Monday, December 23, 2013

Lady Washington, a four-part series by Melanie Sherman

The tall ship, Lady Washington, under sail in Commencement Bay near Tacoma, Washington. Photo: Miso Beno.
Lady Washington Part 1 A Brief Introduction
The original Lady Washington was built in Massachusetts while Massachusetts was still a British colony. The pretty little brig hauled freight up and down the colonial ports from the year 1750 until the American Revolutionary War, at which time she became an American privateer.

I can just imagine the nimble little brig clawing her way in and out of ports, delivering cargo in defiance of the British blockade, putting herself in constant danger. But she eluded British capture and in 1787, after the war, she won favor by an unprecedented trading voyage around Cape Horn… by Read more »

Lady Washington Part 2 Story Begins
“Permission to board?” I called.

No answer.

I tottered up the gangplank dragging my duffel and peeked over the cap rail. He had been there a moment ago when travel mates Bruce and Ryan climbed aboard. I shrugged, happy to be able to clamber onto the deck without an audience, just in case I tripped over the rail and landed with a splat. It takes a while to gain my sea legs, like maybe a week, or a month. I picked my way across the rain soaked deck and peered down the gangway. A tall, thin man with graying whiskers stuck his head through the opening. He smiled… Read more »

Lady Washington Part 3 Bringing Everyone Abroad
The engine rumbled and diesel fumes fouled the air. What happened to the briny scent of the sea and the whisper of wind in the rigging? (Okay, I knew we were on the Columbia River, but I still expected some salt air.) Where were the gruff commands to hoist the mains’, holystone the deck, loose the cannons? After forty-five minutes of rain, hail, rain, I'd had enough experience with the grim reality of bad weather. I scowled. The crew pattered about their tasks without regard to conditions. Shipboard life went on regardless of daylight, darkness, sun or rain. The five other passengers managed to amble topside with steaming cups of hot... Read more »

Lady Washington Part 4 End of the Journey
While we waited for Dash to begin the training, Beth showed me the courses, the clew lines, the bunting lines and the sheets for the mainmast. Forward, the same lines hung from the belaying pins for the foremast.

“Now, if I have it correctly,” she said, “the sheets haul the sails back to cup the wind and the braces angle the yard to fill the sail in the best possible position.”

“What is that out there, is that the chains?”


“Okay,” I said, “What is this flat piece of wood called on top of the railing?”

“That is the cap rail.”

“So what is the gunwale?” I asked.

She stared at me ... Read more »

Melanie Sherman is a writer living in Washington State, who says, "The trouble with writing historical fiction is that I begin to want servants, when, in actuality, I probably would have been one."