskey all around sealed the deal.

Sound Experience, which owns and operates the boat, discovered the need for a stem-to-stern restoration in 2005, according to board chair Kenneth Greff.

The $1.2 million raised for restoration represents only part of the effort, he added.

“This isn’t repeatable. You couldn’t accomplish all this with just the money,” he said.

“With all the volunteers, in-kind donations and support from the Port Townsend boating community, we were able to make this happen.”

Businesses donated materials and offered discounts, “which made it all possible,” Greff said.

“It was a result of a collective amount of energy and a collective amount of skill.”

After several years of preparation and fundraising, renovation began in 2009.

For the past five winters, the vessel has been removed from the water at the Boat Haven to have varying parts restored or replaced.

“When we got this started, there were a lot of detractors, with people questioning our sanity that we would attempt such a thing,” Greff told the assembled crowd.

“But you all made it possible, and when the ship launches again in a few weeks, the entire hull will have been restored.

“There are new masts and new drive trains accomplishing things that many said were not possible.

“This ship could have sat here like many others that we see around here, out of money and out of resources, and that would have been the end of her days.”

The Adventuress is scheduled to return to the water for its yearly “splash” April 2.

Before then, much work remains to be done, including painting, varnish, scraping and rigging, according to Zachary Simonson-Bond, the chief winter mate.

Work weekend coming up

To this end, there is one final work weekend, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 22 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 23 in the Boat Haven, for which volunteers are needed.

“There are still a lot of things left, but we will get them done,” Simonson-Bond said.

Educational programs aboard the Adventuress range, in sailing season, from three-hour tours to students living and working on the boat for several days at a time.

Now that the boat has been renewed, Greff said it is possible that educational programs and sailings could be offered on a year-round basis.

The schooner was built in East Boothbay, Maine, in 1913 for John Borden, who wanted to sail it to Alaska.

A year later, it was sold to the Port of San Francisco as a pilot ship.

Sold again in 1952, it was moved to the Pacific Northwest. The nonprofit Sound Experience, based in Port Townsend, has operated it since 1989.

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

For information about programs or to volunteer for the work weekend, phone 360-379-0438 or visit


Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or

Last modified: March 08. 2014 5:37PM
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