Creative photos and essays from the San Juan Islands

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Yesteryear and today

Yesteryear and today Lady Washington 04 27 10 058

The Lady Washington tall ship is in the distance on the left against Shaw Island headed towards a shower with its leading edge a rainbow.

The Lady Washington, 68 feet on deck,300px-Lady_Washington_Commencement_Bay2 is a replica ship built at Gray’s Harbor, WA in 1987 to 1989.

The original Lady Washington, commonly referred to as the “Washington” was named for Martha Washington and was the first American flag vessel to round Cape Horn with Robert Gray as captain. Gray aboard Washington, with expedition leader John Kendrick aboard the Columbia Rediviva (Latin for “revived” after a rebuilding in 1787) left Boston on October 1, 1787 as fur traders bound for the Pacific.

Once in the Pacific Northwest, Kendrick switched vessels with Gray, and Robert Gray later became famous as the discoverer of the great river of the west, naming it after his ship in 1792 beating out the British explorer Geo. Vancouver who had sailed past the mouth of the river without seeing it. This American claim later played a role on who had a right to the area, the Americans or the British.

Gray had been busy with the Columbia, sailing to China with his furs then on around the Cape of Good Hope and home to Boston in 1790, becoming the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe. It was on a second voyage to the Northwest that he discovered the mighty river and Gray’s Harbor. The original Washington was the first American vessel to reach Japan and, after a long career in the Pacific, was wrecked in the Philippines in 1797.

The photo at the right is the Lady Washington leaving Friday Harbor in 2011. Lady Washington 04 27 10 026

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