Grays Harbor Historical Seaport
Captain Gray’s discovery of the harbor in the 18th century was only the beginning of what was to become the area’s love affair with the sea. The calm waters of the harbor and the ready supply of timber made Aberdeen an ideal shipbuilding headquarters from its early beginnings in the 19th century. Between 1887 and 1920 her port saw off some 130 new ships.
Today the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport (813 West Heron St., Aberdeen, 360/532-8611, www.historicalseaport.org) highlights the rich maritime heritage of the region, acting as host to two magnificent tall ships. The first, Lady Washington, is a full-scale replica of one of the ships in Gray’s discovery fleet.
This fluttering spectacle of spindly masts and oiled decks carries the honor of sailing as Washington State’s Official Ship and is typically in the historical seaport at least two months out of the year along with her companion ship, the Hawaiian Chieftain, a steel-hulled, topsail ketch. (The rest of the year they are featured in maritime and tall-ship festivals up and down the West Coast).
While in port, Lady is open for tours (10 a.m.–1 p.m. daily, $3 adults, $2 seniors and students, $1 children) and offers outstanding three-hour sailing trips most afternoons and weekend evenings ($55 adults, $45 children). The crew is entirely in costume. Schedules change year by year, so be sure to check the Seaport website for up-to-date information.
You might also ask about volunteering aboard the Lady. This is not for everyone—simple food, cramped quarters, limited water, and lots of hard work—but at least you aren’t subjected to floggings or surgery without anesthesia. No grog either. This is an incredible chance to learn about sailing the old-fashioned way.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition