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Sailing on Playfair

Posted by Tall Ships America on August 5, 2016

Pride of Baltimore II and Playfair. Photo by George

Pride of Baltimore II and Playfair. Photo by George

By Intern George

July 22, Friday

We are on Playfair, a brigantine that is the only ship to be commissioned by a reigning monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  Playfair sails under the Canadian flag. It is a great feeling with all hands on deck, everyone is busy, the wind softly cooling, the sun on your face, and knowing there is a destination but not knowing when you might make it. You’re not worried about this, you’re just happy to be part of the crew and have something new to do. On a tall ship you learn that you don’t need much to feel content.

We help Playfair sail herself; the wind is in her sails and the crew at peace with her smooth sailing, she makes us all feel like skilled sailors. We are working together for success and as we work together in close physical boundaries, we socialize. We find that we are all passionate about our work and, even though we are all doing different jobs, we find that our goals are the same. We just finished the race from Bay City, MI to the Straits of Mackinac around Bois Blanc Island with Playfair finishing second in the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE®. Working together successfully calls for some maritime merriment.

We have five days before we have to be in Chicago so our captain, Colin Burt, manages to sweet-talk his way into free docking and bathroom and shower facilities for us on Mackinac Island. My home is in Chicago but in my free time I am a Michigander. My family spends a good amount of time vacationing in the UP (Upper Peninsula) at our family farm. Mackinac Island connects the upper and lower parts of Michigan and I have never been able to fit a visit in. I find that I am just as excited about docking as the crowds are in the marina from the surprise visit of couple tall ships.

We dock-up next to the Pride of Baltimore II and the crew begins buzzing like busy bees to tidy up and make Playfair orderly and looking its best.  This job was compounded with endless questions from people walking the pier. The crew is pleased to share their adventures in sailing and knowledge of the ship to the delighted visitors. With our curiosity to go ashore at bay, we entertain the crowd as we tell our sailing stories with pride and pleasure.

A hot water shower is a precious commodity on a tall ship and as we go ashore on Mackinac Island the crew races for the opportunity to be the first in the shower.  As in sailing, the not knowing how long it will take to get to a destination, it is the same with a shower; not knowing how long the hot water will last.

Free to roam and explore the island we find it to be a unique scene. There is a lot of action but in a Victorian style.  We hit the shops for personal items, souvenirs, and, of course, the fudge and ice cream. I ended my day watching the sunset on the shore with the Mackinac Bridge in sight. I am thinking of my family hoping the wind and waves are on our side as we navigate to Chicago for the Navy Pier festival. Even if is it is only for a few days, I’m going home!

We are catching up with the intern’s adventures throughout the summer. Last week, they were at the Pepsi® Tall Ships® Chicago 2016 and this week we are at the Tall Ship® Festival presented by Nicolet Bank in Green Bay. Ben raced out of Chicago on Appledore IV and George sailed up to Sturgeon Bay aboard Draken Harald Harfagre. They will both be sharing their experiences here on the blog.

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