The grand old Schooner Zodiac is looking forward to the century mark.

It’s in Seattle and was the guest of the Center for Wooden Boats for two months awaiting a place at Lake Union Drydock Company for winter maintenance. 

Shipwrights and volunteers will be recorking about 4,000 linear feet of seams on deck, conducting mechanical systems maintenance, painting and varnishing.

The schooner was built in 1924 in East Boothbay, Maine, for brothers Robert Wood Johnson II and J. Seward Johnson, heirs to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceuticals fortune.

The builder, Hodgdon Brothers Shipyard (now Hodgdon Yachts), is still in business.                                    

The Zodiac’s 10-ton masts and booms, and half-ton of sails, are being worked on in its home port, Bellingham, and the hull motored down to Seattle under a plastic weather cover. When in place, the mainmast rises 12 stories.


Over the years the schooner has sailed to Spain, the Caribbean, Labrador and Greenland, and through the Panama Canal to San Francisco, where it became a bar pilot ship.

A previous owner placed a grand piano and organ onboard.

The Zodiac has one full-time crew member living aboard: The ship’s mascot Abby, a tuxedo cat.

Come spring, the 160-foot historical vessel will resume public and private charters.

Celebrations in two years will mark her 100th birthday.

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