Beside the almost four miles of burly, worn standing rigging that supports the 89-foot mast of the tall ship Lady Washington (one of the two tall ships that will be visiting Marina del Rey from December 6th to 19th), a young girl of 15 leans against the thick lines and rants into her pink RAZR cell phone to a friend moments before departing on an Adventure Sail she is part of.
“It’s so old and weird,” she says grinning through a mouthful of braced teeth. “I feel like I’m in the Pirates of the Caribbean.”
The contrast of the girl aboard the 1750s replica couldn’t be more stark or illuminating. The circumstance speaks of how far we’ve come technologically from the days when these ships were cutting-edge sailing machines responsible for discovering the world we now circle in airplanes every day — a world that seems so small and thoroughly explored.
After hanging up the phone she’ll experience the roll of a 112-foot brig barreling through an ocean swell and get a small dose of a time completely removed from the automated push-button reality she moves through every day.
Looking around, she’ll see crewmen and crewwomen dressed in period costumes climbing the rig high into the air to tend to the tasks that get the ship under way. And with a little luck, she’ll begin to understand that if it weren’t for the existence of these creaky old relics, her life would be far different.
“If it weren’t for boats, we’d still be using bones for tools ñ I’m certain of that,” said Lady Washington’s skipper Bruce Royce. “Boats were one of the most important steps in the forwarding of human civilization that there ever was. Fire, water, the wheel, boats — these are core things.”
Royce, who is living a life-long dream running a tall ship, recognizes that preserving, replicating and operating these historic vessels is essential to reminding us where we’ve come from as a civilization.
“The skids have already been greased for so many kids in this world today,” said Royce. “They don’t understand that three or four generations back — in their family — there’s a good chance someone came over on a ship like this.
“When adults come on, they’re always amazed by all the stuff. Keeping that type of interest alive is very important to me.
“For the kids, who are living in a world where everything can be had by the push of a button — they see that on the ship, they have to put their backs into pulling lines on the boat and they begin to understand what a hard life the sailors had.”
Two ships, the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain, will be berthed in the Marina at 13999 Marquesas Way in C Basin and will be available for public dockside tours and sailings. There are also mock battles scheduled between the two ships.
Public dockside tours are scheduled:
Friday, December 7th, 4 to 5 p.m.;
Saturday, December 8th, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.;
Tuesday through Friday, December 11th to 14th, 4 to 5 p.m.;
Saturday, December 15th, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and
Tuesday, December 18th, 4 to 5 p.m.
A number of three-hour public sailings are scheduled. Adventure Sails, which demonstrate tall ship handling and lore, are scheduled Sundays, December 9th and 16th, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.;
Battle Sails, in which both vessels engage in a mock sea “battle,” are scheduled Sundays, December 9th and 16th, and Saturday, December 15th, 2 to 5 p.m.
Tickets for Adventure Sails are $55 for adults, $45 for seniors, students, and active military, and $35 for children under 12.
Tickets for Battle Sails are $60 for adults, $50 for seniors, students, and active military, and $45 for children under 12.
Reservations are strongly recommended, at (800) 200-5239.