Tall Tales, Tall Ship - Atlas Obscura

Kirkland, Washington

Tall Tales, Tall Ship

Get out on the water in a night of sailing, song, and sea creatures aboard the Hawaiian Chieftain.

Spend an evening aboard the Hawaiian Chieftain with Atlas Obscura Society Seattle! Guests will spend two hours on Lake Washington with lively entertainment provided by sea-creature themed band The Mermen and Sierra Nelson—President of the Cephalopod Appreciation Society.

Passengers will board the Hawaiian Chieftain from Carillon Point Marina and be given a brief safety orientation before leaving the dock. Afterwards, guests will be able to assist Hawaiian Chieftain crew in setting the sails as the boat sets out underway. The Mermen provide upbeat tunes to an ocean-minded crowd. Sierra Nelson will give a talk on the fabled Kraken.

This program is presented in collaboration with Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, which is managing ticket sales for this event.


Built of steel in Hawaii in 1988 and originally designed for cargo trade among the Hawaiian Islands, naval architect Raymond H. Richards’ design for Hawaiian Chieftain was influenced by the early colonial passenger and coastal packets that traded among Atlantic coastal cities and towns. The coastal packet service was part of the coasting trade based on mercantile activity of the developing seaboard towns. The early packet ships were regular traders and were selected because they sailed remarkably well and could enter small ports with their shallow draft. Out of the gradual development of the Atlantic packet ship hull form came the ship design practices that helped produce some of the best of the clipper ships of the later 1850s.It is a vessel of the educational non-profit Grays Harbor Historical Seaport, which leads maritime field trips and programs at sea in over 40 West Coast ports.


The Mermen are a singing, dancing, all sea creature-themed, Old-time music spectacular. Songs include ancient sea shanties, nautical instrumentals, and new time favorites. The characters include an angler fish, a squid, and a dancing starfish.


Sierra Nelson is a Seattle-based poet, performer, installation artist, and teacher. She is author of the award-winning I Take Back the Sponge Cake: A Lyrical Choose-Your-Own-Adventure made with visual artist Loren Erdrich (Rose Metal Press), and the chapbook “In Case of Loss” (Embark, Toadlily Press). She teaches creative writing at the Richard Hugo House, Centrum, and Seattle Children's Hospital through Writers in the Schools, and through University of Washington's Friday Harbor Marine Labs and Summer Creative Writing in Rome programs.


  • Guests should arrive at least 15 minutes early. We will depart promptly at 6 p.m.
  • Please be prepared for foul weather.
  • Hawaiian Chieftain is NOT wheelchair accessible.
  • A ticket is required for all passengers, babies included.
  • Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.


Email Jared Steed at jared.steed@atlasobscura.com.

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Advance ticket sales only. All ticket sales are final. No refunds or exchanges.