If you were lucky enough to see Gloucester’s Schooner Adventure sail in or out of Gloucester Harbor over the weekend, you were not only looking at a restored ship and a true vision of this seaport’s maritime heritage.
You were also looking at a very real source of Gloucester civic pride. And you will get a golden chance to see it again, when this sailing piece of history out of America’s Oldest Seaport takes on an increasingly lead role in this weekend’s Gloucester Schooner Festival.
The Adventure, of course, actually participated in last year’s Schooner Fest, but not under full sail. And its 5,500 square feet of sail indeed adds some of the finishing touches to its magnificence.
The Schooner Adventure project has, over the last two decades, proven sometimes controversial and more than a little exasperating since the city accepted the ship as a gift back in 1988, then launched a $5 million restoration project in 1994.
But it’s clear that it was worth the wait, and — given that more than $3 million of the still-ongoing fund-raising project has come through various public and private grants — worth the effort.
It’s unfortunate that the late historian, writer and civic activist Joe Garland, who passed away in 2011, didn’t get to see the Adventure again as it appeared on Page 1 of Monday’s Times. For Garland and the Adventure’s last regular captain, Jim Sharp, spearheaded the restoration of the 1926 vintage schooner, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994.
Yet extensive credit must also go out to Joanne Main, the executive director of Schooner Adventure, to Beth Welin, the Adventure’s education director, and to all of those who have kept the schooner’s legacy and restoration project alive — including Jeff Thomas, grandson of the Adventure’s original captain of the same name.
We extend our thanks to all for their perseverance, for their unfailing commitment — and for giving Gloucester an entirely new meaning to the term “spirit of Adventure.”
The spirit aboard this schooner is Gloucester’s spirit as well.