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‘Shifties’ tour East Coast

Johnny Depp has garnered millions of dollars of attention for sailing to “Earth’s end” in the new Pirates of the Carribean film. Whidbey Island has its own set of sailors to travel across the country: The Shifty Sailors, a crew of singers from Whidbey Island.

The group is hoisting the sails for a whirlwind New England Tour on Wednesday, June 27, where “It’s wall to wall singing,” said Vern Olson, director. Don’t worry, though.

You can still see the Shifties, as Olson calls them, one last time before they travel to the other side of the country.

You can see them roaming the streets at WharfFest from 12 to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24, or at the Coupeville Methodist church on Saturday night at 7 p.m.

The tour will push off at a tall ships festival in Newport, R.I., where 30 tall wooden ships have made the voyage from Charleston, S.C., to Norfolk, Va.

The festival is a four day stop to celebrate the tall ships, which are the length of a football field and can tally over 300 for a crew. Mystic Seaport is the next stop, followed by a concert in Norwalk on the Connecticut Pier, and at New Bedford at a whaling museum. Uppity Nantucket will be visited by the Shifty Sailors, followed by a trip to Hyannis, Mass., where former President John F. Kennedy grew up.

The group will also be performing on the Mayflower II in Plymouth, Mass., a replica ship of the original Mayflower.

In Boston, the Shifty Sailors will perform at a pub crawl in historic pubs around the historic city.

Another stop will be Rockfort, which, Olson said, many people have told him reminds them of their Coupeville roots.

Joining the crew of Shifty Sailors will be 10 wives and 16 friends, bringing the head count to 43.

The Shifty Sailors were born when the Island County Museum persuaded a group of relatives of sea captains to write down their tales in a book called “Sails, Steamships, and Sea Captains.”

The museum was having a hard time bringing people in to the readings.

Enter Vern Olson. Olson brought some friends together to sing the songs, and when they were finished, he told the museum, “Well, that’s it,” but the guys he sang with said, “No, this is too much fun!” That was 13 years ago.

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