Back in February Theresa and I flew down to San Francisco to see our son Isaac who is currently employed as Steward on the historical sailing vessel The Lady Washington. It was a quick whirlwind of a trip, but the incredible aspect was that Isaac had arranged for us to sign ship articles (along with a waiver), and train with the crew.

The Lady Washington (Original)

Named in honor of Martha Washington, she originally was a 90 ton brig that was part of Capt. Robert Gray’s  Columbia Expedition which left for the Pacific Northwest in 1787. As such, she holds quite a few ‘firsts’, most notably the first American vessel to sail around Cape Horn.

A pioneer in Pan-Pacific trade, she was the first American ship to visit Honolulu, Hong Kong and Japan. Lady Washington opened the black pearl and sandalwood trade between Hawaii and Asia when King Kamehameha became a partner in the ship.

She eventually foundered at the mouth of the Mestizo River in the Philippines in 1797.

The Lady Washington (Replica)

The replica, which we were told is  95% accurate above the waterline, was built in Aberdeen, WA in time for the 1989 Washington State Centennial celebrations.

Named “Washington State’s Tall Ship Ambassador”, as well as the State Ship, the new Lady Washington is operated by a professional and volunteer crew under the auspices of the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority. She sails up and down the Pacific coast, regularly in pair with Hawaiian Chieftain, educating students in the history of merchant trading, life of common sailors, and responsibilities of the ship’s officers.

The current replica’s mainmast is rigged with a topgallant sail and topsail above a gaff mainsail, as based on the post-Macau refit configuration.


Despite some of the worst traffic I’ve had the misfortune of driving in, we arrived bright and early to meet the crew and begin our training. With my background in sailing many of the lines and their purpose were familiar. However, there was plenty that was new to me.

And climbing up the ratlines, and over the topmast, where you are actually suspended upside down as you make your way to the next level of shrouds was either the highlight or downfall of the training. I’m a bit undecided as the moment.

Still it was a great day to be  no the waters of Oakland Bay trading  shots with The Hawaiian Chieftain.

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