The tall lady’s back in town for another visit

Published on Thu, Aug 1, 2002 by Mikael Kenoyer

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The tall lady’s back in town
for another visit

By Mikael Kenoyer

A piece of 18th century history will glide into Drayton Harbor August 5. Washington States Tall Ship Ambassador, the Lady Washington, is returning to Blaine for her third visit.
She’s not the same Lady that brought the first white man, Captain Robert Gray, to the Oregon coast in 1788, or the same American vessel, first to visit Japan in 1791. The original Lady went down with all hands in 1812 off the coast of China.

The Lady that will grace Blaine waters was launched in 1989 by the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority (GHHSA) in Aberdeen, WA. She was built of Olympic Peninsula old growth Douglas Fir windfall to recall the original vessel as closely as possible. Poorly kept historical records and US Coast Guard regulations made it impossible to recreate the ship precisely. The new ship has higher overhead clearances, watertight bulkheads and a fire suppression system.

While she is also equipped with an engine, the crew would rather do what the Lady does best, sail. “We sail whenever we can and motor only when we must,” said Mark Olson, alumni crew member.

Olson said the crew is dedicated to the educational aims of GHHSA, and strives to create an atmosphere of living history for visitors to the ship. Dressed in 18th century sailors garb, the crew of about 12 has a near perfect stage to perform their sailing duties as they would have been performed on the original Lady.

Like the ship itself, some things about the sailors lives have changed. Dietary habits are better, for one, and the people are different. Olson said that while the Lady’s youngest captain, 22, and youngest sailmaster, 13, were accurate to sailings past, he was an oddity. “I am far too big and far too old to be one of those that would have been skylarking in the past,” he said. “I would have either owned the vessel by now, been her master or mate, or been dead.” Olson is not yet 40.

The Lady sails in at 4:30 p.m. Monday from Bellingham. Bill Goff is planning a cannon salute from the end of the fishing dock, which she will return. The chamber of commerce plans, once again, to greet the ship on the dock with a champagne toast. “We’d certainly love for everyone to come and welcome the Lady Washington,” said chamber president Pam Christianson, adding that while the chamber can’t provide champagne for everyone, “its fun to watch her come in.” She said that tours, which otherwise cost $3 adult, $2 senior, $1 child, are usually given free for the first few hours the Lady is docked. Ken Ely is again inviting local boaters to come out and welcome the Lady to the harbor.

The ship will remain in Blaine until August 7. Three sailing tours, each three hours, are planned, and space can be reserved by calling
1-800-200-5239. Tours are $40 adult, $20 child. The Lady’s living history program, where crew will give demonstrations and history lessons, is on between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., and tours are offered until 6 p.m. .

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