Sure, it’s pretty cool being the captain of a tall ship.
But for Josh Berger it’s not enough. He also wants to teach people about the environment.
"That’s what I like about the Adventuress," Berger said. "I get to do both. It’s perfect."
The Adventuress, a 133-foot, two-masted schooner, bills itself as "Puget Sound’s Environmental Tall Ship."
The 96-year-old ship arrived in Tacoma on Wednesday afternoon and will stay in Commencement Bay until May 27 so its 15-member crew can teach youth about sailing, the history of the ship and Puget Sound.
On Sunday the ship will be open to the public for free tours from 9 a.m. to noon. At 1 p.m. the Adventuress will set sail for a 3-hour cruise. Tickets for the public sail are $40 for adults and $20 for those 18 and younger.
As Berger piloted the Adventuress out of Bainbridge Island’s Eagle Harbor for a public sail on May 17 he described the ship as a microcosm of Puget Sound.
"When we are all on board it’s easy to see how our actions impact each other and the ship," Berger said. "… Living here our actions impact the sound."
Berger, a graduate of The Evergreen State College, and his crew use the comparison to teach environmental responsibility to kids.
In a small compartment on the port side of the ship the crew keeps several living sea creatures including a sea star and a sea anemone. As the Adventuress sails the sound the crew give kids a hands-on lesson about what’s living in the waters below them.
The Adventuress isn’t just a classroom it’s one of 24 National Historic Monuments in Washington.
"It is sailing history," said Wendy Sonnemann, a volunteer spokeswoman for Sound Experience.
John Borden, the Chicago-based founder of the Yellow Cab Company, had the Adventuress built in 1913 so he could hunt for whales. When he failed to catch a whale he sold the ship. The ship was used by the Coast Guard in San Francisco during World War II. It has been based in Puget Sound since 1960 and has been operated by the Port Townsend-based non-profit group Sound Experience since ’88.
The ship can sleep 37 people but can carry as many as 60 people (including crew) for its public cruises. The ship has three heads (bathrooms) but no showers. All showering is done on land even on 8-day sail programs.
The public sails are designed to give people a view of the Adventuress and its mission. The visitors are invited to help raise the sails, tour below deck and even take a turn at the helm.
The hope is to inspire people to be more involved in the program. For most this means becoming a member of Sound Experience. The annual fee is $35 for students and seniors, $50 for adults or $85 per household. Member benefits include free public cruises.
But some are inspired to do much more.
Growing up in Auburn, Aubrey Gallegos took her first cruise on the Adventuress with her family when she was 9. She enjoyed it so much she took two overnight trips as a teenager. Now 22 years old and a graduate of Whitman College she is a full-time member of the crew.
"It’s a lot of fun," said Gallegos, a deckhand and program manager, "and I’ve learned a lot."