History on the high seas
What: Tall ship tours and sails during Drayton Harbor Days Festival
Where: Blaine Harbor Marina, 235 Marine Dr.
WHEN: Aug. 3-4
Cost: Suggested donation is $5 for tours; sails are $49-$79
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Lady Washington is celebrating her 30th birthday this year, but without knowing her backstory, the wooden-hulled tall ship might be mistaken for a much older dame.
The discrepancy isn’t because the 112-foot-long watercraft hasn’t aged well, but because when she was built in 1989 by Grays Harbor Historical Seaport—the educational nonprofit responsible for bringing the ship to life—it was in order to replicate the 18th century vessel of the same name that was the first American ship to make landfall on the West Coast.
Since then, Lady Washington 2.0 has had a heck of a journey. After being crafted in Aberdeen to commemorate the centennial of Washington’s statehood, she and her companion vessel, Hawaiian Chieftain, have visited as many as 30 West Coast communities each summer to offer educational tours and public sails. Additionally, she’s taken star turns in movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Trek: Generations.
When she docks at Blaine Harbor Marina July 31 in advance of the city’s annual Drayton Harbor Days Festival happening Aug. 3-4, those who step aboard Lady Washington will discover she’s about much more than her looks or celebrity status. Grays Harbor Historical Seaport’s mission is to “provide educational, vocational, recreational and ambassadorial activities and experiences that promote and preserve the maritime history of Grays Harbor, the Pacific Northwest and our nation,” and visitors should expect their time onboard to reflect that ethos.
Apparently, enough people have shown up at the dock thinking they’d be finding out more about evildoers who attack and rob ships at sea that organizers saw fit to note the subject matter up for discussion isn’t about pirates. Instead, the programs focus primarily on 18th century Pacific maritime history and trade.
“Our sailors are not historical re-enactors,” they say. “While we present certain programs in costume as an example of period attire, our crew’s primary skill set is in facilitating learning experiences for guests using the actual techniques of mariners part and present.”
While that’s all well and good, those who stand on the deck of the state ship of Washington watching the many sails billow in the breeze may not be immune to a little Jack Sparrow-induced role-playing. Just be aware there’s more to Lady Washington that meets the eye.
Starting Wed., July 31, schools can reserve space aboard the tall ship for “Voyage of Explorers” field trips. Beginning Friday, she’ll also be open to the public. The Hawaiian Chieftain won’t be in attendance during this year’s Drayton Harbor Days, so Lady Washington will be doing double duty. As such, it would be wise to book your passages in advance and be prepared for long lines for the tour. Oh, and you may want to leave your eye patch at home.
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