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Home again, home again

Posted by Tall Ships America on September 3, 2008

With bittersweet emotions,  Jonathan (the Race Director) and I boarded the red-eye flight home last Monday from San Diego. What a wonderful event to end the summer! Starting with the dramatic entrance of the Colombian Navy’s sail training vessel Gloria, the festival was a whirlwind of activity as the Race Team worked long hours while at the same time trying to appreciate that this was the final event of the summer.

Jonathan and I arrived in San Diego from San Pedro a few days early as usual while Jo, Karen and Jesse were sailing on the Eagle as part of the EAGLE Seamanship Program.  We set up the tent next to the inflatable grey whale and the Monkey’s Fist Challenge then went off to get our bearings of the event site. 

The San Diego Maritime Museum is incredible. It is actually an old passenger ferry converted into a museum and offices and, as I walked around, I had to keep reminding myself that I was actually on a floating vessel. The museum itself is informative and entertaining. I spent most of the afternoon clambering about the engine rooms of the ferry boat and wandering the fantastic special exhibit, “The Art of the Boat”, Photographs from the Rosenfeld Collection , on maritime photographers Morrisand Stanley Rosenfeld that was on loan from Mystic Seaport, Inc. 

On Wednesday, the ships began to arrive with a Parade of Sail at 10am. The Port of San Diego is huge, large enough to accomodate cruise ships and a massive naval presence.  The best entrance was by the Colombian Navy’s sail training vessel, Gloria . As she sailed in, the cadets were lined up on the yards (all the way to very top of the masts!), singing the national anthem. Local Colombians thronged the pier, singing along to the music and enthusiastically waving the Colombian colors.

                                 

Later that afternoon, I went over to the Eagle to find out how the EAGLE Seamanship Program fared. There were many tired but happy faces and, to my surprise, I saw group of red-shirted program participants up in the rigging, furling sails! These were the same teens who, three days ago, stepped onto the deck of the Eagle as wide-eyed novices and there they were, up on the yards, working side by side with the seasoned crew of the Coast Guard.  

   

All too soon, it was time to pack up the booth and say goodbye to new friends.  That Monday morning, the San Diego waterfront was silent for the first time in days. No longer was cannon fire echoing throughout downtown (those battle sails were right in the harbor, it was awesome), Mike’s Barbeque was no longer sending great plumes of smoke into the air (it was delicious) and the 40 foot inflatable grey whale was deflated.  Karen, Jesse and Jo were staying in the city, while Jonathan and I headed back to Newport, RI. It was so hard to believe that Labor Day weekend was rapidly approaching, it felt like yesterday that Jonathan and I  were anxiously flying our way out to Seattle to meet our interns for the first time and start on the first portion of the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE(r) Race Series. Three months later, the interns were salty sailors and we were all honorary Newfoundlanders.

We had a great time this summer and were able to experience some truly unique aspects of the Pacific Coast.  The hospitality and genuine enthusiasm displayed by the host cities for the tall ships and their crews will make this a summer we won’t soon forget. We met so many incredible, generous people along the way that 2011 can’t come soon enough! 

(Also, so much did not get posted into the blog during the summer that I will continue to update until I run out of material. We’ll just let the summer last a little bit longer…)

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