Tall ships are sailing the San Juans. And you can join in on the adventure

John and Ginger Loveless took this photo on Aug. 14, 2002 of the Lady Washington going under the Deception Pass Bridge. For more photos of the Lady Washington and her companion ship, Hawaiian Chieftain, visit - John and Ginger Loveless /
John and Ginger Loveless took this photo on Aug. 14, 2002 of the Lady Washington going under the Deception Pass Bridge. For more photos of the Lady Washington and her companion ship, Hawaiian Chieftain, visit
— image credit: John and Ginger Loveless /

You won’t get to play Capt. Jack Sparrow, but you’ll be forgiven if your imagination goes wild.

The tall-ship Lady Washington — the official boat of Washington state, used in the filming of the “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” — and her companion ship Hawaiian Chieftain are visiting the San Juan Islands this week and next.

And there’s still time to go aboard and enjoy an adventure at sea before heading back to school next month.

The ships, homeported in Aberdeen, moored Sunday at Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes. The ships recently participated in Tall Ships Challenge events in Victoria, B.C., Tacoma, and Port Alberni, B.C.

In Anacortes, the crew is hosting families, young people and the general public for a variety of hands-on shipboard education opportunities.

The family expedition voyage began Monday. But on Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., you can tour the tall ships (a $3 donation appreciated) and be a part of three hours of booming cannons and close-quarters maneuvers, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. both days. You’ll have to book a spot on that voyage; visit or call (800) 200-5239.

And there’s time for younger sailors to experience summer camp at sea; the Youth Expedition Voyage for ages 12-18 is Aug. 11-15. Participants sail the San Juan Islands, following in the wake of maritime explorers George Vancouver, Robert Gray and Charles Wilkes.

After boarding in Anacortes, each camper learns to set sail, stand watch, and take the helm. The watches also submit daily log entries tracking their progress to, which can be read by family and friends.

At each stop, passengers explore the island with trained naturalists. In the evening, participants discuss the expedition’s findings and develop a plan for the next day. And there’s time for a day hike and a brisk swim.

Launched on March 7, 1989, the Lady Washington was built in Aberdeen by Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, a non-profit public development authority.

The Lady Washington is a full-scale reproduction of the original Lady Washington. Built in Massachusetts in the 1750s, the original vessel carried freight between colonial ports until the American Revolutionary War, when she became an American privateer. In 1787, after the war, she was given a major refit to prepare her for an unprecedented trading voyage around Cape Horn. In 1788, she became the first American vessel to make landfall on the west coast of North America.

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.

The modern Lady Washington was thoroughly researched by historians and constructed by skilled shipwrights. She was launched as part of the 1989 Washington State Centennial celebration. The new Lady Washington meets all of the U.S. Coast Guard safety requirements for a 21st-century ship.

Lady Washington has an overall length of 112 feet, with an 89-foot mast, gross tonnage of 99 tons, a crew of 12 and a passenger capacity of 48.

The Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority owns and operates Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain. The authority describes its mission this way: “... to provide educational, vocational, recreational and ambassadorial activities and experiences that promote and preserve the maritime history of the Pacific Northwest and the nation ...”

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