After years of restoration, the knockabout schooner Adventure will lead the Schooner Festival’s boat parade for the first time in over two decades.
On Sunday, the Adventure will take the lead in the Festival’s Parade of Sail for the first time since the early 1990’s. For Jeff Thomas, who’ll be onboard, it will be his second “maiden voyage” into Gloucester Harbor on the schooner Adventure
Thomas, whose grandfather commissioned the Adventure back in 1926, had stood on deck in 1988 when the old schooner sailed into Gloucester harbor as a gift to the city.
On Sunday, Thomas said, he’ll be on deck thinking about his father Gordon Thomas, who wrote “Fast and Able,” a book about Gloucester’s fishing schooners. He was a man like Jeff Thomas, enamored with schooners and dory-men.
The Adventure won’t be under sail on Sunday. It will be driven by a newly installed engine, as the sails are still being woven. But, when it does, said Thomas, the boat will really come alive.
“She becomes a living thing just like any sailing vessel,” Thomas said.
It was Thomas’ grandfather, Capt. Jeff Thomas, who commissioned the Adventure in 1926 and sailed the vessel until he died in 1934. From there, the Adventure went from Gloucester to Boston under the command of Capt. Leo Heinze until 1953, when it became a windjammer in Camden, Maine, captained by Jim Sharp.
Sharp gave the vessel to Gloucester in 1988.
“He had a love affair with that vessel when she was a windjammer,” said Thomas.
Sharp will take the helm of the Adventure again on Sunday.
This year’s Schooner Festival isn’t the first in which the Adventure has sailed, said Joanne Souza, the director of The Gloucester Adventure, the nonprofit corporation that’s restoring and running the schooner. Souza said the Adventure took part in around five festivals before undergoing renovations.
Souza said the old schooner won three of the schooner races, too.
The Adventure went back into the water Wednesday, after spending time in drydock at the Gloucester Marine Railways. While up on land, crews put an engine and a propeller in the old schooner and pulled the masts for inspection.
With the schooner back in the harbor, crews set the two nearly 90-foot masts back in place, and shored up the rest of the ship. It’ll travel across the harbor to the Coast Guard Station for Mayor Carolyn Kirk’s Schooner Festival reception.
The black-hulled, 122-foot long Adventure is the last of its kind, said Steve Hall, a boardmember of the managing non-profit. He watched crews set the masts back in the ship at the Railways Wednesday. The Adventure, he said, is the last knockabout dory fishing schooner.
As a fishing vessel, it landed around $4 million in cod and halibut. It’s cost about that much to put the vessel back together including new decking, planking, sails, and more work to come, said Souza.
Thomas said the Adventure wouldn’t be in the festival this weekend without Souza’ hard work. Souza became the non-profit’s director in 2008.
“This is as close as she’s been in a long time to (going out) in the boat parade,” Hall said.
Souza said she and a few others decided at the start of last year to push hard to get the Adventure ready for the Schooner Festival. With that push, she said, things started coming back together.
“(We said) we can do this, let’s put our heads together and just do it,” Souza said.
After the festival, the nonprofit will put the forecastle, fish hold, and captain’s quarters together inside the hull, and three watertight bulkheads between them. Next year, the Adventure will sail in the Schooner Festival, Souza said.
Even with work left to do, Hall said he’s glad to see the vessel back in the water after 15 years. “We’ve just about put her back together,” he said.
Steven Fletcher can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3455, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@StevenGDT