The Schooner Adventure was designed by the famous marine architect Thomas McManus as a “knockabout” without a bowsprit for the safety of the crew. The schooner was built in 1926, in Essex, Massachusetts, by the John F. James and Son Shipyard. She measured 121.6 feet in length, 24.5 feet in breadth, and 14 feet in depth. Her gross tonnage was 130 and her net tonnage 62. When built, Adventure was powered by a 120 horsepower engine turning a single screw in a cutout space in the rudder.
Fishing the Banks (1926-1953)
Schooner Adventure fished cod, haddock and halibut from Nantucket to Newfoundland, along the Grand Banks of the North Atlantic. Carrying a sailing rig, diesel engine, and 14 dories, Adventure was an exceptionally fast and able vessel, the ultimate evolution of the fishing schooner. Schooner Adventure was a “highliner,” the biggest moneymaker of all time, landing nearly $4 million worth of cod and halibut during her fishing career. When retired in 1953, Schooner Adventure was the last American dory fishing trawler left in the Atlantic.
In 1954, Schooner Adventure was retired from fishing and converted into a windjammer for passenger cruising, removing the engine, propeller, and prop shaft. Adventure carried passengers along the coast of Maine until 1987. Her grace, beauty, and prowess as a sailing vessel earned her the nickname “Queen of the Windjammers.”
National Historic Landmark (1988-present)
Captain Jim Sharp, who had owned Adventure since 1965, donated Adventure to the people of Gloucester, Massachusetts by way of The Gloucester Adventure Inc., a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization formed to be steward of this historic vessel. The organization’s mission was three-fold:
- Restore and preserve Adventure in perpetuity,
- Utilize Adventure as an educational resource with programming for maritime, environmental and cultural issues and
- Sail Adventure as a symbol of Gloucester’s maritime heritage.
A fully restored and operational Schooner Adventure will heighten awareness of Gloucester’s role in the development of the American Fishing Industry, the plight of the thousands of men lost at sea, and how a fleet of fast and able schooners defined a regional economy.
Adventure is nearly fully restored and has sailed in the last two Gloucester Schooner festivals. In order to be certified as a commercial passenger vessel, the most recent restoration projects have focused on installing all of the requirements of the Coast Guard’s regulations for Sub-chapter ‘T’ passenger vessels, including tankage for fresh water and grey water, piping to pump the bilges (5 compartments), piping for fire protection on deck, AC and DC electrical distribution and a modern navigation system. Since Adventure is subject to preservation restrictions, work being performed is in accordance with The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation Projects.
A team of shipwrights has reconstructed the Fo’c’sle and Galley based on research of comparable historic vessels including the Evelina M. Goulart (Essex Ship Building Museum) and the L.A.Dutton (Mystic Seaport) utilizing means and methods prevalent when Adventure was constructed in 1926. When completed, Adventure will have the look and feel of when she was new.