A project over a decade in the making is growing close to completion as the Sailing Vessel (SV) Seeker has dropped anchor in Lake Dardanelle, preparing to float down the Arkansas River on its journey to the Gulf of Mexico. The Seeker is nick-named “The Boat the Internet Built,” because its construction has been the effort of hundreds of volunteers and donors brought together by an internet campaign which provided the manpower, funding, and expertise necessary to build a ship from scratch. Once it reaches the sea, the ship is meant to be used as a cost-free research vessel for oceanographers and marine archaeologists.
The Seeker began as the dream of one Doug Jackson, a resident of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Four years of planning and a decade of construction recently yielded the final result – a 74-foot long origami – steel hulled, junk-rigged, twin-keeled, three-masted cargo motor-sailer. Jackson constructed it in his own backyard, alongside the many volunteers – be they engineers, students, captains or anyone else who has helped along the way. After it was completed, the ship had to be transported 15 miles overland to the MKARNS waterway – a portion of the Arkansas River, which runs from Tulsa to the Mississippi River.
The Seeker’s maiden voyage began in March, and they dropped anchor in Dardanelle just a few days ago. Jackson and his crew plan to stay for a while, taking on more crew members until they set sail again on Oct. 15, planning another roughly 30-day journey to finally make it to the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, this offer is only open to previous crew and volunteers who have already worked on the Seeker.
Looking is free, though, and you’re not going to find many other chances to see a ship like the SV Seeker. If you sail out to meet her on Lake Dardanelle, near the Russellville Marina, you may even get the chance to board her and get a tour. Doug Jackson has offered open houses on most Saturdays, weather and schedule permitting. Check the SV Seeker Facebook group for more information and possible tour opportunities.