Real nice coils on a magic ship

Published on Thu, Aug 15, 2002 by Mikael Kenoyer

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Real nice coils on a magic ship

By Mikael Kenoyer

“The Lady is a magic ship,” said Michael Kellick, steward and communications officer of the Lady Washington, one of three tall ships tied up in Blaine’s marina last week. Magic in the sense of educating and delighting thousands each year, from north of the border to San Diego. Magic in that it opens the door to another world, a living, breathing late 18th century. Magic in the thriving community of crew that love her.

Those lucky enough to secure passage on the Lady saw firsthand how her crew stroked and petted her, set her sails with grace and tied her lines with care. They saw pride settle in Kellick’s grin when he led the crew in a round of “We are bound for South Australia” and announced, as the first Semiahmoo breeze caught in the Lady’s billows, “were a sailboat now!”

The rest of the crew share Kellick’s enthusiasm for the ship alumni crew call Lady Love. Jesse Loge, native of Bellingham, was back on the lady after a long month and a half off. “This is the place that feels like home to me,” he said. He admitted that hours are long and work is hard, but “we get to do something pretty much no one else gets to do,” he said.

Ann Kirsh, a creative writing major at Western when she's not sailing the high seas, has been working on the Lady on and off for two years, and, she said, “I’ll probably do it the rest of my life.” When she came aboard, “I knew pretty much zilch,” she said. She’d been out on friends’ sailboats before, but never anything like the Lady. “I saw the boat and said I’ve got to do this,” she said, so the crew taught her the ropes – all 164 of them.
While Kirsh’s devotion to the Lady is genuine, her place on the vessel of “living history” is not. In the 1700s, she would have had to dress like a boy to go to sea, as women were considered bad luck. Despite her ability to haul her own weight on the fully liberated 21st century ship, she said when the Lady performs historical reenactments for things like the History Channel, they go back to no girls allowed, at least in camera shots.

The Lady Washington was on hand to greet the Nina as she sailed into town. She said hello tall ship style, with a cannon salute. “When they get in range,” Kellick announced to passengers, “we’re going to give them what for.” The Lady's three-inch cannons were packed with gunpowder and brown flour, and with a cry of “fire in the hole,” the shots were away. While the original Lady’s cannons would have been closer to six-inchers, crew member Ryan Faulkner said his ship needed no more. “For what we do, it’s more than enough,” he said. The Lady can still shoot a pool ball up to two miles.

When it came time to motor back into harbor, the crew elected to make nice with the Nina. “The Nina’s in town, she hasn’t met us yet, so lets get those coils real nice,” the order went out. “Real nice coils, aye,” the crew sprang into action.

The Lady has moved south, now, and will continue to her home port in Aberdeen before snowbirding in California. Those who missed her should not despair; the Lady will likely return next summer.


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