Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tall Ships Visit Eureka California


Built in the British Colony of Massachusetts in the 1750s, the original vessel carried freight between colonial ports until the American Revolutionary War, when she became an American privateer. In 1787, after the war, she was given a major refit to prepare her for a unprecedented trading voyage around Cape Horn. In 1788, she became the first American vessel to make landfall on the west coast of North America.A pioneer in Pan-Pacific trade, she was the first American ship to visit Honolulu, Hong Kong and Japan. Lady Washington opened the black pearl and sandalwood trade between Hawaii and the Orient when King Kamehameha became a partner in the ship.The modern Lady Washington was thoroughly researched by historians and constructed by skilled shipwrights. She was launched as part of the 1989 Washington State Centennial celebration. The new Lady Washington meets all of the U.S. Coast Guard safety requirements for a 21st-century ship.Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain are scheduled to arrive in Eureka on April 12 for six days of walk-on tours, educational programs for K-12 students, and public sailing excursions from the Adorni Center, 1011 Waterfront Drive, Eureka. The ships are nearing the end of their 2011-2012 California sailing season, and this stop will be one of only two North Coast visits this year. (The other will be Crescent City.)

The world of make-believe pirates gets a boost this month when Walt Disney Pictures releases the fourth installment in the POTC series, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The movie premieres on Saturday May 7 in Hollywood; the general release is scheduled for May 20 across the country. The story reportedly pits Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and compatriot Barbarossa (Geoffrey Rush) againstBlackbeard (Ian McShane) on a quest for the Fountain of Youth. History purists tend to turn up their nose at the Disney-fied cutthroats of history, even suggesting that the theme-park-ification of thievery and murder desensitizes the public to the truly horrific acts of modern pirates in the Gulf of Aden and the Straits of Malacca.
Capt. John Aydelotte as Blackbeard the Pirate
Capt. John Aydelotte of Port Townsend, Wash., plays Blackbeard the Pirate in a documentary airing this month.
Even so, institutions with missions to preserve history and educate the public about the past know an opportunity when they see one. On the day of POTC 4's general release, the Museum of London Docklands will open an exhibit on Capt. William Kydd, one of the archetypal New World pirates who terrified ships' masters in the late 17th century. His true story is at least as good as the fictional Jack Sparrow's; the exhibit will feature some of Kydd's actual letters.
On the small screen, look for all kinds of video material related to pirates this month, and one program has a bit of hidden movie trivia. On May 15 and 16, the Smithsonian Channel on satellite and cable networks will broadcast "The Real Story: Pirates of the Caribbean," an episode in the channel's "Real Story" series. The hour-long program looks behind the story of POTC to get at the "truth" about pirates. I have a small, but direct connection to the show: It was filmed aboard the tall ship Lady Washington, which is based in Aberdeen, Wash. Some of the actors are crew, friends and supporters of Lady Washington, including Capt. John Aydelotte of Port Townsend, who appears as Blackbeard. (Watch for the tall shipHawaiian Chieftain, which sails with Lady Washington. Hawaiian Chieftain is attacked by Lady Washington in "The Real Story.")
Here's the cocktail trivia: Lady Washington appeared in the first POTC film, "The Curse of the Black Pearl." Lady Washington played HMS Interceptor, a British warship captured by Jack Sparrow. So Lady Washington has appeared in two pirate flicks, one as a fictional character, and one as a stand-in for a "real" pirate ship in a show meant at explaining the rise and fall of the piracy that inspires today's make-believe pirates. If your cutlass can cut through that Gordian knot, let me know.

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