Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Announces New Partnership with Tongue Point Job Corps

Tongue Point Job Corps students from Astoria, Oregon have a new internship opportunity—to join the crew of tall ships Hawaiian Chieftain and Lady Washington sailing the Pacific.

Grays Harbor Historical Seaport and Tongue Point Job Corps announced the new partnership on April 28th, 2017 after piloting the program with 4 students. The first wave of students joined the vessels in Oakland, California and are over halfway through their 45 day internships, sailing north from the Bay Area and disembarking in Newport, Oregon. They’ll be learning maritime job skills aboard brig Lady Washington and topsail ketch Hawaiian Chieftain. Internships and on the job learning are standard practice for both organizations, but this is the first formal partnership Tongue Point has made with sailing vessels.

Rudy Perez, 19, of Wilmington, CA, gets ready to coil a sheet on the bow of Hawaiian Chieftain.

Intern Rudy Perez (19, Wilmington, CA) spelled out how sailing can help prepare the students for their exams, explaining: “Everything is done manually [on the tall ships]. You’ve got to haul everything… Seeing it on paper, that’s only theory. But then actually getting your hand on it, you’re pulling, you’re tying everything. Being more hands on with everything will help me.” Tongue Point Job Corps is a national training and employment program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. It primarily enrolls economically disadvantaged youth aged 16 to 24 and provides an education in the trades at no cost to the student. The Seamanship program is one of sixteen career and technical programs offered at Tongue Point. Graduates can be qualified for the US Coast Guard endorsements of Able Seafarer, Qualified Member of the Engine Department, Steward, and STCW-95, plus earn a high school diploma or GED.

Grays Harbor Historical Seaport is a nonprofit based in Aberdeen, Washington that operates two tall ships as platforms for maritime history education and sail training.

“Our focus is adult sail training and Age of Sail history for schoolchildren,” shares Executive Director Brandi Bednarik. “We employ professional crews of 7 for each vessel, but our deckhands are volunteers. Bringing on Tongue Point students as deckhand interns is truly a win-win. This new partnership helps us fulfill our mission of getting young people to sea, and breaking down the economic barriers to sailing and maritime job training.”

By joining the tall ships for 45-day live aboard internships, Tongue Point students will have daily opportunities to apply what they have learned in the classroom. While the students get underway weekly on M/V Ironwood, Tongue Point’s training vessel, for most Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain will be their first time aboard a sailing ship,
giving them exposure to more of the Pacific coastline.

The education the students receive in watch standing, line handling, safety and cleaning duties makes them a welcome addition to the current crew. “They have been a real asset to the day to day functioning of the ship are very quick learners on the sail handling and at sea operation” says Hawaiian Chieftain Captain Garry Heinrich. Captain Heinrich is also impressed with the cadet’s teaching abilities, “They interact very well with the schoolchildren that come aboard for our educational sails and are doing a great job of passing their knowledge on”.

Kianta Lee, 21, of Chesapeake, VA looks up at the rigging of Hawaiian Chieftain while coiling a line.

The historical aspect is an added bonus for John LaPier (19, Battleground, WA), “I was absolutely fascinated –the fact that I could come on to a ship and learn where we started”. Speaking about historical maritime navigation, he adds “yeah it’s nice to work on a fancy new tugboat with all this new equipment, but what happens if all that fails? Eventually we’re going to have to come back to this”. Cadets also had to adjust to regular activities aboard a tall ship. Jacob Jordan had to get used to living in such close quarters, and Kianta Lee had to adjust to limits on showers when the ship has no fresh water access. Each cadet though is finding their own strengths and enjoying the work more each day. Kianta’s goal is to become a Tankerman on a west coast vessel, while Jacob and John are most interested in tugboats.

At the conclusion of their internships, the first four Tongue Point students will return to Astoria to continue their training. They will take with them many required work hours needed for their future marine certifications, as well as the knowledge of historical sailing traditions. In their place, the next wave of interns will arrive to the tall ships to start the learning process anew.

Jacob Jordan, 21, of Corona, CA, furls a sail on the main mast of Lady Washington.

Tongue Point Program Director Capt. Len Tumbarello summarizes, “The golden opportunity to have our cadets sail on the Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain is priceless and is in direct alignment with program goals. We are excited and fortunate for this new partnership with Grays Harbor Historical Seaport and look forward to strengthening this relationship over time”.

To learn more about Job Corps call 1-800-733-JOBS or visit for more information.

For more information on Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, or to schedule an interview with the crew, please contact Development Officer Caitlin Stanton at 503-475-2248 or email Additional photographs available on request, or by visiting