With a makeover behind her, schooner Shenandoah sets sail under new ownership.
by Patrick Flanary
When 32-year-old Bob Douglas first sailed his wooden ship Shenandoah into Vineyard Haven Harbor the summer after John F. Kennedy died, no one had ever seen anything like it.
His topsail schooner was indeed one of a kind. Douglas modeled Shenandoah after an 1849 revenue cutter and named her after his favorite song. She sailed at the command of the wind, had no engine, and was only the second schooner in the world built expressly to carry passengers.
Thousands of Shenandoah’s passengers over the decades have been children, many aboard a boat for the first time, perhaps the largest they would ever set foot on. Each trip promised crisp air, liberating wind, and adventure—experiences well outside the norm of a typical classroom.
During the 1980s, Douglas began welcoming students onto Shenandoah for a week on the water. These sea voyages were no day at the beach; there was work to do. Douglas taught them to hoist the sails, scrub the deck, keep their cabins tidy. Many kids couldn’t get enough and kept coming back summer after summer.