April 2011

Another blog. About Portland. And other stuff too.

about | archives | twitter | flickr | potma | iphone snapshots | facebook | yelp
rss feed | youtube | links | the burning log

Questions? Comments? Reservations?

Another Portland Blog

Monday, June 05, 2006


Pirates of the Willamette

The Rose Festival has received a substantial amount of flack over the past few years. Recent fests have lost money and the annual fest is earning a reputation for becoming an archaic holdover from an era where women didn't wear white after Labor Day and beatniks, communists and Dennis the Menace were considered America's gravest threats. But instead of looking for ways of updating the it for the 21st century, maybe they should look backwards- all the way to the days when buccaneers ruled the seas.

This year the organizers somehow coaxed the owners of two "tall ships" to sail down the Willamette and dock on its banks near the Fun Center. I woke up at the crack of noon on Sunday to cruise down there, expecting that rain would keep the crowds away and I could jump on board for a tour without a wait. Instead I found a long line stretching down river past the Hawthorne Bridge. It was hard to tell how the Fun Center was doing, behind its rows of booths and $5 entrance fee, but a crowd had definitely turned out to run around a pair of pirate ships.

One of them, the Lady Washington, was supposedly* used as "The Interceptor," Captain Jack Sparrow's beloved ship in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. After a hour long wait, I found myself standing on the same spot Geoffrey Rush once stood in! W-O-W! *The* Geoffrey Rush. Johnny Depp? Keira Knightley? Legloas? Meh.

The Lady Washington had a crew on deck and, surprisingly, not all of them were local actors. Several were actual sailors that ride the ship up and down the west coast as part of a continued effort to educate school kids on history of merchant trading (but probably not the seedy underbelly as depicted in any given Decembrists' song). A set of stairs in the middle of the ship led to a lower deck filled with cramped bunks and a tiny kitchen where one of them was washing breakfast plates.

While all of the "pirates" were dressed in historic garb, their commitment to the past only stretched as far as clothing. The bunks were filled with modern-day sleeping bags and backpacks. One of them broke out a map of ship and gave me a quick rundown. Another hatch towards the back led to a captain's quarters and an engine room. I don't remember one of those in The Pirates of the Caribbean.

I wonder if the crew actual drops down the sails and lets the wind carry them on any of their voyages or if the masts are just for show. Maybe they fire up the engine and fly up and down the coast like Don Johnson's speedboat in the opening credits of Miami Vice. They also had at least one operable cannon on board. While modern day piracy is probably more along the lines of the machine gun and three-legged dog-wielding buccaneers featured in The Life Aquatic, the Lady Washington had enough firepower and crew members on board to take down at least the Sternwheeler or the Portland Spirit.

The later was parked behind the Lady Washington and if only one of the pirates had been willing to fire a cannonball over the Spirit's decks. Not to do any damage, per say, just to scare the hoity-toity passengers that were about to set sail down the Willamette for what appeared to be a wedding reception. If I ever get married and manage to rent a yacht, I'll stubbornly insist on working a battle at sea into the mix. The Spirit blasted its horn several times before heading down the river, forcing everyone on board the Lady Washington to cover their ears. A smug Spirit crewmember, laughing at all of us, was practically begging for a musket ball up his port bow but the pirates only glared and mumbled amongst themselves.

Before heading out of town, the Lady Washington and the other ship on display set sail on Sunday afternoon for a "battle cruise." If I'd been willing to part with $50 and if it hadn't been sold out, I could have watched the crews of both ships stage a mock cannon fight. I'd be more upset if that $50 would have also bought a shot at the riverside landmark of my choice. Firing a cannon at one of the (still unoccupied) South Waterfront condo towers would have been downright cathartic.

* The Portland Tribune's edition from last Friday claims it played the part of the Black Pearl. Wikipedia and the Lady Washington's website both say it was used as the Interceptor.

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home




  • October 2003
  • November 2003
  • December 2003
  • January 2004
  • February 2004
  • March 2004
  • April 2004
  • May 2004
  • June 2004
  • July 2004
  • August 2004
  • September 2004
  • October 2004
  • November 2004
  • December 2004
  • January 2005
  • February 2005
  • March 2005
  • April 2005
  • May 2005
  • June 2005
  • July 2005
  • August 2005
  • September 2005
  • October 2005
  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011

  • Clicky Web Analytics

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?