Cannon blasts today as tall ships dock in Port Townsend, Port Angeles

The last time four tall ships docked in Port Townsend and Port Angeles, they were working vessels, not tourist attractions.

Their giant masts — outsized telephone poles dressed in ropes and flags — probably didn’t draw a second look then.

But now, more than 80 years later, the sight of these jumbo sailing ships — three in Port Townsend and one in Port Angeles — is expected to back up traffic today.

There will be a mock battle this morning in Port Townsend Bay.

Part of the Tall Ships Festival 2002, the four ships are stopping along the North Olympic Peninsula after a week’s stay in Seattle, where they were on exhibit with other 16 other tall sailing ships from around the world.

Two are going on to Cape Flattery for a race down the coast beginning Wednesday afternoon, while the other two are headed for the San Juan Islands.

Battle re-enactment

Here’s what you can see this morning:

* Port Townsend: The Lady Washington, out of Aberdeen, Hawaiian Chieftain, out of Sausalito, Calif., and Cutty Sark, out of Whidbey Island, at Union Wharf.

The Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain, both replica ships built in the 1980s, will hold a mock head-to-head battle — complete with cannon blasts — from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today in the bay.

You can board the ships to be part of the battle re-enactment. Cost is $40 for adults and $20 for children. Wear flat, soft-soled shoes.

Afterward, the Hawaiian Chieftain, a 103-foot, square-topsail ketch, will offer a day sail around Port Townsend from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost is $40 for adults and $20 for children.

People can also tour the Hawaiian Chieftain for free between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

You can inspect its acres of shiny wood, climb up staircases so steep they might as well be ladders and talk with the crew members who race the vessel between ports.

The Lady Washington will depart following the battle for a five-day exploration of the San Juans.

The Cutty Sark, a 52-foot gaff-rigged ketch, has been commissioned by a private group — and will not participate in the battle or be open for public tours today.

The ship will set sail at 9 a.m. for the San Juans.

It arrived Monday afternoon, and Capt. John Stone said he provided free public tours to people who came down to the dock.

* Port Angeles: The 91-year-old, 185-foot, Amsterdam-based bark Europa is at City Pier.

Capt. Robert Vos said he is unsure if tours of the ship will be offered because so many paying passengers are aboard.

“We will decide tonight if tours will happen,” he said Monday night.

“It will depend on what the crew wants to do because this is their home right now.”

If tours do occur they will be this afternoon.

Vos was unsure if there would be a charge for tours.

Built in 1911, the bark has three masts. The foremast and mainmast are square-rigged, while the stern is rigged fore-and-aft.

Vos has been sailing it since 1994. Crowds flock to it wherever it goes, he says.

The ship is expected to remain at City Pier today while some crew members take Coho and Victoria Express ferries to Victoria to extend their visas, said Bill Larson of Port Angeles, a member of American Sail Training Association who is handling local arrangements.

* Cape Flattery: The Europa is expected to leave City Pier tonight or Wednesday morning and sail to Cape Flattery to join at least six other tall ships, including the Hawaiian Chieftain, for a race down the coast, with stops in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

If weather permits, people can make a short hike and view the beginning of the race from the Cape Flattery Trail lookouts in Neah Bay.

The three-quarters of a mile hike is over a well-maintained boardwalk, and there are five observation posts. Follow the road through the Makah Reservation to the start of the Cape Flattery Trail.

The race is expected to begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

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The rest of this story appears in the Tuesday Peninsula Daily News. Click on SUBSCRIBE to get the PDN delivered to your home or office.

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