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Tall ships coming to Bellingham Bay, Blaine

The tall ships Lady Washington, left, and the Hawaiian Chieftain engage in a mock battle in Bellingham Bay in 2013.
The tall ships Lady Washington, left, and the Hawaiian Chieftain engage in a mock battle in Bellingham Bay in 2013. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

After a two-year hiatus, the tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain arrive this week for an extended visit along the Whatcom County waterfront, offering educational programs and sailing tours of Bellingham Bay and the Salish Sea.

Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain are seafaring museums, historical replicas that teach about the mariners who explored and traded along the Northwest coast in the late 1700s and early 1800s. They arrive in Bellingham on Tuesday, July 19, for two weeks of afternoon and evening sailing tours and daytime dockside tours. They leave Aug. 4 for Blaine, where they’ll offer tours and cruises as part of the annual Drayton Harbor Days activities Aug. 6-7.

We try to create an entertaining experience that’s also educational. Our mission is to translate maritime history, especially West Coast history.

Joe Follansbee, Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority

Both ships recall the lure of high seas adventure and the roar of cannon fire in naval skirmishes as featured in books and films, said Joe Follansbee, communications director for the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, where the ships are based.

“That’s very true for many people,” Follansbee said. “We try to create an entertaining experience that’s also educational. Our mission is to translate maritime history, especially West Coast history.”

Lady Washington, the official state ship, is a full-scale reproduction of a 112-foot square-rigged brig built in the 1750s. The original ship was an American trader, and in 1788 the Lady Washington was the first U.S. ship to land on the West Coast of North America. Lady Washington sailed a pan-Pacific trade route that included Hawaii, Hong Kong and Japan.

The reproduction ship, launched in 1989, has been featured in several movies, including “Star Trek: Generations” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series.

Topsail ketch Hawaiian Chieftain is a replica of a typical European trader and representative of the speedy merchant packet ships of the early to mid-1800s. The 103-foot, steel-hulled square-rigger. built on Maui, was launched in 1988.

Sailing tours last two to three hours and include “adventure sails” and “battle sails,” where the ships engage each other and fire their cannon (not live shells). Also featured are demonstrations of ship handling, and a chance to help steer the ship, conditions permitting.

“We invite people to come aboard and you can sit back and relax or you can participate by hauling a line, raise a sail, learn to sing a sea chanty,” Follansbee said. “We create the sense of fun within that educational context.”

Both ships will offer free dockside tours, with the crew in period costume available to answer questions. There is a requested donation of $5 per person.

A full sailing schedule is at historicalseaport.org.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @goMittygo

This article was changed to 7-19-2016 to reflect that recent research cannot confirm the belief that the Lady Washington was a Revolutionary War privateer.

Tall ships

What: Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain.

Where: Squalicum Harbor Gate 5, July 20-Aug. 3; Blaine Harbor, Aug. 5-7.

Cost: $35 to $75, with group and online booking discounts available. Dockside tours free, with $5 donation requested.

Info: Sailing schedule and to book tours, historicalseaport.org; 360-532-8611.

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