in Marina until next Tuesday

BY PAT REYNOLDS

Back in the days when Paul Revere was just a teenager, the tall ship Lady Washington (in her original form) was beginning her career as a merchant ship out of Boston.

Today, a working replica of the ship that spent much of her life touring the Pacific Northwest trading with Native Americans, sits in front of Fisherman’s Village and is open for tours and day trips.

This “museum on water” will be stationed there until Tuesday, December 27th, and will then head farther down the coast from community to community, continuing its mission to educate people.

The original Lady Washington was built in 1750 and spent most of her life as a merchant ship.

She traveled around Cape Horn, traded in China and was the first American vessel to ever land in Japan, but she spent many of her years along the coast of the Pacific Northwest trading with Native Americans.

Originally, the ship was a sloop (single mast, fore and aft rigged) but was refit as a brig (double mast and square rigged) in the late 1700s.

Although the ship in its current form is always traveling, her homeport is Grays Harbor, Washington.

The inspiration to replicate this ship was based on the amount of time and exploration that Lady Washington had done in the Pacific Northwest, but more importantly her relevance to the history of Grays Harbor itself.

Grays Harbor County is named after Captain Robert Gray, who was the first American to circumnavigate the globe and was also a captain on Lady Washington and her partner ship the Columbia Rediviva, the first American ship to go around the world.

“When she made the voyage to the West Coast, the Lady Washington started out under the command of Robert Gray,” said Grays Harbor marine operations manager Bob Kennedy.

“Then when they came over to the west side, he met up with captain John Kendrick, his partner, and they switched boats.”

Since the Lady Washington has been reincarnated, her mission is to act as an educational tool for the communities she visits.

School groups, particularly fourth- and fifth-graders, are booked all the way down the West Coast, and in the summer there are camp-type programs as well.

The boat sails just as she did back in the 1700s, but with a bit more modern safety and navigational equipment and she travels with a crew somewhere between 12 and 20 that includes both paid crew and volunteers.

On this recent trip, they came down from Aberdeen, Washington and stopped in Sausalito, Sacramento, Moss Landing, and Marina del Rey.

“The trip down to Sausalito was rough as all get-out,” said ship’s steward Beth “Stan” Knouff.

“We had 15-to-20-foot swells and it was pretty hardcore, but the rest of the trip was like sailing on a lake.”

Once the ship arrives in a port, school groups that have been booked are ready for a three-hour tall ship experience.

“We teach them how to handle the lines, put the sails up and we also have classes,” said Knouff. For instance, we have a sailor class where we teach them about what it was like to be a sailor back then.

“We also have a navigation class where they learn about being an officer and how to navigate the boat.

“Then there is a segment about trade — which is what the Lady Washington did — and we teach them about that.

“It’s a fantastic program for kids of that age. They just love it.”

The crews on these ships are young, adventurous men and women who bounce from ship to ship exploring different areas of the world.

Many times, they start as two-week volunteers and then end up staying and sailing or working on a given ship.

After they’ve built up a base of experience, there is always another ship traveling somewhere that can utilize their skills and services.

Since it is difficult and often uncomfortable work, ships are always in need of good people.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to travel and learn about work ethic and interacting with the public and things like that,” Knouff said. “But it’s kind of a hard way of living and it’s intense being around the same people all the time. You don’t have very much privacy.

“It’s common for people to hop from one boat to the next because they like the sailing and it’s fun to change up the atmosphere.”

So the Lady Washington will soon leave Marina’s fair port and move farther south and bring this unique traveling slice of history along with her.

Information, tall ship tours and educational programs, (800) 200-5239 (200-LADY).

Public tour times and public sail times are on the next page.

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