Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sea Adventures

The original Lady Washington was built in Massachusetts while it was still a British colony. The pretty little brig hauled freight up and down the colonial ports from 1750 until American Revolutionary War, when she became an American privateer. I can just imagine the nimble little brig clawing her way in and out of ports, delivering cargo in defiance of the British blockade, putting herself in constant danger. But she eluded British capture and in 1787, after the war, she won favor by 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.

Her career included trade to Honolulu, Hong Kong and Japan. Lady Washington opened the black pearl and sandalwood trade between Hawaii and the Orient. Only 67 feet long on deck (112 feet overall) this little brig would have been just a speck on the vast blue ocean, but she managed to make a big name for herself.

In 1989 this new carefully researched and constructed Lady Washington celebrated her launch and calls Grays Harbor, Washington her home. She spends her time providing sail training for seamen (and seawomen?) and even spent a short time acting in a movie filmed in the Caribbean. She sails with a crew of 12, can carry up to 48 passengers and boasts two, three pounders, and two swivel guns.

Would she have made a stand and fought an enemy ship when she was a privateer? Heck no. She would have run for her life.

I visited her a couple years ago at the Rose Festival in Portland. Her crew cheerfully and knowledgeably answered all my dozens of questions. My thanks to the many people who make the Lady Washington possible and accessible.


  1. A fine lady of the sea she is. And what an exciting life she led

  2. Are you doing your research on the Lady Washington? Is that where you are going to spend a whole day in the rain?

  3. Yes. I'm bringing my sabre and I'm ready to fend off pirates. Aarrrr.


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