Day Trip: Trader ship offers sail-away adventure

November 6, 2009 

OLD SACRAMENTO — Located along the Sacramento River and bustling with activities, the 28-acre Old Sacramento State Historic Park is welcoming a new visitor. Earlier this month, the Hawaiian Chieftain — a replica of a European merchant trader from the turn of the 19th century — sailed in, docked and became a temporary neighbor to the Delta Queen riverboat, which is a permanent fixture dockside.

The hull-shaped topsail ketch, which was built in Hawaii in 1988 and touts a 75-foot mast height, is similar to Spanish explorer ships that were used for expeditions along the Washington, Oregon and California coasts during the late 18th century.

The original ship was designed to be used for cargo trade between the Hawaiian Islands. The replica was purchased in 2004 by the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority and joined the state of Washington's official ship, the Lady Washington, in a mission to educate visitors by providing tours and cruises.

Dockside tours of the visiting sailing ship offer guests a chance to explore the deck and hear tales of what life at sea held for an 18th century sailor. While in Old Sacramento, visitors also may choose to sign up for a three-hour family-oriented Adventure Sail.

This living history experience is complete with an invitation to participate in the operation of the tall ship. Adventure sailors will raise the sails, take the helm, enjoy stories of how ships explored the west coast of North America and if you're lucky hear some good old sea chantey singing.

So, ahoy, matey, for a late fall adventure, you can find me starboard checking the rigging and enjoying the cool breeze.

Bee assistant librarian Karen Aiello can be reached at kaiello@modbee.com or at 578-2392.

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If You Go

  • WHERE: Public boat dock, Old Sacramento
  • WHEN: Through Dec. 13. Public tours are held Tuesdays through Fridays, 4-5 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Adventure sails lasting 3 hours, Saturdays and Sundays, 2 to 5 p.m.
  • COST: A $3 donation is requested for public tours. Adventure sails are $55 adults; $45 seniors, students and active military; $35 children 12 and younger.
  • GETTING THERE: Take Interstate 5 north to downtown Sacramento. Take the J Street exit and follow the signs to Old Sacramento.
  • PARKING: A small number of metered parking spaces are available on the streets of Old Sacramento. However, the spaces are not suitable for guests visiting longer than 90 minutes. All-day parking is available in the large public garage at the I Street entrance to Old Sacramento.
  • DRIVE TIME: 1 hour, 17 minutes (MapQuest)
  • MORE INFO: Old Sacramento, 916-442-7644 or online at www.oldsacramento.com; Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, historicalseaport.org/web/index.html

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