Our Stories

“In South Australia I was born, heave away, haul away

In South Australia, ’round Cape Horn, we’re bound for South Australia…”

Aboard Adventuress, a shanty is sung to keep time as the sailors heave and haul to raise the main mast. The sun shines warm on the faces of the passengers as they watch the land recede and the waters of the Puget Sound surround the grand vessel. On this beautiful late summer day, a few lucky souls from Visual Options were invited for a sailing aboard the century-old Tall Ship.

Passengers assist deckhands with the raising of the masts.

Constructed in 1913 for John Borden, the 133-foot gaff-rigged schooner was designed to carry crews to the north Atlantic in search of whale specimens. Borden was an explorer and a scientist whose expedition was commissioned by the Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately Adventuress was deterred by the ice-encrusted waters of the northern Pacific and never completed the expedition. The vessel returned to the safe harbors of San Francisco, where she was sold and began operating as a workboat.

According to Taylor Jackson, crew member on the Adventuress, the ship was brought to the waters of the Puget Sound sometime in 1952 and has remained there for over half a century. Adventuress was eventually restored and in 1989 was declared a National Historic Landmark.

Over the years, the ship has survived two separate fires, both of which resulted in the scuttling, or intentional sinking of the ship, in order to extinguish the flames.

Today, the Tall Ship is owned by the nonprofit organization Sound Experience and offers sailing lessons for school children, youth groups, as well as chartered sailings for the general public. Their mission is to “educate, inspire, and empower” members of the community.

Taylor Jackson, educator and deckhand aboard Adventuress, shares a brief history of the historic vessel.

On today’s sailing, passengers mill about on the upper deck, inhaling the fresh, salty scent of the sea. They are unaware of the treasured object hidden snugly beneath the floorboards of the bunks below deck.

A year ago, Visual Options learned of the Adventuress and a smelly situation with their under-deck black water tank. A situation that was quite… unpleasant.

Captain Gordon, or “Bucko Billy” as he is known, said: “The tank is below the floorboards here, which is where we bunk, so you can imagine the smell; it was pretty bad.”

The tank itself is constructed of HDPE and took months of careful calculations to design, build, and finally install. Not only did the tank need to fit into the confined space below the lower deck, but through the narrow water-tight doors of the inner vessel.

The Visual Options crew was lucky enough to get a private tour of the lower deck, including the area where the holding tank now lives.  “As you can see, it was a very tight fit,” the Captain said.

Captain Gordon explains how each fitting had to be fabricated to precise specifications in order to clear the narrow space below the decking.

The Captain was determined to find a solution. Knowing there was a need, and how Sound Experience strongly supports the community, Visual Options decided to donate the much needed holding tank. Captain Gordon worked with Jon Sawyer, a fabricator at Visual Options, who measured and remeasured the exact specifications that would be needed to replace the porous black water tank.

There are few luxuries aboard the 101’ of deck space, but the crew is grateful for the upgraded amenity.

“Because the tank was porous, we would say, “Poor us!” joked one crew member.

It was our pleasure to design, build, and donate what is now a part of an historical landmark. Thank you to the Captain and crew, and the whole team at Sound Experience for a sailing adventure we won’t soon forget.

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