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National Historic Landmark Study
by Kevin Foster, 1993
Designated April 19, 1994
Present and Historic Physical Appearance
Adventure is the last example afloat of a knockabout style schooner in the United States. Boston fish dealer and vessel designer Thomas F. McManus designed the first round "spoon" bow hull form in 1898, with the schooner Juniata, inspired by advanced yacht designs of the period. The schooner had a short keel inclined upwards from the stern, long overhangs at bow and stern, a large amount of deadrise, and a gentle curve to the bilge. The McManus hull form was very maneuverable, fast, able to counterbalance a large rig, yet slack-bilged enough to give an easy motion that would not endanger the large rig.
The hull is constructed of white oak planking and hard pine inner ceiling over sawn oak double frames trunneled together. Heavy structural members are fastened with iron spikes and drift pins; trunnels were used for the remainder. A heavy oak clamp runs around the inside of the frames above the ceiling on which the deck beams rest. White pine waterways cover the upper ends of the frames, serving also to hold the deck beams securely to the clamp.
The hull was divided into four watertight compartments when Adventure was fishing. The forward compartment was the forecastle for the crew, and aft of that the galley, separated by a bulkhead from the fish hold. The majority of the crew berthed here in wooden bunks fitted along the sides of the space. The next space aft, the fish hold, was designed with many bays separated by light planking opening into a central passage. Vertical stanchions between each bay held removable boards, so that as salted or iced fish filled the bays, the boards would be added to help hold the preserved fish in place as the ship moved. Aft of the fish hold was the engine room. The aftermost space was the main cabin, home to the captain and five other men. It was the most elaborately finished, with bunks, individual lockers, and cypress and fiddleback maple paneling.
The area below decks has seen the majority of changes to the vessel since she was launched. The forward part of the forecastle has been partitioned off for use as a bosun's locker for sails, line, blocks, and other gear. The remainder of the forecastle is little changed from its appearance when new. The wood-burning iron cook stove has been replaced with a similar model and the berths have been removed. The fish hold and engine room were modified to carry passengers in small cabins on each side of the central passage. In effect, passengers replaced fish in this adaptive reuse. The main cabin aft is now accessible through an opening in the bulkhead to the fish hold, allowing one to walk nearly the length of the vessel below decks.
The deck is not level from end to end, but rather is raised slightly from a point forward of the mainmast, where the great beam crosses the deck. The decking is three-inch thick white pine except along the thicker four-inch strongback along the centerline, which gives longitudinal strength to the hull structure.
The original Gloucester-built wooden log and iron anchor windlass is located forward of the foremast. The forecastle companionway is immediately behind the foremast and leads below by means of a steep ladder. Aft of that is the galley skylight, then an additional companionway for direct access to the passenger cabins. Further aft, a skylight replaced the original fish hatch. The main cabin trunk extends across most of the deck, with a companionway in the middle of the rear side.
The iron ships wheel and steering gear, cast by A. P. Stoddart of Gloucester, are located behind the cabin trunk. The wheel moves a worm gear which turns the rudder. A heavy wooden trunk covers the steering gear. The ship's compass is visible to the helmsman through a sliding door in the binnacle, which is built into the rear of the main cabin to starboard of the companionway. A steel pipe boat davit is mounted over Adventure's stern for the motor-driven pushboat used to ease the schooner into and out of her berth.
The sailing rig of a knockabout schooner is finely balanced so that a small working crew can sail her while the fishermen work their trawls. The two masts are each supported by three shrouds to port and starboard, designed to prevent sideways motion. A single backstay on each side, and the forestay, maintopmast stay, and triatic stays support the masts fore and aft.
The fore and main sails each set from gaffs--spars sliding up and down the masts--and are laced to mast hoops and the booms. The jib is also laced to a boom at its foot. Four more staysails make up the remainder of the suit of sails. The forwardmost sail is the loose footed "jumbo" which is set from the jumbo stay. A triangular maintopsail can be set with a four-sided "fisherman" staysail from the mastheads. A gaff topsail could be set above the mainsail. The sailing rig was reduced during Adventure's fishing career but was enlarged when passenger cruising commenced. Presently, she sails with the jib, jumbo, foresail, mainsail, maintopsail, and a main topmast staysail. No fisherman staysail is carried.
CHANGES OVER TIME
Captain Jeffrey Thomas modernized Adventure in 1931 or 1932 to keep up with competition; a 180 horsepower Fairbanks-Morse engine replaced the original 120. A pilothouse was erected on deck over the wheel and rear of the cabin, and a riding sail substituted for the mainsail and main boom. Later, the owners installed a still larger 230 horsepower engine. The pilothouse was replaced in 1939 after a huge sea carried away the wheel house and two crewmen, William Nolan and Alexander Muise. Other repairs included: major hull work after a grounding at Sheet Harbor, Nova Scotia, in December 1933; a new rudder after losing one at sea; work on the bow following a collision on March 20, 1943; work on the stern quarter following a second collision in 1943; and hull repairs after springing a leak at sea in 1948. 
The present condition of Adventure is quite good although routine hull inspection and repairs are needed. Unlike many museum ships, Adventure goes sailing regularly with an all-volunteer crew led by a professional captain. All repairs under the present owner have been carried out to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation.
1. U.S. Department of Commerce, Merchant Vessels of the United States (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1929) pp. 220-221.
2. Gordon W. Thomas, Fast and Able: Life Stories of Great Fishing Vessels (Gloucester, Massachusetts: Gloucester 350th Anniversary Celebration, 1973) pp. 195-198; and Joseph Garland with Captain Jim Sharp, Adventure, Queen of Windjammers (Camden, Maine: Down East Books, 1985) p. 106.
Statement of Significance
Adventure is one of only two surviving knockabout fishing schooners, the last and most developed type of thousands of fishing schooners. Built in Essex, Massachusetts, in 1926 by the John F. James and Son Shipyard, the schooner fished on the North Atlantic banks until 1954. Although she was built at the end of the fishing schooner era, when reliable and economical diesel engines had begun to replace sail power to propel fishing vessels, Adventure represents the last group of vessels built in America for deep water sailing. She now regularly sails the Massachusetts coast keeping her name and tradition alive.
The preceding statement is based on the more detailed statements that follow.
FISHING IN THE NEW WORLD
The fishing industry of the United States, while spread throughout the nation on every large lake, waterway, and coast, was born in New England waters over 400 years ago. Since then, the nation's largest fleet of fishing vessels hailed from the fishing ports of Massachusetts, particularly Gloucester. These fishing fleets worked the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and other fishing grounds of the Western North Atlantic frequented by cod, haddock, hake, halibut, mackerel, herring, cusk, pollock, skate, catfish, whiting, monk-fish, wolf-fish, and lumpfish.
By the sixteenth century French and Basque fishing vessels visited yearly the waters of what later became Canada's maritime provinces. They sent home large fleets of vessels loaded to capacity with preserved cod. Within another century the Dutch and English were fishing on the Grand Banks as well. Some Europeans established settlements near the fishing banks to dry, and later salt, the catch on shore. 
The establishment of communities ashore allowed the English, Dutch, and French to force the Basques and other fishermen of the Bay of Biscay away from the most favorable fishing grounds in the New World. England, in particular, used its shore facilities as well as taking advantage of wars among fishing rivals, to establish trade. The first commodity was fish, traded to Spanish and Mediterranean ports. Captain John Smith erected stages and fish-flakes on Monhegan Island in 1614 while exploring the coast. Smith sent one ship each to England and Spain, earning a small fortune. 
Later still, some fishermen settled permanently on these New England sites. During the English Civil War, London merchants invested in New England fisheries to counteract the West Country dominance of the Newfoundland fisheries. This influx of capital allowed the building of bigger boats and the exploitation of new fishing grounds. The first of these New England settlements was at what is now Gloucester, Massachusetts. Fishermen built simple homes and wooden drying racks for cod, called fish flakes, on a point near the harbor. The settlement failed after several years and the fishermen went on to found Salem, but the advantages of Gloucester harbor to fishermen had been established. 
FISHING VESSEL DEVELOPMENT
Vessels bound for the fishing grounds from New England usually had an easy down-wind voyage out but had to sail close to the wind on the return trip. Thus fishing from the Massachusetts coast favored a weatherly fore-and-aft rigged vessel over a square rigged one. Colonists favored partially-decked shallops for inshore fishing and decked ketches and barks for voyages to farther fishing grounds. Ships carried the salted or dried fish to European or West Indian markets. 
Early colonial shallops were modified in the new country. Chebacco boats, named for the town now called Essex where they were developed, became the predominant type in the New England offshore fisheries during the eighteenth century. Their greatest advance over their forebears was the replacement of spritsails with the schooner rig which had more numerous and smaller sails, requiring fewer men to handle. The new vessels, harvesting the sea's bounty, made fishing New England's most important industry. 
The schooner rig was ideal for fishing in the North Atlantic. Hull forms continued to evolve but the rig remained essentially the same for the last 150 years of commercial fishing under sail. Shipbuilders developed various hull designs, known as dogbodies, heeltappers, and pinkies during the early years of the nineteenth century. 
These schooners proved their worth but were supplanted by larger, shallower, faster boats called clipper schooners during the 1850s.  No examples of any variation of these early schooners survives afloat. It is possible that good examples may be preserved as shipwrecks underwater offshore, where so many fishermen and vessels remain.
The shallow-draft, broad-beam, heavily-sparred clipper schooners predominated into the 1880s but were too unstable for safe winter fishing. In the wake of heavy losses they were replaced in turn by a more stable, deeper-draft hull form during the 1880s. This hull form found a popular manifestation in the "Fredonia" model of the 1890s, as represented by the National Historic Landmark vessels Ernestina, (ex-Effie M. Morrissey) and Lettie G. Howard.
The losses of entire vessels declined with the introduction of the new hull form, but losses of men to accidents aboard ship continued. Thomas F. McManus designed the knockabout bow, in 1902, to eliminate the bowsprit. The bowsprit was sometimes called the "widowmaker" because fishermen sent out to furl the jib were often lost by slipping off the icy foot ropes or being swept off by head seas. In the knockabout design, McManus increased the length of the bow and changed the proportions of the rig, allowing fishermen to handle a schooner's headsails without leaving the deck. Adventure is the larger offshore model of only two remaining examples of a knockabout fishing schooner afloat.
McManus was responsible for introducing the yacht-like round (convex) bow form with long cutaway forefoot and long stern overhang. His Juniata of 1898 introduced the form, which he modified in various ways during the next 25 years. The majority of New England fishing schooners built during this time were either designed by McManus, who produced over 400 designs, or reflected his influence. The fishing schooner type represented by Adventure is among the most seaworthy ever to fish in the stormy North Atlantic.
Auxiliary gasoline engines were first introduced in inshore fishing schooners in 1900, and after 1910, safer and more economical crude-oil engines became available. By the time Adventure was built, auxiliary engines were routinely installed in new schooners. When powerful diesel engines became available during the late 1920s, many fishing schooners were converted to allow them to compete with the engine-powered beam trawlers, called draggers. The Diesel engine spelled the end of sail. Those schooners that survived the 1930s did so by adapting to the new order or finding a new trade. 
THE GLOUCESTER/ESSEX RELATIONSHIP
The two Cape Ann communities of Gloucester and Essex enjoyed a symbiotic relationship for hundreds of years. Essex built most of the ships that sailed from Gloucester. The relationship was a close one. Because of the large capital outlay required to build a fishing schooner, most were owned by groups of investors, usually including the shipbuilder. Shipbuilder capitalists became partners, as well as suppliers, to the fishing industry. 
THE BUILDING OF ADVENTURE
Adventure was built by the John F. James and Son shipyard in Essex, Massachusetts, for Captain Jeffrey Thomas of Gloucester. The James yard was one of two shipyards still building wooden boats remaining in Essex, down from more than a dozen fifty years earlier. The James yard built five schooners and two powered draggers in 1926, including Adventure. 
Adventure was built on the patterns, called moulds, of the successful Oretha F. Spinney of 1920, designed by Thomas McManus. The enterprising builder is said to have saved the moulds of the Spinney, and six years later changed a few minor details to produce Adventure. He saved the expense of paying McManus for his fine design. Whatever her patrimony, Adventure reflects most of the design features introduced by McManus to improve the safety and performance of New England fishing schooners. 
Typical of her period, Adventure was built by a syndicate of investors headed by her captain, Jeffrey Thomas, a native of Arichat, Cape Breton, who was known as one of the most capable of Gloucester's skippers. Thomas had commanded several of the most famous Gloucester schooners, including Cynthia, Sylvania, and Puritan. When it came time to name the new schooner, Captain Thomas examined the drawings of imaginary schooners drawn by his young son Gordon, and chose one, exclaiming, "I think the name Adventure is the best, because fishing is an adventure and I don't believe there was ever a vessel out of Gloucester with that name." Adventure was christened with a bottle of champagne by Miss Natalie J. Thomas, youngest daughter of the captain, on September 16, 1926. 
ADVENTURE THE GREATEST HIGHLINER OF THEM ALL
Adventure became the greatest "highliner" (a mark of respect denoting the most successful fish catching vessel) that ever sailed from Gloucester, making more money than any other vessel on the Atlantic coast of the United States. In 1943, her best year, the schooner landed $364,000 of fish. The total value of the fish landed by Adventure in her career exceeds $4 million. 
Fishing crews were assembled informally, without record keeping, so evidence is scanty. But it has been estimated that more than half of "New England" fishermen in the first decades of this century were natives of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, with perhaps another 20 percent of Scandinavian birth, and a scattering of Irish, Italian, and other nationalities. A smaller fleet of similar schooners was owned and crewed predominately by men of Portuguese descent. These men had learned the business in the forecastle. Some who survived moved on to command and own their own vessels.
Fishing was a highly competitive business with an unusual seagoing labor structure. The ranked hierarchy of naval and oceangoing merchant services was not found in the New England fishing industry. There, without benefit of subordinate officers, a captain commanded more by charisma, persuasion, and example than by respect for rank. Aboard Adventure, the captain bunked in the after cabin with five other fishermen and came forward to eat in the forecastle with his crew. 
Almost as important as the captain was the cook, who was, in effect, the vessel's morale officer. Food was a motivating force at sea, and, by the late-nineteenth century, fishing schooners provided exceptionally good fresh food for their crews and allowed them unlimited access to food between regular meals. During their "mug ups," or snacks, the fishermen replenished their calories between fishing tasks. The costs of the food were assessed against the crew's portion of the income of the voyage. 
Fishermen were paid a share of the profits of the voyage, apportioned equally. One of two pay methods was used on board each schooner. In the method used in Gloucester, the owners payed for all supplies, with half of the catch going to the fishermen, and an additional six to eight percent going to the skipper. In the other method prevalent in many ports, each crewman fished "on his own hook," furnishing his own gear and some supplies. The owners deducted their expenses, general supplies, and a profit from the gross proceeds of each trip, distributing the remainder equally. The work was inherently dangerous and there was no life insurance, welfare, or retirement for fishermen. 
The fishermen were encouraged to work unstintingly, with the hope of being the first ship to deliver a large catch to a market hungry for fish. In an industry full of competitive factors, fishermen were a competitive lot. Competition between individual fishermen on a vessel could increase the vessel's catch. A faster vessel could return to port quicker, to obtain higher prices for its fish. A captain with a reputation for fast sailing and productive fishing could attract the best fishermen.
Adventure represents the last of the dory trawling New England offshore fishing schooners. This was the dominant technology of the period from 1865 to about 1920. On the shallow fertile banks on the continental shelf from Georges Bank and the shoals east of Nantucket to the Grand Bank east of Newfoundland, fishermen sought bottom-dwelling fish, principally cod, haddock, and halibut. After centuries of using simple handlines to catch these fish from the rails of their vessels, New England fishermen adopted the European trawl method of fishing between 1845 and 1865. A typical trawl consisted of an 1,800-foot ground line which was anchored along the bottom. At intervals of a few feet, short lines called gangings attached as many as 300-500 baited hooks. Buoys attached to the trawl anchors marked the location of the trawl as it lay hundreds of feet below the surface. 
In order to tend such complicated gear and fish a larger area, fishing schooners became mother ships to a fleet of small catcher boats. In New England, flat-bottom, flaring-sided, nearly double-ended boats called dorys were adopted for this form of fishing at sea. The dory is generally considered to be the first mass-produced American boat, turned out by the thousands to meet the demands of the fishing industry.
Adventure's fourteen dorys, stored nested with the thwarts out in two stacks on deck, allowed her 28 fishermen to set and haul their trawl lines and transport their fish back to the schooner. In two-man work gangs, called "dory mates," aboard a fishing schooner, the dorys spread out so that they each were separated by about one half mile, returning to the schooner only to unload fish or rebait the trawl. When fog or heavy seas threatened the dorys returned to the schooner until trawling could resume.
The North Atlantic is frequently subjected to heavy fogs which presented a great danger to the men in their dorys. It was easy to become separated from the anchored schooner, leaving the dory mates alone on the open ocean with only a small water flask and a small chance of being picked up by another vessel or making in to the nearest shore. Four men of Adventure went astray in a fog off Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, in April 1940. Two men in one boat were picked up by another schooner seven hours later; a freighter picked up the second pair of dorymates after 42 hours. 
Dory fishermen always faced the danger of capsizing or colliding with their schooner in heavy seas. One of Adventure's crew, Theodore Babine, was lost when the schooner overran his dory. Until dory fishing ended with the retirement of Adventure, the danger of capsizing while wearing a heavy suit of clothes and boots was met stoically by the men, most of whom could not swim. 
THE LAST DORY FISHING SCHOONER
Dangers threatened men aboard Adventure as well as in the boats. Heavy seas could sweep men overboard, as they did in March 1947, when Stanley Conrad was carried off in a storm on Brown's Bank. The wheel house was replaced in 1939 after a huge sea carried it away, along with the two crewmen inside. At least two crewmen and one captain died of natural causes associated with work aboard. Captain Thomas died at the wheel of a heart attack after chopping ice from the rigging. 
Adventure closed dory fishing because no young men would take the place of the experienced old-timers as they retired. By 1949, there were only two boats still dory trawling and most of the men were over fifty years old. In 1953 Adventure became the last dory trawler before finally retiring from fishing. 
THE MAINE WINDJAMMER TRADE
Adventure was sold in 1953 to Donald Hurd, Dayton Newton, and Herbert Beizer. They converted the fish pens into cabins and removed the engine to prepare the schooner for the casual passenger trade. During the summer season, the schooner, now called a "windjammer" in advertisements, sailed along the Maine coast. In 1964 she was sold again to Captain Jim Sharp of Camden, Maine, who sailed her in that trade from Camden until 1987. At that time the Coast Guard would no longer continue to certify Adventure to carry passengers without a major rebuilding and Captain Sharp did not wish to see the schooner lost.
Captain Sharp donated Adventure in 1988 to The Gloucester Adventure, Inc., a non-profit group formed in Gloucester, Massachusetts, to preserve the schooner, "as a monument to the history of Gloucester and for the education and pleasure of the public." The group is dedicated to preserving Adventure and operating her at sea; developing educational programs; and heightening public awareness of Gloucester's role in the development of the American fishing industry and the importance of maintaining and protecting the fisheries. Using donated funds, the group has completed approximately half of the rebuilding needed by the vessel. 
1. David B. Quinn, North America From Earliest Discovery to First Settlements: The Norse Voyages to 1612 (New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1977) pp. 512-532.
2. Samuel Eliot Morison, The Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1783-1860 (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Company, 1941) pp. 8-9.
3. Joseph E. Garland, Down to the Sea: The Fishing Schooners of Gloucester (Boston: David R. Godine, 1983) p. 3; and Joseph Garland, The Gloucester Guide, A Stroll Through Place and Time (Rockport, Massachusetts: Protean Press, 1990) pp. 1-2.
4. William A. Baker, Mayflower and Other Colonial Vessels (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1983) pp. 136-139; William A. Baker, Sloops and Shallops (Barre, Massachusetts: Barre Publishing Company, 1966) pp. x-xiv, 1-37.
5. Paul Forsythe Johnson, The New England Fisheries: A Treasure Greater Than Gold (Salem, Massachusetts: The Peabody Museum of Salem, 1984) p. vii; Baker, Sloops and Shallops, pp. 82-91.
6. Baker, Sloops and Shallops, pp. 103-105.
7. Morison, The Maritime History of Massachusetts, p. 306.
8. Chapelle, The American Fishing Schooners, p. 223.
9. Wesley George Pierce, Going Fishing: The Story of the Deep Sea Fisherman of New England (Camden, Maine: International Marine Publishing Company, 1989 reprint of the original 1934 edition) pp. 306-308.
10. Garland, Adventure, pp. 28-29.
11. Garland, Adventure, pp. 28-31.
12. Thomas, Fast and Able, pp. 195-196.
13. Thomas, Fast and Able, p. 197; and Garland, Adventure, pp. 143.
14. Garland, Down to the Sea, pp. 108-109.
15. Nancy D'Estang, National Historic Landmark Nomination Form for Schooner L.A. Dunton (on file in History Division, National Park Service, Washington, D.C.)
16. Garland, Down to the Sea, p. 104; and Morison, Maritime History of Massachusetts, pp. 309-310.
17. Wesley George Pierce, Going Fishing, pp. 63-65.
18. Thomas, Fast and Able, p. 196.
19. Thomas, Fast and Able, p. 196.
20. Thomas, Fast and Able, pp. 196-197.
21. Garland, Adventure, pp. 131-143; and Thomas, Fast and Able, p. 197.
22. Garland, The Gloucester Guide, p. 124.
The author would like to thank historian Joe Garland for his kind hospitality during several visits to Adventure and Gloucester. Mr. Garland's book, Adventure, Queen of the Windjammers, combined with his books on Gloucester fishing schooners and the town itself, provided the majority of the information for this study. The author is indebted to Mr. Garland for permission to use this material. Cayte Ward, director, and Captain Dan Leahy of The Gloucester Adventure, Inc., provided considerable assistance and many kindnesses, particularly, the opportunity to take the wheel under sail off Cape Ann. There is no better way to understand the skill of the shipwrights who built Adventure and the many people who have kept her than to be on board under way.
Baker, William A., Sloops and Shallops, Barre, Massachusetts: Barre Publishing Company, 1966.
__________ , Mayflower and Other Colonial Vessels, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1983.
Chapelle, Howard Irving, The American Fishing Schooners, 1825-1935, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1973.
D'Estang, Nancy, National Historic Landmark Nomination Form for Schooner L.A. Dunton. On file in History Division, National Park Service, Washington, D.C.
Garland, Joseph E., Down To The Sea: The Fishing Schooners of Gloucester, Boston: David R. Godine, 1983.
___________ , The Gloucester Guide, A Stroll Through Place and Time, Rockport, Massachusetts: Protean Press, 1990.
Garland, Joseph E., with Captain Jim Sharp, Adventure, Queen of Windjammers, Camden, Maine: Down East Books, 1985.
Johnston, Paul Forsythe, The New England Fisheries: A Treasure Greater Than Gold, Salem, Massachusetts: The Peabody Museum of Salem, 1984.
Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1783-1860, Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1941.
Quinn, David B., North America From Earliest Discovery to First Settlements: The Norse Voyages to 1612, New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1977.
Thomas, Gordon W., Fast and Able: Life Stories of Great Gloucester Fishing Vessels, Gloucester, Massachusetts: Gloucester 350th Anniversary Celebration, 1973.
United States Department of Commerce, Merchant Vessels of the United States, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1929.
Wesley George Pierce, Going Fishing: The Story of the Deep-Sea Fishermen of New England, Camden, Maine: International Marine Publishing Company, 1989 reprint of 1934 original.