by Chris Bremer
The two 19th-century ships, Lady Washington and The Hawaiian Chieftain, cast anchor for four days in Humboldt Bay last Friday, opening their doors for locals to explore and adventure.
The tall ships landed in the Eureka docks offering tours, rides, and live battle reenactments. This event is put on through a non-profit organization called Grays Harbor Historical Seaport. This organization is dedicated to providing educational and engaging information on maritime history. The tall ships set sail from British Columbia to San Diego each year, entertaining audiences all along the way.
“The main thing we do here is educational tours,” said James Volmensky, the ships purser and long time crewmember. “Schools charter the ships for the day and we teach the kids how to sail, teach them some history. We have the ships open to the public on the weekends, which pays for most of education programs.”
Allowing the public to tour the vessels is one of the crucial ways which the program receives funding, a mutually beneficial arrangement for Eureka locals. For many, this is much more than another trip to the harbor. This annual event brings with it tradition and family fun, something well known to the Davis’s.
“We’ve lived here for 30 years,” said Kirk Davis, a local and tall ships fan. “Now that our children have grown up, we’ve been thinking of bringing our grandkids.”
Each event offered here provides family oriented fun, allowing children and parents alike to tour the decks, raise the sails, and man the steering wheel.
To join the program, individuals must complete a two-week volunteer course that provides all instruction for sailing the ships. Because the organization is a non-profit, many workers are not paid for their services.
“All the money we get helps pay for our education programs for school kids,” said Volmensky. “That with donations is the only way we can function as a non-profit.”
Tall ships raise their anchors on April 23, heading north for their port in Washington. The family friendly seaside experience can be expected back in Humboldt Bay by this time next year, with some locals determined to return.
“It’s just so fun!” Said Elaine Davis, a local for 30 years. “It’s something I come back for every time.”