Photo: Pride of Baltimore II at the 2019 Tall Ship Celebration in Bay City, Michigan, July 21, 2019, by Great Lakes Drone Works
Date: Monday, July 22, 2019
Position: Bay City, Michigan
The heat is upon us all. Even here in the Great Lakes port town of Bay City on the Saginaw River. Just about the whole nation is in a significant heatwave. So it’s a hot festival. 😎
Bay City is festival port weekend number four in three weeks, starting with Toronto’s weekend tall ship festival, followed by Buffalo’s, followed by Cleveland’s, now Bay City’s.
There have been two tall ship Races. The first was on Lake Ontario between the first summer weekend festival in Toronto and the second summer weekend festival in Buffalo. Then on western Lake Erie between the third summer weekend festival in Cleveland and the fourth summer weekend festival in Bay City.
The fifth summer weekend festival will be in Green Bay. Followed by the sixth summer weekend festival in Kenosha. The seventh summer weekend festival will be in Midland, Ontario, for a part of the fleet; another part of the fleet will be in Sarnia, Ontario, across the St. Clair River from Port Huron, Michigan. Summer weekend number eight will be in Kingsville, Ontario, on Lake Erie — a small harbor that will only have a small portion of the fleet. Yet a different part of the fleet is skipping the options on weekends number seven and eight (Midland/Sarnia and Kingsville) and instead going to Duluth from Kenosha for a separate and unaligned port festival rendezvous. Most of the port festivals are part of a series under the umbrella of Tall Ships America. This series is called TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Great Lakes 2019.
For the eighth summer weekend, Pride II will go her own separate way and spend a “long weekend” on Lake Charlevoix, Boyne City, Michigan. Come summer weekend number nine, Pride will be underway, bound for Brockville, Ontario, for summer weekend festival number ten. Those vessels that went to Duluth will have returned in time to rendezvous with the greater fleet for summer weekend number nine in Erie, Pennsylvania. Some of the Erie fleet will meet Pride in Brockville. The tenth summer weekend is Labor Day weekend, the symbolic end of summer, the last formal port call of Pride’s Great Lakes tour, and the beginning of her voyage toward home. Starting with going down the St. Lawrence River, then on in to the Atlantic and around Nova Scotia to the American East Coast.
Anyone tired yet? More likely confused. ‘Tis a pretty complicated summer.
The hosts of each of these port festivals are very activist minded. There are liaisons for each ship for every day in port. Squads of volunteers for each festival day are tasked with public crowd control and preserving festival security in partnership with individual ship security preserved by ships crews. There is coordination of ship logistics, like pumping out waste water and supplying fuel if needed; assistance with a myriad of ship errands; keeping up with informing ship personnel of parties in their honor; and services such as showers. Of course, coordination with the United States Coast Guard and local marine police forces regarding parades of sail, entry, mooring, and maintaining external security of the assembled vessels is always required.
As can be imagined, festivals are all-day affairs: overnight security of all the venues within festival grounds, daylong management of public interest and safety, daylong availability of emergency services. This list is only the tip of the iceberg of requirements. Leading up to such festivals are years and months and back-to-back days of fundraising and planning.
After the summer is over, a tally from the participating vessels “grading” of each port will occur. At some point, a port festival will be identified as the one that satisfied vessels the most. There is a great deal of hope in each port to be named the most satisfying by the fleet.
Monday, July 22, as I finish this log up, Pride is the first of the fleet to depart Bay City. The wind is against us in Saginaw Bay. So it is best to get over to Lake Huron and the more open expanse of that lake to see about getting some sailing in … Maybe around mid-afternoon.
Captain Jan C. Miles