A few days after returning to Bellingham from my month-long road trip around the American west, I embarked on a totally
different type of adventure. I had read in the Bellingham Herald newspaper that a 112-foot, two-masted tall ship called the
Lady Washington was berthing for a few days in the Anacortes marina, about 30 miles away. For $50, you
could board the ship and participate in a staged battle with a similar sailing ship out of on the “high seas” – well actually, the
calm waters of the Puget Sound.
Here's a great sailing song. These are the Beach Boys singing Sloop John B.
The Lady Washington is a replica of the original Lady Washington ship from the 1700s. Named after George Washington's
wife, the original ship sailed from the east coast around Cape Horn
in 1788 and then became the first American vessel to make landfall on the west coast of America and explore the Northwest.
The replica ship, launched in Washington in 1989, has appeared in several movies and TV shows, including "Pirates of the
Caribbean" and "Star Trek: Generations." You can even sail on the Lady Washington for a week
or two as a volunteer. For more information about the Lady Washington, check out their website
I love old sailing ships so I couldn’t pass up the chance for this three-hour “battle sail.” Here are some photos of my
high seas adventure, matey:
Above left: This is the Lady Washington, the largest square-rigger on the West Coast. For $50,
I got to ride on a three-hour "battle sail" in Anacortes.
Above center: Welcome aboard, mateys.
Above right: Sails ready to be unfurled.
Above left: Sailing a square-master takes an awful lot of work and the crew hustled for the entire three
hours. I just took pictures and tried to stay out of the way.
Above center: The crew was constantly shuttling back and forth, pulling on one line or another.
Above right: "Avast, mateys -- unfurl those sails!"
Above left: This was our opponent for the day, the Hawaiian Chieftain.
Above center: The lively main deck was filled with crew and passengers.
Above right: Preparing to fire a broadsides at our nemesis.
Above left: "Prepare to Fire!" "Fire When Ready!" "Fire in the Hole!"
BOOM! This cannon was loud! Well, I guess most cannons are.
Above center: Firing the swivel gun.
Above right: And swabbing down the swivel gun after firing. This gets rids of the sparks inside so you can load
another round of gunpowder.
Above left: The Chieftain approached us closely. Very closely. So closely that our captain became concerned.
Above center: "Hoist those lines, you darned scalawags! And pay no attention to my pink polka dot shirt."
Above right: The Hawaiian Chieftain firing a broadsides with Mt. Baker in the distance. What an amazing sail, huh?
Cruising in British Columbia
My next boat trip was even better. Shortly after the Lady Washington battle sail, my brother Don and his wife Debbie flew
out to Washington from their home in Connecticut and visited us for several weeks. They had chartered a 46-foot Grand Banks
motor yacht that was berthed in the Bellingham marina for two weeks for a fee that, I’m sure, exceeds my annual salary (or at least
my annual salary this past year). My dad and I joined them on a week-long boating trip into the Gulf Islands of
southern British Columbia, up the coast, and into a rugged and spectacular area on the B.C. coast called Princess Louisa Inlet.
Above: Don and Debbie on the stern of Claudicus, a 46-foot Grand Banks they rented for two weeks.
My family has sailed throughout the Puget Sound, San Juan Islands and Canada's Gulf Islands many
times during the past 30 years on various sailboats that we had either chartered or owned. My dad,
being a former Navy man, is an avid sailor and, after owning several smaller sailboats, in 1985 he
bought a beautiful 40-foot sloop which he called the Ilikai II.
A few years later in 1989, my dad and I spent six weeks sailing his boat from southeastern
Alaska back to Anacortes, an incredible 1,500-mile voyage, and we were
joined by my brother Dwight for a week in Alaska as we cruised through Glacier Bay and other
interesting places. So my family is well-steeped in boating.
But we weren’t quite ready for a 46-foot Grand Banks. My dad, Don and Debbie and I walked down to the Bellingham marina
the afternoon before we were scheduled to depart, to take a look at the boat. It was huge. Massively huge. We all did a collective, “Gulp!”
when we first saw the boat, tied up there in the marina. Jeez, what did we get ourselves into, we wondered? The next morning, though,
we were given an hour-long shakedown cruise and some training, which eased some of our jitters. Still, this was not like sailing
the 30- or even 40-foot sailboats that we were used to. Nevertheless, by the end of the trip we all felt a bit more comfortable with it.
After a week of sailing north, Don and Debbie’s daughters Caity and Sarah arrived with Caity’s husband and joined us in British Columbia,
while my dad drove back to Bellingham. We spent a week cruising around the islands between Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland
before heading back to Bellingham. It was quite a trip and one that I’ll never forget.
Above left: My dad, sister Doti and brother Don and his wife Debbie at the Marina Restaurant in Bellingham the evening before our departure.
Above center: After dinner we walked down to the marina to see the boat Don had rented for two weeks. Gulp! Jeez, this thing is big.
Above right: Don with his huge cache of groceries. It looks like about two weeks worth.
Above left: The salon of the Grand Banks 46 we rented. During the two weeks, I spent almost no time down here.
I was topside almost the entire trip.
Above center: My dad, with his famous red hat, boarding the dinghy at Nanaimo harbor on Vancouver Island, our first stop.
Above right: The next day we headed over to the B.C. mainland. This is Pender Harbour.
Above left: Don is always happy when he's on a boat -- even a dinghy.
Above center: Heading out the next morning bound for Princess Louisa Inlet. Don and my dad are at the helm.
Above right: After passing through a narrow channel at slack tide, we entered Princess Louisa Inlet. It's
something like Yosemite Valley but filled with seawater.
Above left: Heading up Princess Louisa Inlet.
Above center: My first task was to round up some oysters for dinner. It was easy because they were everywhere.
Above right: The stern of our boat, Claudicus.
Above left: Don and my dad relaxing before dinner at Princess Louisa Inlet.
Above center: And a short time later we had dinner: Don's steaks and my oysters. Bon appetite.
Above right: Our anchorage was a short ways from Chatterbox Falls, which is at the end of Princess Louisa Inlet. It's pretty spectacular.
Above left: Chatterbox Falls is a great place to drop the anchor and kick back.
Above center: Don and Debbie at Powell River marina.
Above right: It was a great trip and I can't wait to go back!