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Prepare to be boarded: The real-life sailing ships of Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" films

Prepare to be boarded: The real-life sailing ships of Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" films

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Well, if you spent two and a half hours this past weekend in a nearby theater watching Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, perhaps you're somewhat seduced by the siren call of sea. You know… the sights and sounds of adventure from the deck of a tall ship under full sail bound for mysterious waters.

And that would not be an uncommon interest. Once, it was the call of the sea that sent many a young lad off to a life before the mast in search of fame and fortune. Tales of adventure from authors such as Melvile, Kipling, Stevenson, Forrester and O'Brian have been favorites of readers across the generations. And movies featuring similar tales have usually been audience favorites as well.

Perhaps you are so much drawn to this genre that you would like to take this interest to the next level? Loyal readers of this space may recall how several summers ago, I offered a series of tales of how you could enjoy various adventures. Everything from a taste of life on the back of working horse to putting yourself inside a NASCAR race car at speed to steaming a slow but steady cruise aboard a World War II cargo ship. So with that in mind, I decided to check out some of the experiences you can enjoy aboard a fine ship under sail.

Over the years, I have seen various tall ships around the country. I'm sure you have as well. One of the more memorable events was the Operation Sail Tall Ship parade in 1976 for the Bicentennial of our nation. 16 of the then 20 vessels in the world sailed to New York for the event. One of the more awe-inspiring views I recall from the television coverage of that day, to be sure. But why stop there? What if you had the chance to experience this for yourself, first hand?

There are a number of places where you can go aboard a ship and see what it was like. Docked in still waters or landlocked is an easy task, no challenge there. Even Disneyland has such an opportunity as you can go aboard the mighty Columbia and tour below decks.

But it just isn't quite the same as seeing something in action, doing what it was designed and built to do. That's the kind of feeling I get after visiting museums such as the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum on the Capitol Mall in Washington, D.C. Sure, it's great to see these machines (such as the Wright Flyer) preserved to be seen by future generations. But seeing a P-51 Mustang in flight at 400 miles per hour plus flying through the skies with its Rolls Royce Merlin engine making that unmistakable sound or watching the Union Pacific's Challenger steam locomotive roll by at speed with the matching passenger train in gleaming armour yellow and whistling off into the distance is an experience that you don't soon forget.

So, perhaps that is why the thought of taking a cruise under sail has the same appeal. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities available – around the country and around the globe. A quick Internet search provides plenty of links worth exploring. But for today, I wanted to share tales of two such ships had roles in both of the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

Starting our voyage, we need look no further than the Lady Washington, home ported in Grays Harbor, Washington. She is a recreation of the original merchant brig; believed to have been built in the Boston area in 1750. The most notable voyage of her career was in 1787 when she sailed along with the Columbia Rediviva on a trading voyage from Boston. In 1788, she became the first American vessel to visit the West Coast of North America, Honolulu, Hong Kong, and Japan, pioneering the trade between the United States of America and the Orient.

Today's Lady Washington was built in Aberdeen, Washington for the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority and was launched on March 7, 1989. Since that time she has sailed honorably visiting ports up and down the West Coast. But you may have seen her on screen in her movie roles. In 1994's "Star Trek Generations" she appeared as the holodeck version of the H.M.S. Enterprise. Later, she was sketched by Disney artists for reference material for the 2002 animated film "Treasure Planet".

But you might remember her best from her more involved role as the H.M.S. Interceptor in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. One of the features on the DVD was a diary of her movie role. But just in case you might have forgotten, this was the ship that Captain Jack Sparrow and Will Turner stole from Port Royal and sailed to Tortuga in search of a crew.

Today, the Lady Washington offers a variety of sailing opportunities from her home port in Grays Harbor. From a three-hour Adventure Sail to voyages as long as three weeks, they offer something for sailors of all ages. Check the links on their web site for more information.

Now the other ship of note today is the Continental Sloop Providence, based on the East Coast, in Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay. This 110 foot sloop is a recreation of a very historic Revolutionary War naval vessel. Originally known as the Katy and launched in the 1760's, she sailed the Eastern seaboard and the Caribbean as an armed merchant ship. It is believed that she may even have had experience as a whaler and perhaps even a privateer before the war began.

In June of 1775, she became the flagship of the navy of Rhode Island. When she became a part of the American Navy later that year, she was renamed the Providence and became the first command of John Paul Jones. In her career, she won over 40 naval battles – the most successful of all American ships in the war. Yet she met her end in 1779 when she was scuttled and burned by her crew to avoid capture by the British in the Penobscot River near Bucksport, Maine.

The Providence was one of several ships that sailed to the Caribbean for appearances in Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man's Chest. One of her crew, Richard "Rusty" Rice has a great diary online offering some views of her during the filming as well as a log her voyage there and back. From the ships web pages:

"The Providence appears in a number of scenes in "Dead Man's Chest". She is in the background as a British vessel in the harbor of Port Royal and as a pirate ship at the dock in Tortuga. Her best scene is as a merchant vessel from which Captain Jack Sparrow's hat is retrieved. The merchant ship then suffers the fate of being destroyed by a sea monster, the Kraken!"

The Providence as well is safe and sound, back at her homeport after her adventures on the silver screen. She too offers a variety of sailing opportunities during the year.

Both ships and their crews have an ongoing commitment to education. Students are welcomed to experience life at sea first hand. I can think of no finer way to learn than to see for one's self what life was like for the men and women who found the calling of the sea as their careers. Here's hoping that you can enjoy a visit to the Lady Washington or the Providence for your own sailing adventure!

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  • Yeah After seeing Pirates twice, (and tonight will be my 3rd time seeing it) I really want to be a pirate.

    Thanks for the great article Roger. Although Im not to close to any of those ships. Thank goodness we have the HMS Bounty here in St. Petersburg. Not to mention Gasparilla Festival in Tampa. Im so glad there were pirates where I live. :)

    And.... like a kid who finds out theres no Santa and i'm so dissapointed with Jim. Its THURSDAY. Where's the article? He was out an about with Cars monday morning. So lame.
  • Hey, give Jim a break, okay. He'll have his say when he's ready.

    There is more to life than this web site and sometimes, other things do have priority.
  • Let's make this a rant on Jim... why should we give him a break when he did say that the winner would be announced as soon as the final numbers are in.  Also, what is the deal with the audio CD for his Disneyland tour that he promised, and changed, and promised, and changed.  He promised that it would be out around now.  WHERE IS IT?
  • Ok, their gonna be pissed. But I recommend, Laughingplace.com, thedisneyblog.com, or go to another site they seem to having great articles about pirates 2! As for Jim, who cares anymore, he let me down big time, wuts his prob, the final numbers were announced monday morning jim, where are ya!
  • The reason the pirates article isn't up isn't because Jim has something against Disney. He has nothing against Pirates and does not want it to fail.

    The article isn't up simply because, he is Jim Hill. Since when has he ever made deadlines? If he posted all the articles he said he would, we wouldn't have all these unfinished series, the DL CDs would be out & the Pirates article would have been up 12am on Tuesday morning. But that isn't the real world. There *are* things in life more important than writing a website article. For all we know, Jim could simply be being Jim or something else might have come up (like maybe he had the chance to be with his daughter instead this week).

    Either way, it will be posted when he posts it. As Roger said in the forum, "All will be revealed soon." And like I said, if you don't like reading articles on this site, get the heck out. Believe me, I won't miss you that much.
  • Actually, it's my fault.  Kind of.

    Jim had to come out here to get Alice because we don't think she should fly anywhere alone at her age.  He's in New Hampshire, Alice and I are in Hawaii.

    Right now, they're stuck in Chicago because something went wrong with their plane and they have to wait for a while.

    Some things are more important than Internet fan sites.  I'm really glad Jim *always* has his priorities right when it comes to his kid.   Coming from the Evil Ex-Wife, that's gotta be worth something.
  • Oh, and Roger, great article.  A couple Fabbers went on the Lady Washington and did story and pics on the old FabsBoards.com about two years ago, but it was lost in the Great Server Debacle of ought-five.  (Never, never trust skyfire hosting -they DO NOT do backups, even though they say they do!)
  • All good things come to those that wait. I figured there was a good reason Jim didn't put up an article. He's got a great site here, the first one I go to each day.
    I don't think for one moment that he is anti-Disney. That's just ridiculous. Sometimes, though, I do suspect that Jim & Al Lutz pulled a Freaky Friday.
  • While I don't think Jim is necessarily anti-Disney, I'm gonna say this:

    You can be sure that had Pirates flopped over the weekend, an article would have gone up immedieately.
  • I really don't think you can be sure of that. In fact, I've gotta say, I'm all for giving a little healthy criticism here and again, but this site has gotten ugly lately with all the jabs and attacks and fury and venom. There is a point at which you just have to say go get your own website, and the participants in the postings have long since crossed it. If you haven't noticed, this is easily the best site on the internet for Disney insider news, and you can't get enough of it or you wouldn't be here.
  • I think there is a problem in the Disney fan community.  We have lost our villian.  When Michael Eisner was there, we placed all the blame of the company on that one guy.  Some deserving and some not so deserving.  With Iger mending a whole lot of fences, it's hard to place the blame on someone.  I just think that some of us are still looking for that villian we can root against and say "That's who is ruining Disney."

    While I think Jim is resenting the Pixar purchase, I don't believe he is anti-Disney.  Why hasn't Jim commented on the number of recent injuries at Mission: Space if he was anti-Disney?  Speaking of which, I feel that ride is headed for a major redo soon.
  • Kungaloosh1937 said:
    While I don't think Jim is necessarily anti-Disney, I'm gonna say this:

    You can be sure that had Pirates flopped over the weekend, an article would have gone up immedieately.
    July 14, 2006 2:43 AM

    I dont think so.

    I happen to know Jim and his Ex Fabshelly very well. Jim would drop everything in a heartbeat to spend time with his daughter Alice. I also wouldent expect a full blown article from him until Alice goes back to Hawaii. We may see a quick note or two.

    So let him spend some time with his daughter and cut him some slack in this case. As for all the unfinished articles and the CD. You have every right in the world to keep badgering him about those.

    But for the next week or two let him be one with his little girl whose growing up so fast half a world away.
  • "You can be sure that had Pirates flopped over the weekend, an article would have gone up immedieately."
    Look, the earliest an article would have been up was Tuesday morning because that is what he said (and if you think he'd put an article up earlier, you obviously don't know Jim too well :)). But obviously other things came up. And if you thing spending time with your daughter is less important than writing some article (who's information can easily be found elsewhere), then just get the heck out.

    "Why hasn't Jim commented on the number of recent injuries at Mission: Space if he was anti-Disney?  Speaking of which, I feel that ride is headed for a major redo soon."
    Off-topic, but I must comment (as if everything posted here wasn't off-topic). The recent injury happened because someone fell long after getting off the ride. In all likelyhood, it was due to dehydration. I can almost guarantee the ride had 0-impact on it. And rumors are around on other sites that she was infact a CM on her day off & had a bit too much to drink. But if you think MS's popularity has been effected at all by any of its injuries/deaths you are wrong. MS is more popular than ever now. While it used to average 10-20 minute lines, it now averages 40 minute lines on the Orange (more intense) side and 10-20 on Green (less intense) side. On the 4th of July, the posted wait time was 140 minutes (it ended up being a bit over an hour when I rode it). I can almost guarantee that this ride isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
  • Off-topic spoiler alert!

    2 almost guarantees + 0 impact + 140 minute wait time = over 200 million dollars for Cars going into the weekend

    just look what you started Roger - I hold you responsible   ;)
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