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Return of a beautiful Lady

The Lady Washington will make two visits to Tacoma this summer. Photo credit:

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Born in Aberdeen, Washington, she celebrated her 30th birthday March 7. She stands tall at 89 feet and weighs 99 tons, and boy, is she ever a world-class beauty. Maybe that explains her rapid success in the movie business, starting with her key role in Star Trek: Generations in 1993. A decade later, she joined the epic cannon battles in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. People say she's a dead ringer for her namesake ancestor, a warrior in the American Revolution, so aside from her beauty she's armed and dangerous. Her name is Lady Washington, and she'll sail into Tacoma's Foss Waterway Seaport this June. Visitors can board while she's docked there, even sail away with her on weekend adventure tours. A lucky few will join her crew on a 56-hour sail to her next destination, Westport.

Each version of Lady Washington, both the 18th-century original and her modern replica, can be classified as a brig; that's a sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. An additional sail called a spanker is rigged to the bowsprit, the spar that projects from the front of the vessel. The original, named for presidential spouse Martha Washington, was the first vessel with an American flag to round Cape Horn. She traveled from Boston to the Pacific Northwest to trade with indigenous tribes, then visited China. She was the first American trading ship to sail to Japan, meeting her end in the Philippines in 1797.

Full-scale replica Lady Washington, which operates under the aegis of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, was constructed in honor of Washington state's 1989 centennial. In addition to her roles as the holodeck Enterprise and Pirates' HMS Interceptor, she also played Captain Hook's ship, the Jolly Roger, on the ABC series Once Upon a Time. After she sails into Tacoma on Thursday, June 13, visitors will be offered three distinct types of touring experiences. For a mere $5 donation, visitors can board the docked brig, enter open compartments and meet the regular crew of 12. For $49 to $55, guests can take a two- to three-hour "Adventure Sail" around the harbor. As Lady Washington leaves port Tuesday, June 25, she'll carry tourists who've paid $377 for a one-way "Passage" excursion to Westport. Those amateur sailors may be assigned a watch, drafted into ship operations, perhaps even allowed to drive the boat. Here's hoping they've learned their halyards from their headsails by then.

After she sails north as far as Richmond, British Columbia, Lady Washington will return to Tacoma Aug. 22. A few days later, she'll sail to Olympia in time for that city's Harbor Days festival the last week of August. While she's docked at Olympia's Port Plaza, she'll form the fitting and picturesque backdrop to a free, outdoor production of William Shakespeare's The Tempest.

"The tall ships are a rare opportunity for people to make physical connections with our seafaring past," says Zachary Stocks, the program development officer for Grays Harbor Historical Seaport. "The history of this region's communities has largely been shaped by the sailors who navigated these waters hundreds of years earlier, and the indigenous peoples whose knowledge of these waterways goes back millennia. Maritime is a part of the identity of this place, and we are proud to share a small glimpse at this tremendous heritage with the public."

LADY WASHINGTON TOURS, 2-6 p.m., Friday, June 14 and 21; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, June 15, 16 and 22, 23, Foss Waterway Seaport Museum, 705 Dock St., Tacoma, $5, 800.200.5239,

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