On Saturday, September 3, eleven Mature Friends ventured out into Lake Washington aboard the tall ship Lady Washington for an eighteenth-century experience of a lifetime.
Seven of the Eleven
As we cruised out onto the lake, another ship, the Hawaiian Chieftain, filled with “pirates” attacked us. Both ships are full-scaled replicas of original ships, and they have appeared in numerous movies and television shows. Unlike last year, the weather cooperated and the cruise went on full blast … literally.
The original Lady Washington served the country during the Revolutionary War and was the first American vessel to make landfall on the west coast of North America in 1788. The ship has 4,442 square feet of sails.
After watching the crew climb the rigging, or ratlines in mariner speak, they let fall five of the thirteen sails (including top sails and topgallants) for our three-hour tour of Lake Washington. Soon, the sister ship, Hawaiian Chieftain, spreading a glorious pyramid of canvas and cracking on, caught up to us. With guns run out and in close quarters, the pirates on the Hawaiian Chieftain had clapped on all canvas and began attacking us. BOOM! KA-BOOM! We could imagine 12-pound cannon balls ripping through the air and holing our rigging and sails.
After dodging a full broadside assault, Ethan, our gunner,* blazed back, firing both the main gun and a swivel gun mounted aft on the ship. After several close encounters with the Hawaiian Chieftain and many gun volleys, we chased her off and declared ourselves victorious. and sailed back to our dock at Carillon Point. Pirates could never outshoot well-trained Navy gunners like Ethan.
Since the lighters hadn’t stocked our ship with provisions, Mature Friends (to prevent a mutiny) supplied bottled water and light snacks to tide us over till cocktail hour and suppertime. So by around 5:00, we landed back on Carillon Point in Kirkland, safe and sound.
* What did eighteenth-century gunners and crew wear, if anything, during battle to protect their ears? Modern ear protectors had not yet been invented. Well, they used something they had in abundance, and it was very effective. Ever heard of candle wax?
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