History & Mission

The dory-fishing Schooner Adventure is the last of Gloucester's famous fleet of Grand Bank fishing schooners. The vessel has significant historical importance, both regionally and nationally, and is irreplaceable. As one of the last, authentic sail-powered fishing schooners for which Gloucester was known throughout the world, the completion of her restoration is vital to preserving Massachusetts' cultural heritage and Gloucester’s sense of place. Listed on the National Register of Historic places and designated a National Historic Landmark, Adventure was built in 1926 at the John F. James Shipyard in Essex, Massachusetts.

Adventure was designed by Thomas McManus as a "knockabout"--without a bowsprit for the safety of the crew. Constructed at the very end of the Age of Sail, Adventure was an exceptionally fast and able vessel, the ultimate evolution of the fishing schooner. Carrying a sailing rig, diesel engine and 14 dories, she spent the next 27 years, under Captains Jeff Thomas and Leo Hynes, fishing the once bountiful outer banks of the North Atlantic from her homeports of Gloucester and Boston. Adventure was a "highliner," the biggest moneymaker of all time, landing nearly $4 million worth of cod and halibut during her 27 year fishing career. When she retired in 1953, Adventure was the only American dory-fishing schooner left in the Atlantic.

In 1955, the vessel was converted into a windjammer. Sailing out of Camden, under the steady hands of Captain Jim Sharp, Adventure carried passengers on cruises off the coast of Maine until 1987. In 1988, the vessel was donated to the people of Gloucester to serve as a community resource. The Gloucester Adventure, Inc., a 501(C)(3) non-profit historic preservation and maritime educational organization, was created to serve as stewards of Gloucester's historic tall ship. The Gloucester Adventure’s mission is to preserve the vessel for posterity and use it as a community resource for innovative educational programming focusing on maritime, cultural and environmental issues. The vessel will be operated at sea, primarily along the New England coast, as a living monument to Massachusetts' fishing heritage. As such, the vessel is important not only to Gloucester, but also to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and all America.

While most of the majestic sailing ships that once were common sights in America’s ports have been lost, the Adventure offers a rare opportunity to save a priceless piece of Cape Ann’s unique maritime heritage. Adventure is an icon of our nation’s fishing industry and Gloucester’s 381-year heritage as America’s oldest fishing port. Adventure is also a living memorial to the more than 5,000 Gloucester fishermen who perished at sea. In recognition of Adventure’s historic and cultural importance, the schooner was selected as an Official Project of Save America’s Treasures, a program sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Once fully restored, Adventure will sail as Gloucester’s flagship and as an innovative platform for interpretive programs based on our rich, maritime heritage and on environmental issues. The preservation of this vessel will allow future generations to better understand the cultural history of Gloucester and better appreciate the lives of the Grand Banks fishermen and the hardships they endured aboard a fishing schooner. School children and the general public will have the opportunity to connect with their own past by experiencing what it was to live and work on a wooden fishing schooner. Adventure opens a window in time and allows people to journey back a hundred years ago and directly experience a way of life that is otherwise lost to history. Also, for people who step on board Adventure, this majestic tall ship is a tangible reminder of how capable were the wooden boat builders of Essex and of how hard our ancestors worked and how much they sacrificed to build America. There is no better way to tell Gloucester’s story than on board Gloucester’s last, authentic fishing schooner.

Adventure Crew