Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 27th
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Pirates of the Central Coast

lady washington_1A peek into life aboard the Pirates of the Caribbean ship

To hop aboard the Lady Washington is to take a step back in time. The 112-foot ship offers a glimpse into the life of sailors in the 1800s, with walk-on tours, sailing excursions and staff dressed in period clothing. The vessel, which is the official state ship of Washington, was docked in Moss Landing through today, Tuesday, Nov. 15.

The historically-accurate ship is a full-scale reproduction of the original Lady Washington, which was built in Massachusetts in the 1750s. In 1787, the original ship sailed around Cape Horn and became the first American vessel to land on the west coast of North America. The modern reproduction makes much shorter trips, sailing up and down the west coast and offering educational tours to local schools and other visitors.

In addition to providing tours, the Lady Washington has become a noted movie star. The ship made its move debut in 1994’s Star Trek: Generations and gained even more screen time in 2003, when it was featured in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Although the Lady Washington is safe by modern standards, it operates much the same way the original did in the 18th century. The vessel is manned by volunteers and paid employees who live on the ship full-time. Brothers Seth and Jordan Little have been living and working aboard the Lady Washington and its sister ship, the Hawaiian Chieftain for almost six months.

“Life on a boat is very different,” says Jordan. “We’ve got 15 people living in a 2,000-sqaure foot house that floats.”

Seth works on the Lady Washington as a deckhand, a jack-of-all-trades position integral in maintaining and sailing the ship. Jordan is the vessel’s educational coordinator, responsible for planning the ship’s many tours for local schools at each port.

“Our chief mission is the education of children on what life was like to be a sailor 200 years ago,” says Seth.

Although the ship’s primary purpose is education, it also serves as an on-the-job training program for aspiring sailors. Because the ship is a certified sail training vessel, the crew members are able to gain valuable experience to prepare them for a career as modern-day merchant sailors.

“We learn how to sail the boat,” says Seth. “We learn everything from knot work, to on-sea etiquette, to how maintain the boat and how to work the rigging.”

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