Sail away with Momma Duck

By Winter Dorval - Staff Reporter

Join Momma Duck and her line of tall ships for a day of  fun on Tacoma's Thea Foss Waterway.

The Festival of Sail will feature 22 tall ships, tailed by an inflatable duck made of the same material as bouncy houses.

The Festival of Sail is from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 15 and  9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 16 and 18.

All attending ships have at least three sails, some sport up to five.

One of the attending ships, The Thane, was the first ship to travel around the world with a one-man crew, from 1895 to 1898.

Another is the Adventuress. She sailed the West Coast for the Coast Guard in 1913. Today the ship is operated out of Port Townsend by a non-profit organization called Sound Experience that emphasizes environmental education on Puget Sound. 

Schooner Freda B was built and launched in 1991. She was intended to transport between New England and Key West. People can enjoy the sights on this ship, or help the crew sail.

The Hawaiian Chieftain was built in Maui in 1988. She hosts cruises with Lady Washington, and is an educational sailboat for new sailors.

Lady Washington was launched in 1989, in the Washington State Centennial Celebration. She is a full-scale replica of the original Lady Washington, which was built in the 1750s. She was the first ship to visit Honolulu, Japan and Hong Kong while flying an American flag.

With a height of six stories, Momma Duck is hard to miss.

"She is on a pontoon of seven joined pieces, so that she can travel by land or water. It takes six dock workers to inflate her," said Madeline Wold, the director of Draw Events, which is managing the festival.

"It can take up to six hours to inflate her, and she is accompanied by continuous air pumps throughout the day. Between events, she travels in an 18-wheeler truck," Wold said.

Since her integration into the group "she has been a great draw for families, and provides a lot of joy and fond memories to all who see her," Wold said.

The ships will sail into the Foss Waterway from the direction of Vashon Island, and will later visit Victoria and Richmond, B.C. before going to San Francisco and eventually Southern California.

There will be balloon artists, magicians, pirate entertainers and local bands during the festival too.

"Food trucks and local vendors will be providing food," Wold said.

The Tacoma Symphony will perform in conjunction with the festival on Saturday, June 17.

The proceeds fund the festival, the ships, the entertainers, and future events.

Tacoma Symphony will perform from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

The orchestra is about 70 people and is holding a free concert at the Thea Foss Waterway.

"We like to make the symphony available to the community for free concerts whenever possible," said Andy Beulow, assistant director.

"It's a good opportunity to give back to the community, and to play outdoors. We can have a themed program that includes nautical music."

The concert is 2 to 3:30 p.m.          

The program will include Russian Sailors Dance by Gliere, Victory at Sea by Rodgers & Bennett, music from the film Titanic, and more.

Parking is available in the city, but a shuttle will be dropping people off at stops in the city too.

A one-day pass is $9, a one-day tour pass is $12, a multi-day pass is $20, a day sail pass is $95, a fastpass is $59, and a Parade of Sail day pass is $150. For more information on tickets and the other 17 ships, visit

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