Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lady Washington memorabilia presented to Princess Taiping crew

Jim Mockford, a dear friend of Lady Washington and a member of the Historical Seaport’s Advisory Council, sent along these photos and a story about a presentation to representatives of the Princess Taiping replica. The ship visited the west coast in October of 2008.

On Sunday afternoon, December 6, 2009, some gifts from the brig Lady Washington were presented to two intrepid sailing-junk sailors at the Evergreen Maritime Museum in Taipei, Taiwan. Captain Nelson Liu (Liu Ning-sheng) and Angela Chao were presented a set of gold coins marking the 20th Anniversary of Grays Harbor Historical Seaport and brig Lady Washington, as well as a Washington State flag, and coins for eleven members of the Princess Taiping replica war junk. The presentation was made by Jim Mockford, a member of the Historical Seaport's advisory council, who was traveling on business in Taiwan.

It was not the first time that Nelson and Angela had received gifts as part of an international friendship exchange between the two historical ships. In 2008, the Lady Washington and Princess Taiping sailed together in San Francisco Bay and the crews held exchanges aboard their respective vessels. But on April 26, 2009, Liu and his ten member crew were sailing 20 miles off the coast of Taiwan when their 54-foot Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) replica was overrun at 2:30 a.m. by a freighter. Three hours later, Nelson, Chao and the crew were rescued at sea by the Taiwanese Coast Guard as their beautiful ship sank to the bottom of the sea. It had successfully made a 14,000 mile voyage across the Pacific to the United States the previous year and back to Chinese waters just as they were about to reach their home port. The mementos of their trip, including gifts from Lady Washington, sank with the ship. Fortunately, all hands were saved from a final fate.

When Captain Les Bolton, the executive director of GHHSA, heard of Mockford's business trip to Taiwan, they discussed "regifting" another set of Lady Washington memorabilia to Nelson and the Princess Taiping crew. After all, the Princess Taiping was also a connection to the Aberdeen Boat Club of Hong Kong, Princess Taiping’s home port and namesake of Lady Washington's home port of Aberdeen, Wash. Also, Captain John Kendrick had sailed the original Lady Washington to Aberdeen, Hong Kong in 1793 becoming the first American ship to anchor at Hong Kong.

The original Lady Washington sailed from the Pacific Northwest to China to trade furs for tea in the 1790s and on one occasion Kendrick rescued thirty Chinese sailors whose junks had been lost during a typhoon. Unlike Kendrick and Lady Washington, the freighter captain who ran over Princess Taiping did not stop to render assistance and an investigation followed outrage over the incident reported in Chinese newspapers.

In response to the renewal of friendship between Princess Taiping and Lady Washington, Nelson Liu presented Mockford with a pennant from Princess Taiping and other gifts that will be brought back to Grays Harbor Historical Seaport and the promise that Nelson and Angela will return to the USA again soon to see Lady Washington and express their appreciation on behalf of the crew of Princess Taiping.

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