……..Way, haul away,
We’ll haul away together,
Away, haul away,
We’ll haul away Joe
Twenty voices sing. Forty hands pull together. A single watch leader stomps his foot on deck to keep time and slowly the sails rise. The tall ship Adventuress rides the waves of the sea again, harnessing the power of the wind, and her crew is bound for a voyage of enchantment and learning.
Seven years ago, when life decisions were just being made I found myself aboard Adventuress, a classic tall ship in the Puget Sound. My experience changed me, called attention to my individual actions and forced me to recognize that I live in an interdependent world, one that is full of opposing and overlapping interests. In the seven years that have past since I took my trip, the impact it had on me has not diminished, it has only grown.
The lessons learned on board make you think critically about real life situations, show you that you can make a difference, and ultimately hand you the responsibility of protecting the Earth. More importantly, the setting and atmosphere gives you a feeling of empowerment, the confidence to embrace wavering dreams and realize new ones.
Adventuress is a working schooner, an original, commissioned in 1913 and restored to her original glory over the years. Adventuress serves as a sailing classroom in the Puget Sound for Sound Experience, a non profit environmental organization based in Port Townsend, Washington that offers programs to youth and adults.
By fully engaging each participant in hands on learning and life aboard Adventuress, Sound Experience fulfills its mission. Everyone is capable of personal change, but on Adventuress the crew changes together in a single direction as they learn about the vulnerability of the Sound and how to rely on each other. This newfound appreciation and knowledge serves as a catalyst for action.
Bob Porto, the former Education Director of Sound Experience, emphasized that the goal of the program is to make participants realize and appreciate the role they play in the environment. “I was never so much worried about the facts that they’ll take home, but instead would hope that they’d recognize the interconnections between the stations we taught, and that they’d take home one thing that they could do to help, whether that was selecting more responsible cleaning products, or getting involved with an organization. As long as they realized that even the smallest effort could have a big impact if enough people did it” says Porto.
“I was already environmentally conscious before my experience aboard Adventuress, but my time on the ship has led me to be more intentional about recycling and conserving energy” says Jhamirah Howard, a past participant. Jhamirah also replied that the program has led to her “being involved in the political arena and lobbying for environmental protection”.
The participants who return to volunteer on Adventuress in the future, or make career decisions that are influenced by their experience aboard Adventuress are a testament to the success of the program and the hard work done by those to bring the program to the public.
Julie Ream first sailed on Adventuress as a participant and returned this past fall as a season long crew member. “I changed what I wanted to do for a career because of Adventuress” says Julie, “I changed my major in college from pre-vet to ecology”.
Julie was a perfect fit for the type of crewmembers the staff at Sound Experience look for, Porto states that the best fit is someone who is “looking for an adventure, love the outdoors, are flexible, easy-going and have a sense of humor” as well as suggesting that “enthusiasm” is crucial. Julie’s enthusiasm is clear when she told me that, “since that trip I have purposefully set my path so I could return as a crew member as I did, and stay involved with Sound Experience for if not the rest of my life, most of the next 10 years”.
Unfortunately, it is not possible for everyone to experience life aboard Adventuress, but it is definitely important that as many people as possible know about the wonderful opportunity that is available. Sound Experience is constantly increasing its outreach efforts to local groups, school and the general public and each year about 3,000 participants sail on Adventuress.
The crew members that lead programs aboard the Adventuress every year, design curriculum, perform restoration, and do all the other necessary behind-the-scenes work might not realize the impact their hard efforts have on those who benefit.
They only need to hear the words of Jhamirah Howard to know how important the program is, “I was inspired after my time aboard Adventuress. The beauty of the environment around us combined with the incredible time I had aboard the ship left me feeling completely filled with the desire to protect the environment and live in a way that respects the beauty and value of nature”.
Every sail aboard Adventuress is unique and only those who have had the privilege of sailing her truly understand her magic. I think Julie Ream expressed the feeling best,”She took part of my soul and kept it for herself, and she still has it”.