By Bill Schlichting
Pilot Staff Writer
One day last year I felt as though I needed to get out of town, so I headed to Coos Bay.
As I was just south of downtown North Bend, I looked out onto the bay and saw a familiar tall ship.It was the Hawaiian Chieftain, one of two ships owned by the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority in Aberdeen, Wash. The other ship, the Lady Washington, was elsewhere during my Coos Bay visit.
After a quick visit to Pony Village Mall, I headed back to downtown Coos Bay to locate where the ship would dock.
When I arrived at the dock, people were disembarking. I recognized one person, Mureen Walker, a photographer from Pistol River. She had taken a cruise around the bay.
Last year, the Hawaiian Chieftain made an extended stay in Coos Bay. She was originally scheduled to moor in Crescent City, but because of the March 11, 2011, tsunami, there was no place for the ship to dock.
Fast forward to this past weekend. Sunday I went to Crescent City to pay a visit to the Hawaiian Chieftain, which was there with her sister ship, Lady Washington.
When I arrived at the Crescent City Harbor, I found no ships. Knowing that they hadn’t left town, I assumed that the they were out to sea. What I didn’t know was where.
I headed up Anchor Way toward Whaler Island and, in the distance, I saw one of the ships. I parked, got out my camera and headed up the rock. Half way up I found a vantage point where, even though a 300mm lens, the ships were still small in the frame.
I decided to climb higher up the rock where I took a few more unsatisfactory pictures of the distant ships.
Then I followed a brushy trail – which cut through poison oak, nettles and blackberries, and came close to a sheer dropoff – to the other side of the island where there is a beautiful meadow providing more photo opportunities.
After taking pictures of the Battery Point Lighthouse and other interesting sites, I turned around and headed back to my second vantage point. There I noticed the ships heading back into port. So I made myself comfortable and waited.
I took several photos of the Hawaiian Chieftain as she motored close by. The ship briefly disappeared behind the summit of the island. When she reappeared, I took more pictures. That’s when it hit me, “a nice photo would be of the ship with the lighthouse in the background.”
I hiked the trail again to the other side where I waited to get the Lady Washington passing nearby with the lighthouse behind it.
From there I hiked back to the parking lot and drove to the boat basin to greet the ships.
As the passengers were disembarking, I recognized one person: Mureen Walker. This time she sailed on the Lady Washington.
Am I envious of her? Of course. I’ve photographed both ships in Coos Bay, Crescent City and Brookings, but I have yet to go on board even for a free dockside tour.
Someday I will.