Tall ships to escort canoes down Pacific coast
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Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
The Lady Washington, Washington state’s official ship, sails around her companion ship, Hawaiian Chieftain, as the two stage a pirate battle in Sequim Bay last week.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

NEAH BAY — When more than 100 canoes depart from Neah Bay on July 26 on their way to the Quinault reservation for the 2013 Paddle to Quinault Canoe Journey, they will come under the watchful eyes of the crews of the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain.

The pair of tall ships will provide safety and logistical support for the canoe families while they are in the open Pacific Ocean and will join them in celebration of the historic 1788 first meeting between the original Lady Washington and the tribes.

“Two rich maritime cultures will be moving down the coast together,” said Les Bolton, executive director of the nonprofit Grays Harbor Seaport Authority, which is based in Aberdeen and operates the wooden replica brig Lady Washington and the sloop Hawaiian Chieftain, a modern steel-hulled tall ship.

225th anniversary

The year 2013 marks the 225th anniversary of the arrival of the original Lady Washington — rigged as a sloop — on the Washington coast, the first U.S. ship to visit the region, Bolton said.

“This is quite an honor for us to participate,” he said.

Bolton also noted that the Lady Washington and the Canoe Journeys were both “born” in 1989, as part of the Washington State Centennial celebrations.

He said the trip will be recorded and compiled into an educational program about the history of coastal trading in the early years.

“We're hoping we can capture the imagery and get the stories [about the arrival of the first trading ships] from the elders,” he said.

Initially, the tribes and the ships traded pelts and other Pacific Northwest products for steel tools and weapons.

The tribes had a sophisticated trade network already set up, Bolton noted.

“There were savvy traders on the coast,” he said.

There will be no tickets sold for the voyage, but the canoes and tall ships are expected to be near enough to land to be viewed from coastal overlooks, such as the Cape Flattery overlook on Cape Loop Road, west of Neah Bay.

Support ships

Bolton explained that the ships will be acting as support ships for the canoes at sea and will have an emergency room doctor and an emergency medical technician on board to take care of medical emergencies.

Because of the shallow bays and lack of docks where the canoes will be pulling in each afternoon, the ships will remain at sea overnight, Bolton said.

Once the canoes reach their final landing at Point Grenville, about 4 miles south of Taholah, the tall ships will travel to the next port of call in Blaine, north of Bellingham near the Canadian border.

Combining the tall ships and the Canoe Journey for the weeklong ocean-going event is the result of cooperation between the Historic Seaport, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Quinault Indian Nation.

“Tribal Journeys reminds us that the ocean connects us all. Today, we celebrate that connection by remembering our rich history and writing history for the future,” said Robert Steelquist, education and outreach coordinator for the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 13. 2013 5:33PM
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