Tall Ships take you back to the 18th Century and the Era of Buccaneers…
Under a brilliant blue sky, the helmsman cut the trolling motor. The silence was complete. The 112-footlong “tall ship” wallowed in gentle swells that felt much stronger than their size.
There was no denying the power of the ocean around us. My hands gripped the nearest solid wood to steady myself against the roll. First-time sailors, my girlfriend and I caught glances and smiled. Here we were, senior citizens, ticking off a bucket list dream.
Wind whipped the sails. Wood creaked. Sailors, dressed in well-worn period garb, worked the rigging. Raising 4442 feet of sails using over 6 miles of ropes, (called rigging), and then rotating the angles of the masts to catch the wind is a complex job. It requires teamwork and precise orchestration.
Then the wind caught, the sails billowed and the ship surged forward cutting smoothly through the waves. We were sailing on the ocean.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the first mate shouted over the noise of the wind. “You are traveling at the speed that conquered the world.” The wind whipped and billowed the tall ship’s sails. The first mate shouted commands. Sailors chanted replies over the sound of ocean swells meeting the hull.
Skillfully, the sailors guided the brig back into the long jetty that protects the Newport, Oregon harbor. Just off starboard, a kayaker skimmed across the water, keeping pace with little difficulty. Gulls cried, sails whipped, rigging groaned.
A dozen crew and 45 enchanted guests sailed for the next 45 minutes before heading Lady Washington back to dock. As sailors, both male and female tend to the ship, their bawdy songs provide a tempo for the work.
One of the crew sat on the deck, gathering children around her and exploring the contents of a sailor’s rucksack and telling stories. Shutters clicked as passengers tried to capture the moment. Eighty-nine feet above us the peak of the main mast towered. There is no experience like it.
Lady Washington is called a tall ship because of the height of her sails. She is a full-scale replica of the original Lady Washington. Following the Revolutionary War, the original ship was refitted and set on an adventure. She sailed around the horn in 1778 to become the first US vessel to sail the Pacific and reach the west coast. From there she traveled for the next 10 years around the vast Pacific Ocean on trading missions.
The modern Lady Washington was launched in 1989. She is dedicated to bringing the magic of the age of tall ships to locals and visitors up and down the west coast. Her goal to educate, excite and preserve the history of the era.
Her home is in Gig Harbor, Washington but Lady Washington spends much of her time with her crew at sea. She is famous, having appeared in several movies including “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Black Pearl.” Each year in December she departs with her companion the Hawaiian Chieftain. The two tall ships sail from Gig Harbor to San Diego, CA.
Slowly, they sail back up the west coast with numerous ports of call. School children are given tours. Living history. The public may also pay to tour the ships while docked or go for a sail. If you want to go sailing, buy your tickets early as they generally sell out in advance in every port.
A limited number of guests are allowed to book passage and travel between ports with the crew. There are restrictions for these guests available on their website.
Because these are accurate historical replicas they are not handicapped accessible. But there is always a ready hand to assist guests safely on and off the ship. For complete information on the Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain, their history and their schedule please visit http://historicalseaport.org/. Step back into history and enjoy the age and magic of the era of Buccaneers.
One of my readers commented they’d like to experience sailing but had physical challenges. Not a problem. There are companies that specialize in helping every level of ability enjoy sailing. Here are three links I found:
Enjoy your adventure!!!
Author: Judith Culp is a freelance wellness travel writer. She is a member of the International Travel Writers & Photographers Alliance as well as the Professional Writer’s Alliance.