Friday, June 23rd from 5:30-7:30 pm, there will be an open house on the schooner Utopia at her home port, Discovery Pier, 13271 S W Bay Shore Dr, Traverse City. Guests can board the ship, walk the deck, and go below to learn more about her and her unique history. An underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) demonstration will be on display, TC Celtic will provide music entertainment during the event, and raffle tickets for a paddleboard will be available. Admission is free.
After being built in 1946 by Fred Peterson and Peterson Builders, Inc., the 77′ staysail schooner circumnavigated the globe twice, has participated in numerous Chicago-Mackinac races, and most recently has been a goodwill ambassador in Door County, WI and beyond, hosting many non-profit events and receptions. In addition to walking and sitting on the deck during the event, attendees will be able to observe the ample space below deck where the sailors prepared meals, ate, slept, and relaxed on their journeys.
Utopia was donated to Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA) in September 2016 by Ellsworth Peterson of Sturgeon Bay, WI and Honolulu, HI. Ellsworth, retired chairman of Peterson Builders, said, “Inland Seas Education Association is the ideal new home for the Utopia. After our research, we determine that space, economics and programming precluded our leaving her in Sturgeon Bay.” Peterson’s friend and crew mate, Jerry Waite, introduced him to ISEA where he learned of their environmental and student education programs allowing the ship to continue its maritime legacy.
School groups participated in an underwater remotely operated vehicle program aboard Utopia this past spring and public ROV programming will be available in July and August. Inland Seas is also pursuing a U.S. Coast Guard license to carry passengers to expand Utopia programming to include STEM experiences under sail.
“The story of Utopia and the Peterson family is exciting and we will work hard to ensure that this story is told to as many people as possible,” said Fred Sitkins, Executive Director of Inland Seas Education Association. More information about Utopia and her history will be available at the open house.