Tall ships finally arrive at Deception Pass, Coupeville

As promised, a fleet of magnificent tall ships passed under Deception Pass Bridge heading southward at about 2:30 Wednesday afternoon, as hundreds of people on the beach and the overpass above snapped photos and waved to the crews.

Upwards of a dozen of the vessels, most under full sail, navigated the passage on their way first to Coupeville, then Everett and points south. Some of the ships carried paying passengers on a ride from Anacortes to Coupeville, where the ships arrived around 6 p.m.

Many, such as the Lady Washington, saluted the crowds at Deception Pass with an echoing volley of cannon shots (blanks, of course).

The fleet definitely had an international appeal, including tall ships from New Zealand (schooner R. Tucker Thompson), Canada (the Northstar of Herschel Island), Ukraine (the Bat’Kivshchyan) along with a number from the United States such as Rejoice, Sophia Christina, Yankee Clipper and Hawaiian Chieftain.

The arrival of the boats in Coupeville around 6 p.m. was something of a redemption for that other, notorious tall ship event that didn’t quite come off as touted in Coupeville on Thursday, Aug. 1, when only a handful of vessels sailed into Penn Cove. Event organizers had planned two days of festivities, hoping that the town would be graced by between 6 and 12 of the ships. The party went on as scheduled, yet only the crew of the Lady Washington and a few smaller vessels were in attendance.

This time around, though, everything was tip-top. So many people attended the passage at Deception Point, in fact, that vehicles were parked a half-mile from the bridge along the side of the road. The crowd on the Coupeville Wharf wasn’t bad either. Folks were treated to more cannons going off, and a sea shanty by the Shifty Sailors, who rode the Hawaiian Chieftain from Anacortes into town. They broke into song just as the ship pulled up to the dock.

One side effect of the spectacle was a post-event traffic jam that stretched south on Highway 20 all the way to Dugualla Bay, with cars still bumper-to-bumper at Monkey Hill Road an hour after the ships passed the bridge.

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