The Challenge is a replica of a Great Lakes Schooner that sailed 1852-1889.

The original vessel was built by a 25 year-old shipwright named William Wallace Bates, who had only an 8th grade education and influenced shipbuilding by including the use of a retractable centerboard. The Challenge was the semi-truck of the Great Lakes.

The replica was built in the fall of 2005 by master builder Rob Stevens. Experience the living and working conditions aboard a 19th Century sailing vessel, and learn more about the physics, science, and technology of sailing. Stay above deck or travel below and hear the sailors sing of their journeys.


Experience and learn about maritime terms like:

  • Anchors – These heavy weights are used to hold a ship in place and prevent her from drifting with the wind, tide, or current.
  • The Ship’s Bell – This can be used to make the crew aware what time it is. More importantly, it is a warning device for both other ships and the boat crew. In high winds, the sound of a bell will carry further than a person’s voice.
  • Masts and Standing Rigging – These are the vertical spar used to support the sails. There are always at least two masts, but there can be as many as four on Great Lakes Schooners.
  • Bilge Pump – Used to pump out water that collects in the bottom of the ship. All wooden hull vessels leak to some degree.
  • The Hold – Any area below the deck.
  • The Focscle – The forward “hold’ area. This is where the crew slept.
  • The Centerboard – The large, flat surface which is lowered under the schooner to increase the ship’s lateral area.
  • Deck House – The cabin near the stern used to house the captain and mate or cook. It is also the location where meals are cooked and eaten.
  • Wheel & Rudder – The wheel is the device used to turn the rudder. The wheel is located near the stern so it is as close to the rudder as possible. The rudder is used to control the direction of the ship.