Submitted by Emily Molina.
Tacoma, WA- Tacoma’s tall ship Odyssey may be at the end of an illustrious 84-year history after fundraising initiatives this past year have left the outfit shorthanded.
The 90-foot historic Sparkman & Stephens wooden sailboat was built in 1938 in the Nevins Shipyard in New York.
Commandeered by the US Navy during WWII and renamed USS Saluda– the ship remained with the navy before coming to Tacoma as a training vessel in 1978 for Sea Scout Ship 190- where she’s been ever since.
Operating under Pacific Harbors Council – Boy Scouts of America, and Coast Guard regulations, the co-ed program teaches leadership, responsibility, and life skills through tall ship sailing to youth aged 14-21 throughout the Puget Sound Region.
“The size of Odyssey makes her a truly unique sailing experience,” said Shana Curd, Friends of Odyssey founding board President, alumni parent, and former skipper. “The youth crew are taught how to run and manage a 90- foot sailing vessel, which is no small task even for adults. They rise above and beyond all expectations and their love for the boat is obvious in how the crew has grown, even while temporarily unable to sail.”
With Covid shutting down charter season, and the original 105-foot Sitka spruce mast being retired shortly after, the group has been trying to raise the money and locate spar grade wood for the project– to save both ship and program.
A nonprofit called Friends of Odyssey was founded this past December where tax-deductible donations can be made, as well as a Go Fund Me account.
With a private donor in the wings and a donation pledge of $160k to cover the mast cost, the group needs to come up with $80K to secure the pledge, and pay for drydock where the mast installation would be completed.
“To support Odyssey’s restoration, Friends of Odyssey was asked to raise $300,000 in its first year. With a pledge of $160,000 waiting and funds already on hand, we are only $80,000 away from saving the boat! The catch is that the pledge is time contingent upon us raising the $80,000 by Friday August 19. It would be a real loss to Tacoma and the Puget Sound sailing community if this amazing vessel can’t be saved,” said Curd.
With a deadline of this week, will SSS Odyssey pull it off or is this the end of over eight decades of history for Tacoma’s tall ship?