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San Diego Regional Meeting: A blast and a half

Posted by Tall Ships America on January 29, 2009

The  upper deck of the Berkeley, part of the San Diego Maritime Museum, was the setting for the American Sail Training Association’s Pacific Regional meeting last week. As the old ferry gently rocked back and forth, we were able to watch tall ships and sail boats sailing out on the San Diego Bay, and see planes land in what has to be the most centrally located airport of any major city.

All the while, port representatives from this past summer, a few new potential ports, ship captains and organizations, crew and  ASTA team members were busy discussing the 2008 TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE(r), possible schedules for 2011, additional programs to enhance the summer events, and the new member programs of 2009. It was a busy two days but the discussions were informative and fresh ideas abounded. We are already looking forward to our next event on the Pacific Coast in 2011!

The San Diego Maritime Museum is lucky enough to have a permanent collection of tall ships docked at the museum year round.  It is an impressive line-up of some amazingly historical vessels- the 1898 steam ferry Berkeley; the 1904 steam yacht Medea; the 1914 Pilot; the state’s official tall ship, Californian, a replica of a 19th century revenue cutter; the HMS Surprise, a replica of an 18th century Royal Navy frigate; and the oldest active ship, the Star of India, launched in 1863.

The Saturday after the regional meeting, a group of us were invited to be guests on board the Surprise for a battle sail in San Diego Bay (Thank you Robyn, Peter and Capt. Chris!).  The odds were a little unfair, the full-rigged Surprise against the sleek schooners Lynx, Californian and Amazing Grace.  What the Surprise lacked in speed and agility, we more than made up for in gun powder and noise. My ears rang from the cannons and the smell of black powder (not unlike rotten eggs) lingered in my jacket all afternoon.  The crew of Surprise was more than generous with their time, answering questions while scrambling up into the rigging to set the sails as we watched the other three vessels make their way towards us.   It was obvious this volunteer crew loved being on their ship, enthusiastically showing off their sail handling skills and watching boaters reactions as they comprehended the immensityof this square-rigger out for a sail.  Meanwhile, the echos of the cannon’s reverberated through downtown San Diego, the wind remained steady and it was a gorgeously sunny day.  There really can’t be a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than out sailing and shooting off cannons- it is an experience I won’t soon forget.

 Amazing Grace coming up on the stern of Surprise

AMAZING GRACE coming up on the stern of SURPRISE                                                close-shot

                                                                                                                                                          A close shot!


Preparing to leave the dock…

 surprise-getting-ready-to-leave                      surprise-holding-off-the-schooners  Fighting off the schooners          

       surprise-sail-crew                                                                   surprise-up-into-the-rigging       

Everyone heaves the lines…                                                                                                             Unfurling the sails….


Amazing Grace and Californian were doing circles around Surprise (but our cannons were louder)


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