Tall Ships

The tall ship Hawaiian Chieftain floats dockside along the boardwalk in downtown Coos Bay during a past visit. The tall ships may not make it again to the area due to company changes.

COOS BAY — The City of Coos Bay may not host its annual Maritime Legacy Days festival this year because the company Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, who brings the tall ships the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain to the Port, is making some changes to its operations.

Last June, the U.S. Coast Guard inspectors discovered serious problems with the steel hull of the Hawaiian Chieftain, and have forbidden it to sail until the issues are resolved. It was discovered that the cost to repair the Hawaiian Chieftain would be more than the current value of the ship.

The ships Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain are prepped to set sail following a visit to the area. The tall ships are a popular attra…

After considering the loan that Grays Harbor carries on the Hawaiian Chieftain, the amount of money already invested into repairs in the past several years, and her profit and loss compared to other areas of the seaport, it made financial sense to sell the ship.

“The Hawaiian Chieftain was losing money, while the Lady Washington was making money. Due to the extensive upkeep on a boat like the Hawaiian Chieftain, because it’s made out of steel, they didn’t want to put in another $500,000 into fixing that,” said Tom Leahy of the Coos Bay Boat Building Center.

Currently out of water in Astoria, the Hawaiian Chieftain will travel back to its home port in Aberdeen, Wash., when weather permits. The ship will stay in Aberdeen until it’s sold. If funding for the repairs is found before the ship sells, Grays Harbor will reconsider their options at that time.  

Additionally, Grays Harbor has changed the Lady Washington’s schedule so that it spends more time in its home port in Aberdeen, where Grays Harbor is developing a maritime educational center called Seaport Landing.

“They’re changing their whole schedule so that they can spend more time in Washington,” Leahy said.

The education center will include a maritime museum and exhibits, a trade school, adult education and classroom space for maritime workforce development, an event center, shops and restaurants, hotel, floating pier and public waterfront access and longboat restoration and programming.

The Lady Washington and The Hawaiian Chieftain docked at the Coos Bay Boardwalk during a previous visit.

According to Leahy, he’s still talking with Grays Harbor about bringing the Lady Washington to Coos Bay, but is not sure it will happen yet.

“They’ve told me directly that they love coming to Coos Bay, and they’ll do everything that they can to make it down here, and it just might not be this year, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed,” Leahy said.

Down on the Coos Bay Boardwalk, folks show up to look at the tall ships, prompted by a treasure hunt during a previous Coos Bay Downtown Assoc…

Alternatively, there is a tall ship from Spain called the Santa Maria that the city and the Boat Building Center are looking into potentially visiting the South Coast instead of the Lady Washington.  

“There is an opportunity for another ship out of Spain, but we don’t know if they’ll be able to make it or not, or if it’s financially feasible,” Coos Bay City Manager Rodger Craddock said.

Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at worldnews5@countrymedia.net.

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