Port Of Everett Offering Look At Project Honoring Historical Schooner “Equator”

June 7, 2023


The Port of Everett is offering a rare glimpse at a project currently underway near the 10th street boat launch where the schooner “Equator” has been housed for more than half a century. Here’s the scoop from Catherine Soper at the Port.


Click image to enlarge.

Schooner Equator

The Equator has been at the Port of Everett for more than 6 decades.

The Port of Everett invites community members to join us at the waterfront to learn about efforts underway to document and memorialize the iconic Equator vessel before she is officially laid to rest later this summer.

The Port is hosting an open house to celebrate the maritime legacy of the schooner-turned-tugboat on June 15 between 3-7 p.m. at the vessel’s shed located at the corner of 10th Street and Craftsman Way off W. Marine View Drive in Everett.

Swing in to chat with students studying maritime archaeology and conservation at Texas A&M University and get a behind-the-scenes look as they document her remains.

Visit with Port representatives and our partners at Historic Everett at booths around the documentation site to explore the vessel’s storied past, see renderings for a new interpretive exhibit and new children’s ship-themed playset coming soon to the waterfront, and hear about plans to salvage some of her materials so parts of the vessel can live on in local art.

An added bonus – the coming Menchies at the Marina will have their frozen yogurt truck onsite serving up treats to open house goers while supplies last.

The Port’s goal is to honor the Equator’s history — as a testament to the esteemed builder’s workmanship, a link to one of the most famous writers of the 20th century, a nod to the vessel’s contribution to the maritime industry, and as a reminder of the boat’s many lives in her storied career from 1889 to 1956.

While Everett has no direct link to the Equator during her service years, the vessel has been an iconic figure at the Everett waterfront since she was put on display here in the 1960s. Both time and the elements have since taken their toll on the wooden structure.

“Many may not know that this sailing schooner once chartered by Robert Louis Stevenson spent most of her life as a humble Puget Sound tug, towing larger vessels and felled logs through our waterways,” Port of Everett CEO Lisa Lefeber said. “With her stern having collapsed a while back and the determination that rehabilitation and relocation are not feasible options, it’s time we memorialize the vessel so the journey that led her to the Port of Everett can live on. Partnership with Texas A&M is a wonderful opportunity to have quality documentation of the vessel to preserve this important history into the future, along with some other exciting ways we are planning to honor her memory.”

Vessel Documentation

Students studying maritime archaeology and conservation at Texas A&M University are on site now thru mid-June, documenting the Equator with state-of-the-art technology. Two professors and a cohort of eight graduate and undergraduate archaeology students are learning current techniques to record, analyze and, when possible, conserve heritage boats. The graduate students are pursuing a master’s degree in affiliation with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology.

For the Equator project students are using a combination of 3D laser scanning technology (LiDAR), high-definition photography and photogrammetry as well as traditional recording methods to document the structure of the ship. Samples of her timbers will be analyzed for wood species and organic material identification and further dendrochronological analysis, and then properly documented for historical record.

The student work will serve as a case study for similar vessel documentation efforts into the future when preservation is not feasible.

Interpretive Exhibit

An interpretive exhibit about the Equator’s legacy will soon be fabricated for display at the Port’s Waterfront Center near the interior entrance to Scuttlebutt Family Brew Pub. The exhibition will include historical photos, a timeline of the vessel’s storied career, a map showing her many journeys through the seas, a shipbuilder’s drawing and a 1:48 model of the ship itself.

The Port was loaned a model of the Equator built by Robert Yorczyk of the Washington Ship Model Society in Washington, D.C. The 26-by-36-by-12-inch model will be the showpiece of the interpretive exhibit.

Yorczyk was inspired to build a miniature of the South Seas trading schooner because he has fond memories of teaching math and science in a Samoan village while serving in the Peace Corps in the ‘70s and of a TV show based on James Mitchener’s tales called “Adventures in Paradise,” which aired 1959-1962.

Ship-themed Playset at Jetty Landing

Image provided by Port of Everett.

A new ship-themed children’s playset in honor of the historic Equator will be installed at Jetty Landing Park near the boat launch later this summer.

The playset, which offers ADA accessible features, includes slides, deck-to-deck climbers, a porthole panel, a nautical bow, a stern climber, a pipe wall and a tower, as well as an octopus and a baby orca whale. The playground equipment has been sourced from Northwest Playground Equipment Inc. in Issaquah, Wash.

Living on in Local Artwork

Plans to salvage some of the Equator’s timber so parts of the vessel can live on in local art are also underway.

The Port is exploring opportunities to work with a well-known local artist experienced in creating large-scale installations from recycled materials – including timbers sourced from a historic schooner. Additional details are expected to be available by the time of the open house.

About the Equator – A Historical Snapshot

The Equator was rescued from a breakwater along Jetty Island in 1967. The Everett-based Equator Foundation hoped to restore the boat to her former glory; sadly, it proved to be a challenging project and funding fell short. But she was the first historical asset in Snohomish County to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

The vessel — constructed in 1888 by renowned boat builder Matthew Turner — is said to be the last of its kind in North America. Her colorful history includes a voyage through the South Pacific with author Robert Louis Stevenson, work as a tender to an Arctic whaling fleet and towing service as a Puget Sound tug.

When her champion, Eldon Schalka, died in a plane crash, the momentum to resurrect the Equator was lost. After some time located at the Port’s Marina Village, the boat is now displayed near the Jetty Landing Boat Launch.

In 2017, the stern of the vessel collapsed, crushing any lingering hope of restoration. After searching for an organization to rehome the historic boat to no avail, the Port obtained custody of the Equator in 2022 to document, memorialize and repurpose her materials.


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