Lady Washington makes appearance
June 12, 2008 · Updated 10:07 AM
"Don't be surprised to catch a glimpse of an incredibly tall, wooden sailing vessel, virtually pulled straight out of the 18th century, at the Port Orchard Waterfront Monday afternoon.Though Aberdeen, Wash., is her homeport, the Lady Washington, a full-scale replica of the first American ship to explore the Pacific Northwest Coast, will drop anchor in Sinclair Inlet all next week.She will first set sail from Bainbridge Island at noon on Monday, and arrive at the Port Orchard Marina around 4:30 p.m.Once at the marina, the Lady Washington will be open for several dockside, historical tours, and prospective sailors can catch a ride aboard her as she embarks on at least two, three-hour tours before returning to Port Orchard.Depending on tastes, folks can either sit back and enjoy the scenery on such tours, or actually learn to help the ship's crew to sail her.That could mean hauling away at a halyard or standing a trick at the tiller.Launched in March 1989, the ship is cared for by the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Association, a non-profit group that constantly strives to inform others about Northwest Maritime history.Members say the original Lady Washington, typically sailed from the East Coast, around Cape Horn and on up to the Pacific Northwest starting in 1788. The Lady was a merchant ship, and usually carried skins, pelts and tea, which, in turn, were traded to Native Americans for items such as beads and unique-looking shells. Visitors might notice the replica is primarily constructed of old-growth Douglas Fir.The State of Washington, more than 11 years ago, spearheaded the construction of the vessel as one way to celebrate the state's 100-year anniversary.Officials eventually granted Aberdeen homeport status for the Lady, which is the state's and Grays Harbor County's only Tall Ship Ambassador, because the logging town was still reeling from halts in lumber production.Officials thought the ship could bring tourism to the county and rejuvenate the seaport.The historical society said the plan has worked, to a certain extent, and now members are taking the vessel on the road.The Lady Washington is often used as an educational tool for fifth and sixth graders, college students and those who just want to continue their education. During the winter months, the Lady travels to California beaches to spread the word about Northwest maritime history.Overall, the Lady Washington is 112 feet long and, above deck, she is 65-feet long. A crew consisting of 12 sailors is required to operate the vessel."