Home Activities & Entertainment Sailing Success for Tacoma

Sailing Success for Tacoma

by Norris Comer

Adventuress arriving at Thea Foss Waterway // Photo by Alex Kwanten

Highlights from the 2017 Festival of Sail

The Tacoma Festival of Sail, held June 15 to 18, was a rare opportunity to see many of the great historic tall ships of the West Coast in one place. Some of the iconic ships present were Washington’s official educational tall ship, the Adventuress, the Lady Washington (aka, Pirates of the Caribbean’s Black Pearl), Hawaiian Chieftain of the Gary’s Harbor Historical Seaport, Zodiac, and many more.

We had the privilege of sailing from the Shilshole Bay Marina to the Thea Foss Waterway aboard the Adventuress for delivery, an experience too magical to objectively report. There is an element of intangible wonder that is associated with tall ships, best exemplified when the Adventuress killed the engine after everybody aboard (including press) hoisted the sails.

“It’s a tradition on board to have a moment of silence after we hoist the sails and kill the engine,” says Captain Rachel Slattery as we enjoy the reflective moment on the water.

Festival of Sail 2017

Left: Schooner Zodiac arriving from Bellingham. Center: Dockside with Friday Harbor-based Dirigo II. Right: A small number of vintage power vessels were also on display, like the MV Lotus. (Photos by Alex Kwanten)


At the Festival of Sail itself, educational seminars were loaded with fascinating information while food vendors and live music turned the extraordinary gathering into a true festival. Of course the iconic giant inflatable duck that dwarfed most of the tall ships, was in attendance. Ship tours and day sails gave visitors intimate chances to experience the wood-planked nautical wonders on a personal level. What life changing moments, impossible to quantify, took place? How many revelers, both young and old, fell in love with the sea?

The event took full advantage of Tacoma’s Thea Foss Waterway and the waterfront esplanade. Tall ships were moored to the south near the Museum of Glass all the way north near the Foss Seaport Museum and Rock the Dock Pub & Grill (next to the vendors). Tacoma has certainly emerged as a real boating powerhouse. We look forward to next year’s festival with great excitement. It isn’t every day that so many tall ships gather like this, and it is a pick-me-up guarantee.

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