Few are familiar with the term “tall ship”, but the Washington-based nonprofit Grays Harbor Historical Seaport is on a mission to change that. Their historic sailing ships, the Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain, travel the west coast year-round introducing the public to maritime history.

“Some people imagine a modern ship, or a Navy cutter,” Executive Director Brandi Bednarik shares with a smile. ‘Pirate ship’ comes pretty close, but it leaves out the truth of why ships like these sailed-mostly for trade, exploration, and in military action. Our mission is to share this history with the American public.”

From June 15 to June 18, the Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain will dock at Foss Waterway Seaport as part of the Festival of Sails Event. Dockside visitors can expect to tour the vessels and talk with the crew, while sailing passengers will experience the crew in action and the ship under wind power.
Festival of Sail® Tacoma 2017 promises to be the largest maritime event in the region’s history featuring ship tours, daily sailing excursions, educational programming, food and beverage service, entertainment and fun for the entire family!
For tickets and info, visitors can purchase from http://festofsailtacoma.com/festival/tickets/

Aside from the rare opportunity to see a historic sailing vessel in action, a point of interest is often the crew themselves. The Lady Washington typically has a crew of 10-14, from paid officers to volunteer deckhands to participants in our two-week maritime training program. Some sail for the fun of it, others to learn the job skills of the maritime industry. As Captain Ken Lazarus explains:

“Our vessels are a place where anyone can build a home. You can come aboard for two weeks as a trainee and experience what it’s like to live and work in a closely knit, interdependent community where effort and teamwork are the most valued ‘currency’. Some people stay on as long-term volunteers while others launch their careers in the maritime industry from our training. What everyone who crews the boats takes away is a sense of camaraderie, connection, and belonging.”

Launched in 1989 as part of Washington State’s centennial, the wooden-hulled Lady Washington has appeared in several motion pictures and TV shows, including Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, and Once Upon A Time. Constructed of steel, Hawaiian Chieftain was launched in 1988 in Lahaina, Hawaii.

If you’re ready to run away to sea, a full schedule of events, tickets, and volunteering information can be found on the organization’s website, www.historicalseaport.org. For the seasickness-prone but curious, free walk-aboard tours never leave the dock.