National Park Service
Return to Maritime home page
Maritime Landmarks
Back to Large Vessel Landmarks Main Page
Back to Landmarks Main Page
Schooner Adventuress
National Historic Landmark Study
by James P. Delgado, 1989
Designated April 11, 1989

Present and Historic Physical Appearance

Deck view of Adventuress as a San Francisco Pilot schoner. National Maritime Museum Photo, 1932
The 1913 schooner Adventuress, a historic vessel actively sailing and engaged in sail training, is moored when not at sea at Lake Union Drydock in Seattle, Washington. Owned and operated by Youth Adventure, Inc., Adventuress is officially registered at the Port of Seattle.

Adventuress as Built and Operated

As built in 1913, Adventuress is 85.5 feet in length, with a 21.4-foot beam and a 9.8-foot depth of hold. Adventuress is registered at 78 gross tons and 42 net tons, with a displacement of 98.2 long tons. [1] Built heavily with oak frames and deck beams and planked in Douglas Fir, Adventuress was constructed with iron knees, which she retains. The vessel's staunch construction was necessary for her intended use as a private hunting vessel in the Arctic. Built with fine, fast lines, Adventuress is an excellent example of her designer, naval architect, Bowdoin B. Crowinshield's work, with a fine run marked by "short, straight keels with marked drag; long, light counters; and long forward overhangs." The cutaway profile of Adventuress is typical of Crowninshield's "fisherman profile" yachts. [2]

Adventuress' two masts were rigged to make her a topmast schooner; she carried 4,571-sq. ft. of sail. In addition to her sails, the schooner also carried a single 80-h.p. auxiliary three-cylinder gasoline Standard engine which drove her single screw. A 1,400-gallon fuel tank was installed in the vessel for the engine. Additional machinery installed in 1913 was described at the time as "electric lights...supplied by an Edison storage battery, charged by a 5-h.p. engine and an Eck generator, direct- connected....a refrigerating machine and an engine mounted under [the] deck forward to operate the windlass." [3]

While operating as a San Francisco pilot schooner between 1914 and 1950, Adventuress underwent some modification. These changes included downrigging the vessel to a baldheaded Bermuda-rigged schooner, removing her bowsprit to make her a "knockabout" type, replacing the foremast with a larger, lower stick with less rake, and constructing an open cockpit around the helm to protect the crew from pooping seas. The engine was replaced with a 140-h.p. Atlas-Imperial Diesel. [4] In later years the watertank area forward was enclosed to create a low deckhouse set into the deck.

Adventuress' Present Condition and Appearance

Adventuress' distinctive lines and profile remain unaltered, as do the basic characteristics of her construction. In recent years modifications have been made to the vessel to continue her active sailing life and to facilitate her use as a sail training vessel by her owners, Youth Adventure, Inc. The area below decks was stripped to the ceiling and rebuilt; 18 berths aft and 12 forward and a modern galley and pantry have been built, and 4 watertight bulkheads were added to meet U.S. Coast Guard certification standards. The Atlas-Imperial engine has been replaced with a Gray Marine 671 marine engine. While rebuilt, the general layout of the spaces below decks approximates the original as-built layout of Adventuress. Original ceiling planking and iron hanging knees are visible throughout belowdecks. Minor repair and replacement has taken place above decks, including reconstruction of the counter, but all replacement has been in-kind and in conformity with original lines.

The vessel's original rig has been restored to its 1913 topmast schooner rig based on published plans in the Rudder and historic photographs. While the deck has been altered from her pilot appearance with the removal of the protective cockpit, the original wheelbox and patent steering gear, wheel, binnacle, and trunk are in place, as are decorative cast brass elements such as ornate brass ventilators and bronze spiderbands. The original windlass remains on the forecastle deck. Another prominent feature is the ship's bell, which is engraved "S.F. Bar Pilots 1915 Sch. Adventuress." While modified on deck and remodeled below, Adventuress retains excellent integrity of hull design, function and form, and fair integrity of accouterment and layout.


1. See U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Navigation Annual List of Merchant Vessels of the United States.... (Washington, D.C., 1915) p. 198. The particulars of the vessel remain unchanged. See United States Department of Transportation, U.S. Coast Guard, Merchant Vessels of the United States, 1968 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1968) p. 29.

2. Howard I. Chapelle, The American Fishing Schooners, 1825-1935 (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., Inc., 1973) p. 244.

3. "Auxiliary Schooner Adventuress," The Rudder, October 1913, p. 246-247.

4. Sam M. Hawkins, "The San Francisco Pilot Boats," Pacific Motor Boat, March 1936, p. 15.

Statement of Significance

The 1913 schooner yacht and pilot boat Adventuress is an operating historic vessel retaining integrity of design, form, and function. Adventuress is significant as an excellent example of the "fisherman profile" designed yachts of Bowdoin B. Crowninshield, a noted early 20th century American naval architect whose work was influential in the development of American yachts and fishing schooners. Built for the purpose of private Arctic exploration and hunting, Adventuress was acquired by the San Francisco Bar Pilots in 1914 and worked from that year until 1952 as a pilot boat on the San Francisco Bar. Only two San Francisco Bar Pilot boats survive, California ex-Zodiac (1924), currently undergoing restoration and modification, and Adventuress which is both first in service and the older of the two vessels. Adventuress is significant through her association with the important role of the pilots which guided maritime traffic across the treacherous San Francisco Bar into the internationally-important and busy port of San Francisco.

Construction and Early Career of Adventuress

Ship's Bell. Photo by James Delgado, NPS, 1988.
Adventuress was designed by Bowdoin B. Crowninshield, a Boston naval architect best known for his America's cup defender- candidate Independence. According to maritime historian Howard I. Chapelle, Crowninshield gained national reknown not only for his yachts but also for commercial vessel design:

He was the designer of the only seven-masted schooner ever built, the Thomas W. Lawson, and turned out plans for a number of other commercial schooner designs, including three- masters and one five-master. In addition, beginning in 1900 he produced seventeen fishing schooner designs from which at least thirty vessels were built.... The Crowninshield influence was shown in the shape of fishing schooner profiles: short, straight keels with marked drag; long, light counters; and long forward overhangs.... Many of the Crowninshield-designed schooners were built for Boston fishing vessel owners, whose fleets were in a period of expansion at this time. He also produced designs for the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery. [1]

Based on his wide experience with fishing vessels, Crowninshield used the same basic form in his later yachts, and "the Crowninshield profile became known as the `fisherman profile' in yachts of the 1920s." [2]

Crowninshield employed the "fisherman profile" design in 1913 when commissioned by Chicago condensed milk magnate John Borden to draw up plans for a schooner yacht for Arctic hunting expeditions. Laid down at the Rice Brothers' Yard in East Boothbay, Maine, the vessel was completed by the fall of 1913 at a cost of $50,000.00. Christened Adventuress, the schooner sailed and motored to Seattle, Washington, by way of the Straits of Magellan. There, she was to sail in May 1914 for Wrangel Island "if conditions search of big game." [3] Borden made one voyage to Alaska in Adventuress before selling her at Seattle to the San Francisco Bar Pilots' Association in 1914.

The San Francisco Bar Pilots

The port of San Francisco, which boomed into prosperity as principal American port on the Pacific during the California gold rush and retained its primacy well into the 20th century, was marked by a narrow and treacherous entrance and a shallow bar three miles off the Golden Gate. Beginning in 1849 pilot vessels began service on the bar, and legislative action in 1849, 1850, and 1852, franchised pilot lines and provided for a board of pilot commissioners. In the 1860s the various companies merged to form the San Francisco Bar Pilots' Association. The rugged conditions of the San Francisco Bar wrecked many pilot boats, eight vessels being lost between 1849 and 1914. The 19th pilot vessel to be acquired was Adventuress, purchased to replace the pilot boat Pathfinder which had wrecked at Point Diablo in the fog on January 14, 1914. Brought to San Francisco, Adventuress remained in service as pilot boat "15" from 1914 to 1952. [4] In March 1936, the typical routine of Adventuress and her two sailing mates, the pilot boats Gracie S. and California, was described:

Three beautiful schooners make up the fleet of the San Francisco Bar Pilots. Two of them-- the California and the Gracie S.--are known as station ships and their job is to alternate on the sea patrol, five days out and five days in. The third boat, the Adventuress, shuttles back and forth, also always on call, taking out pilots or bringing back pilots or carrying supplies or needed equipment. The boats are under sail constantly except when powering in and out of the Gate. [5]

Photo courtesy of Youth Adventure Inc., 1986.
Retired and sold in 1952, Adventuress passed through several private owners before being acquired by the present owners, Youth Adventure, Inc., who operate the vessel as a sailing school offering training for youths and adults in sailing, safety, and "other constructive sea-oriented activities," keeping Adventuress active and alive as she nears her 75th birthday.


1. Howard I. Chapelle, The American Fishing Schooners, 1825-1935 (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., Inc., 1973) pp. 244-245.

2. Ibid., p. 221.

3. "Auxiliary Schooner Adventuress," The Rudder, October 1913, pp. 246-247.

4. List of San Francisco Bar Pilot Boats, (n.d.) manuscript at the National Maritime Museum, San Francisco; discussion with Capt. Robert Daly, S.F. Bar Pilot (retired) and Bar Pilot Historian, July 1, 1988.

5. Sam M. Hawkins, "The San Francisco Pilot Boats," Pacific Motor Boat, March 1936, p. 15.

Return to Maritime home page

Last Modified: Mon, Jan 31 2002 2:56:48 pm EDT

Privacy & Disclaimer

Parknet logo