COOS BAY — Several ships cruised into Coos Bay for the inaugural Festival of Sail over the weekend, but one ship in particular stood out among the rest.
Billowing white sails and a dark brown hull characterize the Lady Washington.
It’s a replica of a ship by the same name that was originally built in the 1780s.
Despite being a product of the late 20th century, the vessel has the same appearance as something 200 years older.
Flying on the mast of the 112-foot long craft is a replica of the first American flag that sailed around Cape Horn.
John Morrison is a former captain of the Lady Washington. He’s somewhat of a seasoned veteran, he’s been on and off the ship since 2000.
He said people from all walks of life volunteer, from 86-year-old grandmas to high school graduates.
“There’s a romanticism some people have and then there’s the intrigue,” Morrison said.
He said most crewmembers only commit to three or four month contracts. After that he said you can go a little crazy being on the boat all the time.
AnnaLiese Dempsey is a steward on the ship. She said she initially got involved after taking a sail training course. Right now she’s getting her Ph.D. in nautical archaeology, which involves studying shipwrecks.
She said she’s only working on the boat for the summer.
When the Lady Washington isn’t doing festival events, it does a hands-on teaching program for fourth and fifth graders.
Morrison said the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain get 15,000 visitors a year combined.
The ship has also gotten some notoriety for its role as the Interceptor in Pirates of the Caribbean.
It has also been featured on the show “Once Upon a Time” and in a music video for one of rap artist Macklemore’s songs.
For Morrison, the capabilities of the ship are one of the most impressive parts of working on the vessel.
“When you get 220 tons of 18th century technology moving along at four or five knots using free energy just by working together,” Morrison said, “The subtlety of getting all those cogs working together efficiently is always a challenge.”
When things fall into place, crewmembers can do things like sail sideways and backwards.
“Some of the things these square riggers are able to do maneuverability-wise, blows most modern boats out of the water,” Morrison said, “Yeah were not fast, but we can spin on dime if we coordinate our sails right.”