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Meet a new friend, learn something new in Bay City

Posted by Tall Ships America on July 22, 2013

On the water in Bay City

On the water in Bay City

Every morning, Jerry, an enthusiastic and dedicated volunteer at the Tall Ship(R) Celebration: Bay City event last week, would end our Liason Officer meetings with a robust, “Give me an AAARRRR!… give me another AAARRRRR!!…What’s that spell? AAARRRRR!” It never failed to elict laughter from the Liaison Officers and they always left the meeting with a smile, eager to head back to their ships for another day of visitors. Just prior to the call and response, Kathy, the Head Liaison Officer, would ask everyone if they learned something new or if they made a new friend. Invariably, there would be a funny story about a silly nautical term (baggywrinkle is always a favorite) or a touching story heard on line. Like the AAARRRS! , it would remind us that, despite the long days and the heat and (very rarely) the problems,  we were lucky to be part of this amazing festival. For many of the ship liaisons, this was their fifth festival and their fifth time being a ship liaison officer. There honestly wasn’t a whole lot that they couldn’t handle. The liaison program in Bay City is practically a legacy program and entire families take the week off to work together on one ship. It is incredible and makes a huge difference to the ships, knowing that they are in such capable hands.


Trainees take down sail, with an audience

Trainees take down sail, with an audience


But Bay City isn’t just about the Liaison Officers. It is about the crews, the ships, and the outpouring of community support that makes this event so special (Bay City has won Port of the Year, twice) .  It seemed as though every store in town had a special for the visiting crew- the local beauty academy was offering free haircuts, laundry was picked up daily from the dock, the music festival Ballads and Brews was free every night for them, and even Hooters threw in free wings (I thought the fried pickles were better, note to self).

We had spectacular weather the first few days, perfect festival weather and the crowds turned out by the thousands to see the fleet – Appledore IV, Unicorn, Peacemaker, Sorlandet, Pride of Baltimore II, Niagara, Lynx, Madeline, Pathfinder, Playfair, and Denis Sullivan.

Out on the bowsprit of US Brig Niagara

Out on the bowsprit of US Brig Niagara

The final night of Bay City was the crew party, generously hosted by the DoubleTree Hotel. The Race Three-Cleveland to Pelee Passage- winners were announced with a bit of an upset amongst the 1812 schooners, Privateer Lynx came in first, followed by Pride of Baltimore II and Niagara, all on corrected time.

The next day, Monday, the ships departed for the start line. Because the wind had died down and we saw that it no wind was predicted for the next two days (the time limit of the race from Tawas Point up to Drummond Island) we decided that instead of having the ships bob around in no wind and sweat for the next 48 hours, that they would go up to Thunder Bay, MI and start the race there (keeping our fingers crossed that the wind will be better 60nm north). Unfortunately, that meant that I would not be able to be at the race start but hopefully Brian and Eliza weren’t too busy to take photos.

First Place Lynx in Race Three

First Place Lynx in Race Three

This week, the ships are in Lake Superior making their way ever westward to Duluth for the Tall Ships(R) Duluth 2013 event, starting Thursday with the Parade of Sail. Patti and I will once again be on the aerial lift bridge directing the parade and experiencing one of the coolest views.  We’ll also get an update from the interns about the race from Bay City and how their weekends went – Brian was on Lynx in Sault Ste. Marie, ON and Eliza was on Sorlandet in Thunder Bay, ON. Onward to Duluth!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @tallshipsfleet for photos and video from the festival. For additional photos from Bay City and the other TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE(r) Great Lakes 2013 ports, be sure to check out our Flickr photostream.

A sunny afternoon in the park

A sunny afternoon in the park




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