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Deal: Tour two of America's early tall ships when they dock in Ventura

Two tall ships will sail to Ventura Harbor this month, and visitors can get a close-up look for a $3 donation

Tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain will sail into Ventura Harbor in mid-January and stick around for a few weeks. Visitors can see the ships firsthand on dock-side tours that cost less than a Starbucks latte.

The deal: Both ships were built in the 20th century but draw their inspiration from vessels that sailed centuries earlier, according to a statement from Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority in Aberdeen, Wash.

They travel together along the California Coast each year and stop at ports to provide a history lesson about life at sea during America's early years.

The ships are scheduled to arrive in Ventura on Jan. 13 and will remain until Feb. 4. You can talk with crew members and get an inside look during walk-on tours available on selected dates. A $3 donation per person that funds summer education programs is suggested (you may give more, of course); no reservations are required.

The Lady Washington is a replica of a ship built in the 1750s that explored the West Coast of North America, the statement says. The Hawaiian Chieftain's design was inspired by 19th century cargo trade ships that sailed in the Hawaiian Islands.

When: Walk-on tours begin Jan. 14 and end Feb. 4. They're available 4-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays, and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays (one ship only), and on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 19) and Feb. 3 (4 to 5 p.m).

Additional activities: Those who want to experience what it's like to sail out to sea on a tall ship can book an Adventure Sail or a reenacted Battle Sail (yes, they fire cannons) for $39 to $75 per person. Buy tickets online at the Grays Harbor website or call (800) 200-5239. 

If you just want to see the ships and photograph them, best viewing spots are from Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center, Harbor Cove Beach and Ventura Harbor Village.

Info: Ventura Harbor and Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority

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