I remember the time I saw the LADY WASHINGTON coming out of the fog firing her 5 ponders at the LYNX in Port Townsend Bay on Puget Sound back in the fall of ‘05.  What a sight.  What a trip back in time.  I had sailed from Port Angeles (PA) with my friends and shipmates Seth and Frank to attend the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival.  We had sailed my ketch AVANTI in the fog all the way from PA not seeing a thing but the water around the boat.  That made for a lone 36 miles, I tell ya.  When we rounded Point Wilson from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the fog started to break apart just enough to discern where we were, and then canon fire! Canon fire unmistakable! Right there in the fog! Then we could see the flashs in the fog, then the two ships side by side full sail and firing away coming out of the mist as they raced for Port Townsend.  My fate was sealed.  I knew  right then that someday I’d sail as crew on that magnificent brig.

It wasn’t until later that year that I ran in to Captain Bill Larson at the YMCA in PA that I started to get the encouragement I needed to get moving toward making it happen.  Capt. Bill had been master of the LADY WASHINGTON for years in her early days of sailing out of Gray’s Harbor Historical Seaport, Aberdeen Washington.  I seems like every time we talked he’d ask, “when are you going to sail on the Lady” so I started to get cracking and sent in my resume’.  Something about it they liked because I got a call from the Operations Manager offering me a position as mate aboard. I’d sailed every ocean of the world but never had I sailed on a Square Rigger!  Oh the things our egos get us into.  I was just going to go for a two week training cruise but … “Me? Mate on the LADY?  Four months?”   

Being a cautious sort though, I did have to check them out before making that sort of commitment.  I went on a Battle Sail as a paying passenger, which was hard for a master mariner like me because as old Ishmael of Moby Dick said about paying as a passenger and being paid as a crew, “there is a difference between paying and being paid, and it is all the difference in the world”.   But what I saw as a passenger was that the crew was having so much fun!  They ran up the ratlines, they screamed back the orders, they hung from the rigging, they sang sea shanties.  They hooked me like a fish!

Sailing south aboard THE BRIG LADY WASHINGTON fall of '06

Sailing south aboard THE BRIG LADY WASHINGTON fall of '06


3 Responses to “My LADY LOVE”

  1. Chad Evans says:

    Hey Captn.

    Where’s your cutlass (:> ?

    Fair winds and full sails,


  2. tommy says:

    No cutlass, but when I sailed on LADY WASHINGTON, I did get to ware funny clothes, a puffy shirt and a ribbon in my hair.,,pretty cool for an ol’ guy in his sixties! T.

  3. Sheri Petersen says:

    Captain Tommy, You knock me out! You are an inspiration! I heard of your journey through my sister who is a friend of Nancy Gurney and I just had to let you know what a joy your courage and commitment are to me. As a 61 year old woman who refuses to be an old lady, I applaud you.