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By Samms, Mike | Sea Classics, July 2013 | Go to article overview

Museum News


Samms, Mike, Sea Classics


The age of sailing ships may be over, but the romance and adventure they inspired still blows our hair back.

This summer, majestic, one-of-akind tall ships may be coming to a city near you with their sails unfurled. The massive sails measuring 45-ft wide can pull a 400ton ship across the water at 20-mph in a stiff wind.

Tall ships ruled the ocean for centuries and changed the world from flat to round. Sadly, they also fueled the slave trade, while helping a new nation stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Today, replicas and other traditionally rigged sailing vessels reflect some of the deepest-seated aspects of American culture - independence, mobility, and team work. They remind us that because wind power was a renewable resource, hundreds of years ago, it opened the door to global travel for the first time in human history.

Here are five events guaranteed to be a sailor's delight this summer:

1. TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE, GREAT LAKES REGION

This is the captain of American sailing events.

From June through September, more than a dozen vessels from around the world will show off in spectacular fashion in Chicago; Cleveland; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Duluth, Minnesota; Toronto; Erie, Pennsylvania; and elsewhere.

Without a doubt, the highlight will be the bicentennial reenactment of 1813's Battle of Lake Erie on Labor Day weekend.

For the first time in 200-yrs, 17 tall ships will line up against each other and fire black gunpowder cannons to recreate the fight against the British that allowed the United States to secure its current border with Canada.

Stars of this massive choreographed water dance include the stunning 210ft, 86-yr-old training vessel Sorlandet - which will sail all the way from its home in Norway.

Also look for the Pride of Baltimore II, a 100-ft replica of a 19th-century privateer schooner.

But the big daddy of this battle is the 110-ft US Brig Niagara, which bills itself as the largest wooden square-rigger in the United States that still takes people sailing.

When the shooting starts at noon 2 September, expect the sound of cannon fire to carry at least fivemiles to the nearby Put-in-Bay, Ohio, resort area.

2. FESTIVAL OF SAIL, SAN DIEGO

They say it's the West Coast's largest tall ship festival and in the California tradition, it's got a movie star.

The festival draws about 200,000 visitors to San Diego's North Embarcadero area each Labor Day weekend - many who come to see the tall ship HMS Surprise, star of 2003's Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World with Russell Crowe. The Surprise is a replica of a 24-gun British frigate. …

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