Starbound, a 72-foot ketch, is under long-term charter by the Rhode Island non-profit S.A.L.T.Y — Seamanship and Leadership Training for Youths.
Starbound joins the Sea Scouts’ local fleet of four additional sailboats and powerboats. In February the tall ship gained a “little sister” with the acquisition of Golden Goose, a 40-foot Stadel wood schooner built in 1975 and donated by a Rhode Island family.
Including Golden Goose, S.A.L.T.Y. will manage the largest youth-oriented fleet of its kind in New England, and possibly the biggest on the East Coast, aside from a comparable Boy Scouts of America fleet in Florida. Golden Goose will be available for youth and corporate charters, starting this spring.
Starbound recently made a 225-mile voyage from northern Maine to Narragansett Bay to begin its new mission as a platform for youth education and adventure. It will be a common sight on local waters, most often around Narragansett Bay, Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard and Cuttyhunk.
Starbound will be the primary vessel for Sea Scouts Ship 1909, part of the Boy Scouts of America, a co-ed organization for young adults between the ages of 14 and 21.
Charters are also being considered by the Girl Scouts, Boys & Girls Clubs, the Ronald McDonald House and Gold Star Kids, an organization that provides experiences for teens who have lost a parent in a military conflict.
Recent inspections revealed age-related damage to Starbound’s two original wood masts and bowsprit — an unexpected discovery that will call for a substantial fundraising effort.
A campaign is in the planning stages and will make use of tax-deductible donations and sponsorships, with the aim of quickly raising an estimated $80,000 for the mast replacement project. The new masts will be designed to maintain the historical accuracy and beauty of the vessel. Details of the fundraising campaign will be released in the coming weeks.
Starbound has an adventure-filled history, having twice sailed around the world. It was once owned by singer and actor Burl Ives. She was originally built in 1950, based on Joshua Slocum’s 36-foot Spray, which became famous by completing the world’s first solo circumnavigation in 1898.
In the late 1990s, Starbound’s prior owners funded a $650,000 restoration to her wood hull, deck and marine systems. She is at Wickford Shipyard undergoing inspection and preparation for Coast Guard passenger vessel certification. As soon as the weather permits, she will be sanded down to bare wood and refinished, taking on new sails and spars prior to arrival at her home port, Norton’s in East Greenwich, R.I.