Sound Experience 


Sound Experience is an environmental and sustainability education organization that uniquely delivers programs to children, teens and the public aboard its 1913, 133-foot National Historic Landmark (NHL) schooner Adventuress.  One of only two NHL sailing ships still in active operation on the West Coast, Adventuress carries the highest level of historic significance in the nation and is an icon of Puget Sound tall ships. For more than 25 years, nonprofit Sound Experience has operated Adventuress as the region’s environmental tall ship, blending its three program areas of youth development, stewardship of our region’s waterways and maritime heritage. Young people from the region’s diverse urban and rural communities climb aboard Adventuress for powerful experiential day and overnight programs. As they journey throughout Puget Sound, young people join with their peers to raise the massive gaff-rigged sails as was done a century ago, and learn how their daily actions make a difference for the future of our marine environment. Adventuress is the only schooner of its size in the Puget Sound area that is owned by a nonprofit. As such, Sound Experience is committed to public accessibility of this national maritime treasure with affordable programs, free dockside events and public sails so that Adventuress remains “not for one, but for all.”
Mission Statement
Sound Experience sails the historic schooner Adventuress to educate, inspire and empower an inclusive community to make a difference for the future of our marine environment.
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Sound Experience
PO Box 1390 
Port Townsend 
(360) 379-0438 

Catherine Collins 
Executive Director 


Sound Experience Programs

Since 1989, nonprofit Sound Experience has been connecting youth in grades 3 through 12 with the natural wonders of the Puget Sound marine environment on programs aboard the historic schooner Adventuress. Over the past two decades, more than 60,000 children and teens from the greater Puget Sound region have participated in day and overnight on-the-water programs led by enthusiastic shipboard educators who share their passion for the outdoors as well as their knowledge of environmental issues. On board the century-old ship, students are invited to raise the sails, take the helm, and experience nature firsthand while learning about their watershed and how to become good environmental stewards. They learn the value of teamwork, responsibility to self and others, and pride in accomplishment in a supportive environment. Participants come from public and private schools, youth groups, Boy and Girl Scouts, and programs for at-risk and under-served youth. Approximately 20 percent of participants come from low-income school districts. For many of the at-risk youth who come aboard, Adventuress has been a turning point in their lives, providing them with a feeling of respect, community and support. 

Aboard Adventuress, young people participate as crew members to learn about sailing, environmental protection, teamwork, and leadership while they explore the ecology and history of their watershed. While helping to collect water and plankton samples, they are able to connect with the region’s marine ecology as they learn about emerging issues such as ocean acidification and microplastics. While working together to sail the tall ship, they learn maritime skills such as line handling, sail trim, navigation, and anchoring. And while learning from the ship’s captain, mates, and shipboard educators, they are seeing possibilities for themselves in maritime industry and marine-related careers.

Children and teens participating in Sound Experience programs gain:
  • Awareness of the issues affecting Puget Sound
  • Inspiration and information to protect the environment
  • Exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in a fun, hands-on manner
  • Connection to nature and their region with place-based programming
  • Interaction with positive role models (e.g., Adventuress’ educators and adult volunteers)
  • Encouragement to try new activities and to stretch past “comfort zones” in a supportive setting
  •  Self-confidence and self-esteem through participating in a healthy, respectful, community-oriented learning environment
  • Exposure to maritime career possibilities and opportunities in marine trades careers and in maritime industries

Recent Successes and Current Challenges

In 2014, Sound Experience completed its Adventuress Centennial Restoration Project, a 5-year complete restoration of the ship’s hull and replacement of her masts, sails and some systems. .  All work was done in accordance with the rigorous U.S Department of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservations and in compliance with U.S. Coast Guard regulations. The phased project, carefully scheduled for the winter “off season” between program years, was funded through grants from generous family foundations, National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures program, and Washington State’s Heritage Capital Projects Fund and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.  In 2010, Adventuress “won” Most Popular Historic Site in Puget Sound and $125,000 in restoration funds through the National Trust for Historic Preservation/American Express Partners in Preservation Program.
The Adventuress Deck Renewal Project - Protecting her New Hull & Ensuring her Future for Puget Sound youth

With the hull restoration complete, only one major piece of restoration remains to secure Adventuress’ future as a Puget Sound maritime education platform – the replacement of Adventuress’ aging 20-plus year old deck.  Acting as both “floor and roof,” the deck not only receives some 2,000 young people on programs, but more than 10,000 visitors a year cross the deck at public events and maritime festivals throughout the region. The deck, like the roof of any historic structure, keeps the weather from deteriorating what lies below. Sound Experience is presently raising capital funds and planning for the Deck Renewal Project, estimated at $680,000.  Once funding is secured, the project could take place as early as November 2017. As with the Centennial Restoration Project, the Deck Renewal Project is being planned to occur during the winter months to minimize interruption of youth education programming.



Providing opportunities for the region’s youth - IDEA Initiative

Over the past decade, the amount of funding available for school field trips has declined dramatically, forcing many schools to reduce or eliminate on-location environmental education programs. A 2012 survey by the American Association of School Administrators found that 29.5% of schools surveyed nationally eliminated field trips in 2011-12 and 43.2% were considering it for 2012-13. Sound Experience currently provides its environmental education programs at below cost (with subsidies of up to 40 percent for some programs) in order to allow participation by as many students as possible. The goal of the Inclusion, Diversity, Engagement, and Accessibility Initiative is to expand outreach and program delivery to underserved youth in the Puget Sound region, including Tribal youth, at-risk youth from alternative high schools such as Highline School District's New Start program, students on the Olympic Peninsula, and children in families facing the challenges of cancer. 




Sound Experience works as a Puget Sound-wide resource to inform and engage the public, and to inspire action toward a clean Puget Sound. Sound Experience’s vision is for its historic tall ship, Adventuress, to be an iconic symbol for a clean Puget Sound.

Use of Best Practices
The ship, Adventuress, serves as a model of a closed system, allowing students to monitor and make decisions about resources such and water and fuel resources, and to experience firsthand the impact humans have on natural resources.

Accessibility and Cultural Competency
To more effectively reach underserved and at-risk youth, Sound Experience offers day and overnight experiences, offering scholarship funding when necessary, including to youth-serving organizations such as Treehouse, Girl Scouts of Western Washington Outreach, Sierra Club Inner City Outings and New Futures.

In partnership with the Center for Wooden Boats, Sound Experience’s National Historic Landmark ship, Adventuress, was docked at Lake Union Park during their off season. The development of this public space has created more access to the public and gives the organization a chance to support the CWB goals during the months they are focusing on restoration.

Their first year of their new individual small donor campaign - 29 Dollars, 29 days - was a success. As part of it, they put a number to the amount of money it takes to send one child on one of their programs, $29, and can connect with donors through that incentive.
In 2012 Sound Experience will begin its new corporate team-building and education program. This is expected to be both a new source of revenue and an opportunity to encourage corporate leadership in sustainability issues in the Puget Sound region.

Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:

3/10/2012 $6,500.00support general operating expenses.
3/10/2011 $5,000.00support general operating expenses.
3/10/2008 $10,000.00support general operating expenses.


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