They tied up at a couple of docks along the Edmonds waterfront where I often take walks, so I stopped by to take a look. A crew member had conveniently placed a step beside the Hawaiian Chieftain, and since he was offering his hand, I took it and climbed aboard.
Of the two ships, the Lady Washington is the larger one and the one with a more interesting story. She is the official tall ship of Washington State. But it wasn’t our state that gave her her name. She’s a full-scale replica of the original Lady Washington which was named after Martha Washington.
The original Lady Washington left Boston Harbor in 1787 and for the next ten years sailed the world. Here’s some of what she accomplished:
* She was the first American-flagged ship to sail around Cape Horn.
* She traded furs with Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest
and took part in the tea and porcelain trade in China.
* She was the first American-flagged vessel to reach Japan. Commodore Mathew Perry didn’t sail into Tokyo Bay until 62 years later.
* Another couple of firsts: visiting Honolulu and Hong Kong.
Finally, in 1797, after her short but history-making life, the Lady Washington foundered in the Philippines.
Her namesake has also had some shining moments. She appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; she was Captain Hook’s ship in Once Upon a Time; she played a prominent role in Blackbeard; and she was in the Macklemore video for Can’t Hold Us.
On more ordinary days, the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain and their crews visit ports up and down the West Coast where they educate students, welcome the curious, and offer cruises. When they were in Edmonds, they had a special eclipse cruise.
Nothing’s more graceful that a ship at full sail. But since the two ships didn’t hoist their sails while I was there, I missed out on that sight. I did, however, enjoy the patterns made by their ropes and riggings and the view of a daring man climbing the masts.