Launched on March 7, 1989, the Lady Washington was built in Aberdeen, Washington, by Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public development authority. The new Lady Washington is a full-scale replica of the original Lady Washington.
In 1787, after the Revolutionary War, she was given a major refit to prepare her for a unprecedented trading voyage around Cape Horn. In 1788, she became the first American vessel to make landfall on the west coast of North America.
A pioneer in Pan-Pacific trade, she was the first American ship to visit Honolulu and Japan. Lady Washington opened the black pearl and sandalwood trade between Hawaii and Asia when King Kamehameha became a partner in the ship.
The modern Lady Washington, constructed as a brig, was thoroughly researched by historians and traditionally constructed by skilled shipwrights. She was launched as part of the 1989 Washington State Centennial celebration. The new Lady Washington is a U.S. Coast Guard inspected and certified passenger sailing vessel.
Over the years, Lady Washington has appeared in several motion pictures and television shows, including Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Star Trek: Generations, Once Upon A Time, and Revolution.
Lady Washington Statistics
Length on deck: 67 feet
Length on the waterline: 72 feet
Overall length: 112 feet
Draft (Depth): 11 feet
Beam (Width): 22 feet
Mast height: 89 feet
Displacement: 210 tons
Gross tonnage: 99 tons
Total sail area: 4,442 square feet
Rigging: Approximately six miles
Guns: Two three pounder; two swivels aft
Crew compliment: 12
Passenger capacity: 45
Lady Washington Timeline
- 1986: Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority chartered by the City of Aberdeen, Wash.
- 1987: Keel laid for Lady Washington on September 13
- 1989: Launched into the Wishkah River on March 7
- 1989: In May and June, conducts first tour of Puget Sound ports: Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Gig Harbor, Port Orchard, Bremerton, Everett, Anacortes, Bellingham, and Friday Harbor
- 1989: Lady Washington at home port of Aberdeen during July.
- 1989: In August and September, first tour of Columbia River ports, including Portland
- 1991: First trip to Canada, including ports of Sooke, BC, and Vancouver, BC
- 1993: First trip to California; first mock sea battle with Hawaiian Chieftain; makes movie debut in Star Trek: Generations
- 1998: First sailing partnership with Hawaiian Chieftain, which was later purchased by GHHSA
- 2003 – Sails to Caribbean for filming of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
- 2005: Lady Washington participates in cultural healing ceremony on Clayoquot Sound in Vancouver
Island with the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and the descendents of Robert Gray, master of the original
Lady Washington. (Gray had destroyed a native village in 1792.)
- 2005: GHHSA purchases Hawaiian Chieftain, which becomes Lady Washington’s companion ship.
- 2012: GHHSA completes major hull restoration project on Lady Washington.
- 2014: 25th anniversary of Lady Washington’s launch on March 7.
Fun Facts & Trivia
- The figurehead of Lady Washington was carved by Bob McCausland, a former cartoonist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer who retired in Westport, Wash.
- A number of coins are hidden on the Lady Washington. Traditionally, each time a mast is “stepped” or fitted onto the keel, a coin is placed at the base of the mast. In 1989, when the Lady Washington received her first mast, a silver coin was placed at the base. Later, during routine maintenance and mast replacements, more coins were placed. An estimated $1.75 in change is at the base of the current mast.
- Laid end to end, Lady Washington’s 156 lines of running rigging would extend three miles.
- The Lady Washington’s ceiling is under crew and passenger’s feet. On a wooden ship, the “ceiling” planks are horizontal planks of wood covering the inner part of the ship’s ribs from the keel upward along the hull.
- The original Lady Washington started out as a single-masted sloop when it was constructed in the 1750s. It was refitted as a two-masted brig before her voyage to the Pacific Northwest in 1787.
- In 1791, the original Lady Washington was the first American-flagged vessel to visit Japan and attempt to open trade, 62 years before Commodore Mathew Perry entered Tokyo Bay in 1853 with his US Navy squadron. The original Lady Washington was also the first American-flagged vessel to visit Honolulu and Hong Kong.