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You’ve never seen a maritime party quite like Drayton Harbor Days

Learn the history of the tall ship Lady Washington while she's in Bellingham

The tall ship Lady Washington has a fascinating past that's profoundly connected to early U.S. history and development of the Pacific Northwest.
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The tall ship Lady Washington has a fascinating past that's profoundly connected to early U.S. history and development of the Pacific Northwest.

Tall ships, Edwardian-era steamboats and swashbuckling pirates haul into Blaine this weekend for the annual Drayton Harbor Days, a free festival that celebrates the area’s maritime history.

It’s two days that are awash with vintage boats and a variety of events, races, games, arts and crafts, food vendors, live music and a pirate costume contest.

Highlighting the weekend are the tall ships Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain, dozens of old-fashioned steamboats and the popular Prestigious George Raft Race. Also featured are rides on the historic Plover foot ferry, a pirate costume contest and the Alaska Packers Association Cannery Museum, said Debbie Harger with the city of Blaine, which is one of the festival’s annual sponsors.

Events are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, and Sunday, Aug. 7, at the harbor, accessible via exit 276 on northbound Interstate 5. Go west toward the water, through the roundabout and you’ll be at the harbor, where there’s free parking. There’s also a Run to the Border 5K event at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and a pancake breakfast from 8-11 a.m. Saturday at the Blaine Senior Center, 763 G St. An outdoor family movie caps the day at 9 p.m. at Marine Park.

Judging for the pirate contest is at noon Saturday at the Blaine Harbor Boating Center, 235 Marine Drive. Most of the weekend events revolve around that site, including children’s activities.

Rides from Blaine Harbor to Semiahmoo Spit and back on the restored 1944 Plover foot ferry are from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $5 for adults, $1 for teens and free for those younger than 12. The Alaska Packers Association Cannery Museum, 9261 Semiahmoo Parkway, will be open across the harbor on Semiahmoo Spit; admission is free with donations accepted.

Both the state’s official tall ships – Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain – are making their northernmost port visit this summer during the festival.

Both ships are available for dockside tours at a $5 suggested donation per person. Tour schedule is noon to 5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, ; and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. Both ships offer sailing adventures over the weekend; book passage at historicalseaport.org or by calling 360-352-8611 or 800-200-5239.

Some 20 to 30 steamboats are scheduled to visit as part of the Northwest Steam Society’s annual meeting, said Richard Sturgill, a member of the festival’s planning committee.

Visitors also can enjoy a display of model boats fashioned from paper by a local folk artist.

The Prestigious George Raft Race is at 1 p.m. Saturday, featuring sailors and would-be sailors on vessels of their own creation – many of them cobbled together from recycled materials such as Styrofoam and empty milk jugs.

It starts at the public boat launch and ends at the visitor dock.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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