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August 26, 2013

A full-sail Adventure

Gloucester's historic schooner ready for festival race

It took nearly 20 people just to raise the main sail, which measures 2,100 square feet.

But for the first time in nearly two decades, the 122-foot Schooner Adventure sailed in Gloucester Harbor Saturday with its 5,500 total square feet of sail. The Adventure also is poised to not only head the Parade of Sail in this coming weekend’s Gloucester Schooner Festival, but will join in the festival’s races thus reviving a piece of the city’s maritime history.

The Schooner Adventure, built in 1926 in Essex, has served as a dory fishing vessel, a passenger vessel and now ultimately as a community resource. It was among the most lucrative fishing vessels in its day.

”The Schooner Adventure is the last of the ‘Gloucestermen,’ the vessels immortalized by Rudyard Kipling in his classic Captains Courageous,” wrote the late Joseph Garland, a local historian, civic activist and author. “The Adventure is also an icon of our nation’s fishing industry and Gloucester’s 390-year heritage as America’s oldest fishing port.”

It was Garland and the schooner’s last captain, Jim Sharp, who spearheaded the return of the vessel to her homeport.

The schooner was given to the city in 1988, just in time for the Gloucester Schooner Festival, during which it won the coveted Mayor’s Cup.

It won again in 1991, but by 1994, the schooner’s continuing state of deterioration made it necessary to begin a $5 million full restoration — a project funded by the city and through private support. To date, more than $4.5 million has been spent on the project, with more than $3 million drawn from various grants.

Most of that restoration is now complete, and the Adventure will race in the Mayor’s Cup during the Gloucester Schooner Festival races next Sunday. She also will lead the Parade of Sail — this time with her sails up again. Her captain will be Capt. Greg Bailey, who recently served as captain of the tall ship Amistad.

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