Restoration of the Schooner

When Adventure was built in 1926 in the salt marshes of Essex, MA, no one thought that the schooner would survive into the next century. Indeed, only a handful of the more than 4,000 wooden schooners built in Essex exist today. Nearly all of them disappeared one by one: many were lost on the stormy seas of the North Atlantic, others ran aground, still others sank after collisions with another vessels, some were sunk by hostile enemy fire during the World Wars, some caught fire and burned to the waterline, and others were simply abandoned to rot away after outliving their economic usefulness.

Despite countless storms, a collision, running aground, and other mishaps, Adventure was one of the lucky survivors. Yet, the many decades of harsh exposure to punishing conditions took its toll on the old schooner, weakening Adventure‘s oaken frames, deck beams, and other structural timbers. To restore Adventure’s structural integrity, a long-term restoration process began shortly after the historic schooner was donated to the people of Gloucester by Captain Jim Sharp of Camden, Maine in 1988, however, a lack of funds prevented further restoration work until 1997. Today, the extensive restoration of Adventure is more than 70% completed at a cost of $2,500,000. All restoration work has been in accordance with The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation Projects. Furthermore, a legal Preservation Restriction for the Adventure was filed with the Massachusetts Historical Commission in 1997.

We have finished planking the quarterdeck and installing the Captain’s Cabin and deck hatches, supported by a $100,000 preservation grant from The Lowe’s Corporation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and a $350,000 preservation grant from The Dusky Foundation. Previous major funding for Adventure’s preservation has included a $247,000 Save America’s Treasures grant from the National Park Service, a $250,000 allocation from the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, and $250,000 in preservation grants from the Massachusetts Historical Commission. These major restoration grants along with donations from hundreds of individuals saved the Adventure from the fate of most of her sister ships.

In 2010 Schooner Adventure moved across the harbor to our new home at the Gloucester Marine Railways at Rocky Neck. The vessel is berthed on the North Pier permitting Schooner Adventure to have continued public access allowing us to offer dockside programming and be viewed from all over the city.

The City of Gloucester’s Community Preservation Act funded the construction of a new oak barrel windlass using the original gears, which will be used to raise the vessel’s 1000 lb anchor. A $100,000 grant from the Lynch Foundation has provided funding for the reinstallation of the original steering gear and Stoddard wheel.  These funds have also provided for the construction of seventy feet of floating dock and a ramp system which has allowed Adventure to be United States Coast Guard certified as a Moored Attraction Vessel.  Once more visitors are able to walk Adventure’s decks.

The Schooner Adventure, has been awarded a $250,000 1:1 matching grant from The Dusky Foundation. This grant provides a major step forward in helping the Adventure organization gain the momentum needed to finish the restoration of the vessel and realize the goal of becoming a maritime, environmental and educational resource for future generations. We not only plan to match this funding but are prepared to use this generous grant as the first major donation of our 1.25 Million dollar Capital Campaign to ”Sail Adventure Forever”

Restoration Timeline

  • 1990 — the bow and stem were rebuilt.
  • 1991 — a major portion of the port side was restored.
  • 1997-1998 — virtually all of the starboard side was restored.
  • 2000 — a section of the port side aft of the break in the deck was rebuilt.
  • 2002-2004 — the remaining sections of the port side, as well as the fo’c’sle ceilings, and foredeck were restored.
  • 2004-2006 — the horn timber, rudder post, stern, and quarterdeck were restored
  • 2010 – steering gear
  • 2011 – windlass rebuilt and new access floats and ramps
  • 2012 - shrouds restored; engine bed, bulkhead foundations, part of the ballast and engine installed
  • 2013 – watertight bulkheads, sole, rigging, sails & spars, electrical & plumbing systems
  • 2014 – fo’c’sle, galley & main cabin
Restoration Timeline Illustration

Restoration Illustration

Once fully restored, Adventure will return to active sailing as a platform for maritime educational programs. The schooner will be operated at sea, primarily along the New England coast, as a living monument to Massachusetts’ fishing heritage. As such, Adventure is important not only to Gloucester, but also to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and all of America. While Adventure has national significance in terms of America’s maritime history, she has particular importance to the community of Cape Ann. The sight of Adventure under sail cannot help but connect the people of Gloucester to their own history. She’s a living monument to the over 5,000 fishermen who sailed out of Gloucester and never returned. It is imperative that she be restored and returned to active sailing, so that future generations can experience what the life of a Gloucester fisherman felt like and meant. If Gloucester’s history is to be understood, it should be viewed in large measure through the eyes of a fisherman.