Not sure how I missed this vessel in the past, but the Schooner Martha turned 100 this year. That’s an incredible milestone!
Owned and operated by the Schooner Martha Foundation, this grand old vessel has a rich history which included actor James Cagney as an owner. Her current stewards are Robert and Holly Kays d’Arcy, a couple from Port Townsend, WA.
A lot of lessons fit into the hull of a big boat. There are manual skills, science, navigation and piloting, but the d’Arcys also see other lessons that are often lost on a modern world distracted, as Robert said, “by flashy cars and space shots.” For starters, the crew of a sailboat is a self-contained social unit.
“You can’t get off,” said Holly. In other words, everyone has to get along.
In modern life, rules have an abstract quality that can make it easy to question authority. On a boat, everyone is effectively serving the ship, and rules are aimed at doing so efficiently and consistently. Lines need to be coiled just so, so anyone can undo them quickly or in the dark.
“It makes sense the first time you try to bring down the sails,” said Robert, “and the whole coil goes up in the rig like spaghetti.”
From May through September the Schooner Martha runs youth sail training programs in Puget Sound. The Pacific Northwest on North America has an incredibly rich maritime heritage and some of the strongest sail training programs on the continent. It’s great to see the interest, energy and effort behind keeping a 100 year old vessel in service. But it isn’t easy. “That’s schooner life: challenging for the greater good” writes Sorensen. The Schooner Martha Foundation is currently halfway to their capital campaign goal of $90,000 to replace keel bolts and planking beneath the waterline. More information about her future plan and how to donate can be found here.