In the beginning, the three founding Board of Directors of the Kitsap Maritime Heritage Foundation (KMHF) met in 2009 while volunteering on the Lavengro, moored in Seattle but designated to be the tall ship of Kitsap County. The three mates envisioned Kitsap having its very own tall ship since the Lavengro spent most of its time across the Puget Sound. Jonathan Thomas, Sewart Nordal, and Wesley Lueders were determined to make a splash in Kitsap County! With nearly 259 miles of saltwater shoreline and an extensive maritime history, Kitsap seemed destined to have its own floating “classroom”.
In March 2012, the three men met to discuss forming a private, nonprofit charitable organization that would prompt community residents and guests, both young and old, to:
- Learn about our rich Puget Sound maritime heritage.
- Access a platform within which they could develop teamwork skills while learning experientially about physics, science, and math.
- Apply science, physics and math skills in ways that foster understanding of what makes a sailing ship “sail”.
- Explore our marine environment and gain understanding of the puzzling challenges and changes that marine science experts are facing.
The Founding Board continued on their journey, strengthening relations with other similar maritime organizations who supported the development of this floating classroom where individuals of all ages could acquire STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills in an applied approach with hands-on, problem-solving learning.
Additional learning opportunities include marine environmental habitat and preservation.
In 2013 the founding board hired Holly James, a local buisness developer and entrepreneur to help KMHF set up their 501c3 status and guide them through the first year.
The Fiddler’s Dream, Kitsap’s very own tall ship, became a reality through the organization’s pursuit of the donation of the vessel from previous owner, Seattle attorney Michael Withey. This two-masted, gaff-rigged schooner resembles the cod schooners that plied local waterways between the late 1800’s and the mid- 1940’s. The Fiddler’s Dream is a 66 ½ -foot (spar length) John Alden schooner with a 49.5 of deck. This versatile vessel has a steel hull, with all other structures of the vessel built of wood. Steven Dundas built Fiddler’s Dream in 2006 at Dundas’ Loom Manufacturing in Sawmill Gulch, Montana to replicate the schooners of yester-year. Skilled craftsperson volunteers are now refurbishing The Fiddler’s Dream at its new home, the Brownsville Marina, in preparation for its life as a sailing educational classroom.
You may be wondering, “Why a schooner?” Schooners pioneered commerce in the Puget Sound region, surpassing other forms of navigation before overland thoroughfares were available. Schooners were well proven to sail upwind with ease and stability. Those who were familiar with Puget Sound’s ever-changing winds championed the use of schooners which had the ability to respond to the wind patterns as well as the capacity to stow large amounts of cargo relative to the vessel’s size. Thus, the schooner became the working vessel of choice and a valuable asset for delivering needed supplies to the growing number of small ports dotting the shores of Puget Sound.