Illustration by Jim Ewing
No sailing ship excites the imagination the way a Grand Banks fishing schooner does. Brave fishermen, fearless skippers, weather-beaten dorymen long-lining in fog and winter storms. Although “Captains Courageous” — the 1937 film based on Rudyard Kipling’s novel — offers as accurate a portrayal as we’re likely to see of that life, the schooner Adventure is a living relic of that age.
Launched in 1926, she was designed as a “knockabout” by Boston’s renowned Thomas F. McManus. The knockabout was considered a safer design because it carries no bowsprit and the crew didn’t have to wrestle with headsails on a pitching sprit. Built of white oak and yellow pine at the Essex, Mass., yard of John F. James and Son, Adventure is 122 feet overall, with a 25-foot beam and a 14-foot draft.
For 28 years she plied the Atlantic, catching cod, haddock and halibut with a crew of 27 and 14 dories. Capt. Leo Hynes, in his 20 years at the helm, turned her into a “highliner,” a real money-maker. “In-and-Out” Hynes, as he was known, drove the boat relentlessly, making 48 runs in one year from the Grand Banks to the southern grounds around Nantucket Shoals and Cape Cod, Mass. Upon her retirement in 1954, the doughty ship had earned her owners $4 million. In her working days, she had a doghouse aft and two stacks of dories between her masts.
After a career in the Maine windjammer fleet, The Gloucester Adventure Inc. took over the schooner in the late 1980s. She has been undergoing a progressive restoration since 1990 and is berthed in Gloucester, Mass., as a Coast Guard-certified Moored Attraction Vessel. Once she is fully restored, Adventure will return to active sailing as a platform for maritime educational programs and a living monument to the more than 5,000 fishermen who sailed out of Gloucester and never returned.
In his assessment, marine historian Howard I. Chapelle called Adventure the “acme in the long evolution of the New England fishing schooner.” For the schooner’s many supporters, she is an “irreplaceable artifact from an extraordinary period in American history.”
For more about Adventure and the restoration, visit www.schooner-adventure.org.
September 2013 issue