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Be prepared

Posted by Tall Ships America on August 24, 2016

Photo by George

Photo by George

By Intern George

I learned to tie my shoes at a young age and can do this quickly with my eyes shut because it is a mechanical ability that I can never forget because I use it everyday.  If you’re not an avid sailor it seems as if there are thousands of knots to learn, along with the importance of knowing how to tie and use all kinds of knots.

When you look at a tall ship, there are lines (rope) everywhere.  Knots are used to control the various lines, control the sails, raising and lowering the anchors, holding down rigging, docking, and many more jobs. I knew that using the wrong knot could cause problems.

I found out the hard way that I was a hindrance to the crew. It’s not that I don’t have the passion to learn to be a good sailor and be an important part of the crew, or had the assistance from experienced crew. It’s that I lacked the knowledge of knots and the years of practice to get my muscle memory to kick in to tie these knots with blind composure.

An important tip that I can give you if you plan to set off on a sailing adventure is to get a few knots under your belt months before you set off. I had bought a book of knots for my trip thinking that I would learn and practice on the job. In my ignorance I became an albatross to the crew and an embarrassment to myself.

So remember, don’t overlook the importance of the most common thing: tying knots is a very significant sailing skill. Learning to tie a few basic sailor knots and practice them until you can do them with your eyes closed. Knots will keep you safe and secure on your adventure.

George is sailing aboard When & If, on his way to Marquette. He then heads home to Chicago. Ben is already back in New York City and leaves for college tomorrow. It’s hard to believe the interns are back on shore already!

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Posted in 2016 | Leave a Comment »

It’s a two-fer #TALLSHIPSTUESDAY! Let’s learn about Pathfinder and Playfair

Posted by Tall Ships America on August 23, 2016

 We’re featuring our fleet of vessels that you can see, hear, and touch when they come to your host city this summer as part of the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Great Lakes 2016 Race Series.


Toronto Brigantine-Playfairlr





Where you’ll find the ships
Toronto, ON. This summer they will be at Redpath Waterfront Festival, presented by PortsToronto; Tall Ship Celebration: Bay City; Tall Ships® Brockville




Fun Facts
 The name “brigantines” comes from the Italian word brigantino meaning a pirate ship and was associated with the vessels favoured by them in the Mediterranean.

Their backstories
The two brigantines are specifically designed as sail training ships. Both ships sail the Great Lakes throughout the summer with a full youth crew aged 13-18, the exception being an adult captain. Each year, each ship sails over 4,000 miles, spends over 40 nights at sea, and introduces 300 trainees to the tall ship experience.

Who Sails
Youth programs, school groups from middle school through college, and interested adult groups.


Posted in #tallshipstuesday, 2016, Bay City, MI, Toronto | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Tall Ships America on August 19, 2016

Can you see George on deck?

Can you see George on deck? Hint: Find the red shirt…

By Intern George

August 1, Monday

I see red. The dried blood red meant to inspire fear at the site of Draken Harald Hårfagre and sense of aggression, anger, hostility, and danger sends a shiver up my spine. As I step onto the Viking vessel with the dragon carved into the prow, her centrally placed mast with a single square sail, and her decorative shields covering her graceful “clinker” style hull I feel empowered with strength, stealth, and vigor. I am in love.

As a boy, I have always fantasized sailing in a Viking ship. Illustrative pictures in storybooks or cartoons have always romanticized the profile this ship has, and I feel fortunate for the opportunity to sail on the Draken for Tall Ships America, most likely her last voyage in the Great Lakes. She bravely crossed the Atlantic Ocean with her expert and cheerful crew to show us one of the finest artistic and constructed tall ships in the fleet.

All hands on deck as we set sail after supper. Leaving the Windy City, we are underway by 1700 and headed for Green Bay with a couple of stops planned along the way. We will sail throughout the night with our sights set on Manitowoc. I am stationed on the 3rd starboard watch, which meant I was going to have the 8 to 12 shifts. Those hours are very enjoyable because they have a normal sleep schedule. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 2016, Duluth, Green Bay, WI, Internship Program | Leave a Comment »

It’s #TALLSHIPSTUESDAY! Let’s learn about When and If

Posted by Tall Ships America on August 16, 2016

We’re featuring our fleet of vessels that you can see, hear, and touch when they come to your host city this summer as part of the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Great Lakes 2016 Race Series.

When and If

When and If



Where you’ll find the ship

Key West, FL. This summer When and If will be in the following TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® ports: Tall Ships® Fairport Harbor; Tall Ship Celebration: Bay City; Pepsi® Tall Ships® Chicago 2016; Tall Ship Festival (Green Bay) presented Nicolet National Bank; Tall Ships® Duluth 2016; Tall Ships® Erie 2016; Tall Ships® Brockville

Fun Facts
She was originally built for Gen. George S. Patton to sail around the world “When the war is over, and if I live through it…”

The backstory

The Alden schooner was built in 1939 in Maine and remained in the Patton family until the 1970s when she was sold to a Landmark school in Massachusetts. In 1994, she was relaunched and remained in private hands for the next 20 years, racing in various classic yacht regattas. In 2012 she was extensively restored and now is open to the public.

Who Sails

Individuals of all ages


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Posted in #tallshipstuesday, 2016, Bay City, MI, Chicago, IL, Duluth, Green Bay, WI | Leave a Comment »

Superior’s Welcome, or The Storm

Posted by Tall Ships America on August 15, 2016

By Intern Ben

Under Mackinac Bridge Photo by Ben

Under Mackinac Bridge
Photo by Ben

You like lakes? They got great lakes in the midwest… one of them is superior!

-Jim Gaffigan

The crew aboard When And If was stranded in Green Bay Monday and Tuesday, waiting for a critical engine component to arrive by overnight shipping from Seattle. Despite the drudgery of waiting for a delivery and a mechanic, the short layover afforded us plenty of time to complete important tasks, like cleaning the heads, cleaning the refrigerator and cleaning the coolers. Monday night saw the confirmation that the part had shipped, among other surprises. Our wonderful ship liaison invited us for a barbecue and had secured us tickets to Jim Gaffigan’s comedy performance the same night. It was clear at that point that being stranded in Wisconsin had its advantages.

Luckily the next morning saw the prompt delivery of the transmission component we’d been waiting for, as well as the arrival of the mechanic to aid in the installation. By the evening, we were off, and steaming up the bay towards the open waters of Lake Michigan.

The night and morning showed little wind as we made our way towards the Straits of Mackinac, and this time I made sure to be awake as we made our way under the bridge.

We headed north around the Island and stopped for a swim call, eager for one last dip before reaching the frigid waters of Lake Superior. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 2016, Duluth | 2 Comments »

It’s #TALLSHIPSTUESDAY! Let’s learn about Denis Sullivan

Posted by Tall Ships America on August 9, 2016

We’re featuring our fleet of vessels that you can see, hear, and touch when they come to your host city this summer as part of the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Great Lakes 2016 Race Series.


Denis Sullivan Photo Discovery World

Denis Sullivan
Photo Discovery World

Where you’ll find the ship
Milwaukee, WI. This summer Denis Sullivan will be in the follow TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE(r) ports: Tall Ships® Fairport Harbor; Tall Ship Celebration: Bay City; Pepsi® Tall Ships® Chicago 2016; Tall Ship Festival (Green Bay) presented Nicolet National Bank; Tall Ships® Duluth 2016; Tall Ships® Erie 2016

Fun Facts
Denis Sullivan is the only replica of a three masted Great Lakes schooner in the world. Right now, they have a crowd sourcing campaign underway. Click here to help them meet their goals and learn more about their programs.

The backstory

The ship is a goodwill ambassador for the State of Wisconsin and is owned and operated by Discovery World in Milwaukee. From her homeport, the schooner offers educational day sails and private charters for people of all ages from May through September. The programming is committed to re-establishing the historical, cultural and environmental bonds between the community and one of it’s most valuable resources, the Great Lakes.

Who sails
Students and the general public



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Posted in #tallshipstuesday, 2016, Bay City, MI, Chicago, IL, Duluth, Green Bay, WI | Leave a Comment »

Sailing Senses Part 4 of 4: Sarcasm

Posted by Tall Ships America on August 8, 2016

By Intern Ben

Surely you can’t be serious.

            I am serious… and don’t call me Shirley.


The start of race four aboard Appledore IV featured the steepest of learning curves. Our minimal crew of seven, and the fact that only two of those actually belonging to the ship made for an interesting experience to say the least. The crew exchange in Chicago had robbed the schooner of its usual crew, one to the Draken Harald Hårfagre, another to El Galéon Andalucia, and the last to the U.S. Brig Niagara. As the

Monday morning broke aboard the ship, the regular crew started trickling out, and strangers started appearing on the gangway. Myself, a Chicago sailor from aboard the Red Witch, and the cook from El Galéon Andalucia. It was an interesting start.

The race continued into the afternoon and through the evening, and unlike many of the last races, the fleet seemed to group up as the race progressed, rather than growing further apart. Despite the schooner’s upwind advantage, it took most of the evening to finally pass Niagara, and most of the night to finally come abreast of Pride of Baltimore II, only to have them pass us with the wind shift.

Wednesday bloomed hot and humid, and the 20 knots of southerly wind that had been promised turned into something only a little bit better than a doldrum out of the southwest. We sweated through constant gibes and sail changes, and finally resigned to putting up an awning over the aft section to try to relieve ourselves from some of the torrid heat.

The captain came on deck to find several crew members lounging on the cabin top, glorying in our newly-made shade.

“Well, there’s our extra canvas.”

Through the light winds of the previous day and evening, all the talk aboard had been of how to maximize the schooner’s sail area. We’d had a main gaff topsail, a small sail that closes the gap between the gaff of the mainsail and the main topmast. We’d even taken the small sail out of the ship’s dinghy and sent it aloft on the foremast, a crude imitation of the same technique.

“Heck, at this point we might as well take our bedsheets and sew ‘em together for a spinnaker.”

It was also something of a sore topic for the original crew. In their haste from Bay City, they had neglected to bring aboard their fisherman sail– a large auxiliary piece of sail that goes up between the masts on traditionally-rigged schooners. With the wind on our quarter getting lighter, every inch of canvas raised meant more speed, and quicker relief from the oppressive temperature. Niagara had gone so far as to leave its cutter outboard of its rail, but with its sail raised in the hope of catching that much more breeze. Now it seemed our captain wanted to do them one better.

“Surely you can’t be serious…”

“Hell yeah, down-rig it, take the gaff from the dinghy and meet me on the bow.”

After a good deal of finicking, we’d come up with a jerry-rigged square sail. Captain Christopher affectionately christened it the fore-course, but the oblong rectangle that hung from the foremast was nothing short of ridiculous.

The sail in question... Photo credit J Clark

The sail in question…
Photo credit J Clark

Sarcasm is the sailor’s constant companion. It is his friend in all things. It gets him through the day, releases his anger, distracts him from his hunger and fatigue, and above all, gets him through these little bits of ridiculousness that pervade his profession.

However much we tease each other, we tease landlubbers more. One sailor I knew after being asked if the Chicago water intakes in Lake Michigan were floating circus tents went on to regale his passenger of the elephants and clowns he had seen the night before.

Intake "circus tents"

Intake “circus tents”

So it might have been funny to see a group of grown men putting up what amounted to a sun umbrella for a sail. Laughing about its size and shape and making as if to go below, gather shirts and sheets and start sewing new sails. But don’t laugh — that stupid sun umbrella got us a half a knot of speed!


Posted in 2016, Chicago, IL, Green Bay, WI, Internship Program, Races | Leave a Comment »

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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Posted in 2016, Chicago, IL, Green Bay, WI, Internship Program | Leave a Comment »

Sail on EAGLE this September!

Posted by Tall Ships America on August 4, 2016

USCGC Eagle. Photo Credit: Thad Koza

USCGC Eagle. Photo Credit: Thad Koza

Enjoy a unique opportunity for Tall Ships America Members to advance their professional training, qualifications, skills, and credentials in a sail training program aboard America’s Tall Ship.

Experienced tall ships sailors are invited to join Captain Meilstrup and Coast Guard Officer Candidates on a voyage September 3rd to 17th. Restrictions apply. Applicants will be accepted on a first come, first served basis.

During this run, sailors will join Coast Guard crew and officer trainees. Participants will embark on Saturday, September 3rd, in Baltimore, MD. EAGLE will moor in Charleston, SC on Friday, September 9th. EAGLE will depart Charleston on Monday, September 12th and sail back to Baltimore for arrival on Saturday, September 17th.

This opportunity is open to new applicants only. Applicants must be current Tall Ships America members between 18 and 50 years of age and should be experienced mariners interested in professional development. Be advised that berthing is in the trainee accommodations.

This experience will be a great resume-enhancer and tonnage-time booster! Applications must be received no later than 15 August at 1700 EDT.

See below for program and application details.

Program Details:

1.)You must be at least 18 years old and not more than 50 years old.

2.) You must be fit, willing and able to work aloft. You must pass a medical clearance.

3.) You must be a U.S. Citizen.

4.) You will be full a participant, along with the USCG trainees, in the operation of the ship: standing watch, helm, lookout, bridge, maintenance, working aloft, galley and all other regular trainee duties.

5.) You are welcome and STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to attend training classes with the USCG trainees.

6.) The ideal candidate is an experienced, rising sail training practitioner. This program is not for “Old Salts”, and it is not for first-timers.

7.) Upon successful completion of the program, EAGLE will issue to you (if you request it) a letter of Sea Service or other formal documentation of your sea service in EAGLE. 8.) Participants must pay $12/day for food and expenses, etc.

Application Details:

1.) All applications must be submitted electronically to Tall Ships America at erin@tallshipsamerica.org

2.) You must be a Tall Ships America member in good standing to apply. Not a member? Become one now!

3.) Applications must include the following:

a.) Resume of your traditional ship experience, as crew or as trainee

b.) Letter of recommendation from your current (or most recent) Captain or First Mate

c.) Completed Waiver of Liability and Indemnity Agreement (to be completed once application is received and accepted)

d.) Completed Guest Medical Forms. NOTE: This requires a consultation with a doctor.

This opportunity is available to you based on the mutual regard and respect that is shared between the EAGLE leadership and Tall Ships America, and in support of our shared mission in promoting leadership training under sail. This is truly a rare and special opportunity, and we are very happy to be able make it available to you, the up-and-coming next generation of sail training officers and crew.

We expect that all participants in this program will work hard and do their best to uphold the excellent relations that exist between EAGLE and the civilian sail training community, and in all ways observe and respect the policies, procedures, and rules of comportment as established aboard EAGLE.

Posted in Charleston, SC, Member Programs, USCG | Leave a Comment »

It’s #TALLSHIPSTUESDAY! Let’s learn about Windy

Posted by Tall Ships America on August 2, 2016

We’re featuring our fleet of vessels that you can see, hear, and touch when they come to your host city this summer as part of the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Great Lakes 2016 Race Series.



Where you’ll find the ship
Chicago, IL. This summer she will be at Pepsi® Tall Ships® Chicago 2016; Tall Ship Festival (Green Bay) presented Nicolet National Bank

Fun Facts
Windy is the first certified four-masted traditional sailing vessel built in the U.S.A. since 1921.

Her Backstory
Windy was built by Detyens Shipyard, Inc. of Charleston SC. A custom design, she was conceived by Captain Robert Marthai, longtime sailor and traveler, also became a maritime adventurer, maritime historian, designer and shipbuilder. From the beginning, her mission was intended to bring Tall Ship sailing to the public, for enjoyment, personal and spiritual growth, and self-discovery. In the years since coming to Navy Pier, Windy saw many thousands of students, Girl Scout, Boy Scouts, youth groups, families and other guests across her decks for educational cruises, daysailing, festivals, religious, corporate, and private celebrations. Since 2008, Tall Ship Windy is now the pride and joy of husband-and-wife owner/management team Captain Bruce Randall and Karen Randall. Windy provides an opportunity for people from all walks of life to experience an authentic tall ship and crew while sailing in a safe and protected waterway.

Who Sails
Children, adults and seniors


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Posted in #tallshipstuesday, 2016 | Leave a Comment »

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