TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Series Official Blog

Sea stories, scuttlebutt and fantastic photos covering America\’s official Tall Ships® Races!

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Posted by Tall Ships America on July 16, 2010

By Libby

I had heard that Bay City was a wonderful city to have the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® in. But I had no idea just how welcoming and hospitable the people and organizers of the festival would be. Basically the way to a sailor’s heart (while in port) is through: showers, laundry and lots of free food and beverages, which is exactly what we got upon our arrival. Personally I was the happiest about showers after getting intimate with Denis Sullivan’s anchor chain on the second night of the voyage, but I know that everyone in the fleet enjoyed the welcome BBQ last night.

 Right now it is day one of the festival here in Bay City and the lines are already out the gates, and the sun is up with barely a cloud in sight. For now my home is the S/V Denis Sullivan, however I am moving on to a new ship in a few days to make my way up to Duluth, MN for the next leg of the race. I am a little sad to be leaving the awesome crew of the Sullivan, who have been so supportive of Becca and I while we have lived and worked alongside them for the past two weeks. Sad feelings aside, I am excited to say that I will be joining the Brig Roald Amundsen of Germany for ten days leaving Bay City this Monday and arriving in Duluth on the 29th. This will be an interesting voyage to say the least. First of all, I will have to familiarize myself with a new rig, as well as a new crew, not to mention a new language. To say that my German is limited would be a complete understatement. I pretty much can count to five, say ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘good night’, ‘I love you’ and ‘I hate you’. However pathetic my German is, it far surpasses my Dutch which many of the crew from Barque Europa speak. And luckily enough I won’t be joining her for a while, so hopefully I have time to brush up on my Dutch as I learn German.

Although the next two weeks may be a little scary and unfamiliar, I am really excited because I know that love for tall ship sailing is a universal language, even if you have never sailed before. There is an old poem by John Masefield (below) that is quoted time and time again, and is even recited after every voyage of the Denis Sullivan,  that I feel is appropriate for this occasion. If you are reading this blog, I assume that you have an interest in tall ships. So to you I say, “I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide, Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied”. That is to say if you are interested in sailing tall ships but are unsure if you are too old, too young, too busy, too inexperienced or whatever, stop denying the call of the sea. Go! Sail! It’s never too late or too early. Tall ships exist and yes, YOU can sail on them.

 However, I understand that many people have jobs and families that they cannot leave. In that case come down and visit the festival, meet the crew, look at the ships, spin the helm and keep visiting the blog for more of our sailing adventures, because it looks as though there are many ahead of us.

 “Sea-Fever” by John Masefield

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.


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