As Santa Ana winds knocked down trees and power lines Thursday across Southern California, the tall ship Lady Washington only took advantage of historically strong gusts that propelled the ship from Redondo Beach to Long Beach's Rainbow Harbor.
The crew of 13 hoisted the sails on two masts, and the 200-ton wooden ship started to cruise unassisted by a motor at a steady 7 m.p.h.—just as the ship's original counterpart would have in the late 1700s.
Today's replica, built in 1989, is Washington State's official tall ship ambassador. It serves as a living history exhibit while docking in ports up and down the western coast of the United States.
It takes a dedicated crew, many of whom are volunteers, to keep the ship running. As evidence, one only needs to look at the ship’s seemingly endless amount of rope rigging and the wear it causes on crewmembers' hands.
During the voyage, deckhand Seth Little untwisted a line and pointed out dust on the inside of the rope. "That is 22 years’ worth of human skin," he said, adding that each crewmember eventually forms tough calluses on his or her hands.
"We say we make our own gloves," said Little.
As the Lady Washington passed into Long Beach Harbor, it slipped past its modern day equivalents—massive freightliners stacked with containers bound for seaports around the world.
One modern standard shipping container holds nearly twice the cargo that the Lady Washington was ever able to. In Long Beach alone, the stacked cargo containers represent the equivalent of thousands of Lady Washington-sized ships.
"It is definitely interesting seeing the evolution of trade," said Lady Washington captain Jeremiah Gempler, as he piloted his ship into the harbor.
First mate Connie Allen also pointed out that many modern cruise ships have started to use old technology, such as air foils, to help cut down on fuel costs. "There is a return to old technology to use the resources we have more efficiently," she said.
The Lady Washington will be docked in Rainbow Harbor until Dec. 12. It will offer public tours, adventure sails and educational programs for elementary, middle and high-school students.
To buy tickets, see tour times, and learn more about the history of the Lady Washington, visit the ship's website at historicalseaport.org.