In July of 1974, the Adventuress greeted me at the dock at Shilshole Marina, along with a troop of Girl Scouts with whom I had traveled by bus from Colorado for a weeklong sail from Seattle to Victoria. She was then a 60 year old, 133 foot double masted schooner, whose claim to fame was having the tallest mast on a schooner in the United States.
Had it not been for leading music at an event at my Colorado hometown I would not have been there, being a broke college graduate, but the sponsor of the event paid my way if I agreed to bring my guitar. And so, I found myself boarding her gleaming wood decks and settling in with the scouts to be her crew on the open Salish Sea.
One week later, we returned to the dock and within two weeks, I had quit my job and moved to Seattle with no job and no place to stay, accompanied by my immigrant mother who celebrated busting into new adventures. She left me with an old car and about $200 to get me started on my new life.
I had been thinking about The Adventuress these last five days as I walked the marina near our hotel in Everett, where we have been staying while potential buyers perused our home to see if they could imagine themselves there.
The first morning, a particular ship caught my attention. Her name was emblazoned on her vintage hull: Arabesque. I must admit when I first noticed the giant capital A on the hull, my heart skipped a beat as I imagined this was the ship that lured me here. I dismissed the thought, though, for if the Adventuress were still sea worthy, she would be in Seattle or on Lake Washington.
But it did not keep me from my hope…
oh, that I could see her one more time.
On our last day before returning home, my husband accompanied me on my morning walk in the brisk air. As we neared the waterfront mall about a mile from our hotel, the sidewalk was blocked by construction. We had gone far enough, I thought, and then felt compelled to go around the blockage and head a different way to where the ships floated against the docks.
We rounded the corner. There she was…the Arabesque.
And then I noticed a gaggle of teenagers on the deck of a new ship moored behind the Arabesque - one that was larger, double masted, with a majestic bow sprit.
Could it be?
We approached and tears started to flow. On the hull, in its original writing, was the ship’s name: The Adventuress. She was here. She had come to say goodbye.
I approached one of the crew members who introduced me to Peter, the director, after she heard my story. “She sailed this ship in ‘74,” she called out.
I told Peter, as some teens eavesdropped, that a week on that ship had caused me to return home, quit my job, and move to Seattle to be near that sea we had sailed. He turned to address the teenagers near him.
“The Adventuress changes people,” he said.
That schooner embraced me 48 years ago and trapped me in her spell. I sat on her deck in the evening and learned to tie knots that would hold against pressure. I slept under the stars on the deck serenaded by the lull of the waves and the whispers of night skies. I sang my sorrows into the sea, and I survived jumping off the ship into the frigid waters just to prove I could. And in the rolling seas, I sat on that bow sprit and became a wave cowgirl, hoping the net beneath me would hold if I were bucked off.
The Adventuress embraced me and changed my life’s course that summer in 1974. And these last five days as I wandered the marina, my heart’s cry had become to see her one more time… without knowing why.
And then today, in ways that defy reason, she found a way to say goodbye. She was placed in this slip, on this marina, in this unexpected place, on this day, at this precise time, as she was being readied to set sail.
She was waiting for me.
This now 109 year old sailing schooner could not let me leave these shores without giving me one last gift…the gift of letting go…of saying goodbye and doing what all adventurers must do…
…leave a certain shore and plunge headlong into unknown waters.