Savannah has never before hosted a Tall Ships Challenge Festival. “Tall Ships Challenge” is annually organized by Tall Ships America, the United States national organization of sail training interests in America. Every year, on a different American coast and shore (East Coast, Great Lakes, West Coast), Tall Ships Challenge is a series of sail training races between hosting ports. In those hosting ports the ships agree to make themselves available for general public visitation and the ports agree to create “happenings” for the trainees.
It sounds sort of simple…but in fact it is very complicated. There are national and local security concerns. There are docking concerns trying to address how to moor the vessels safely where they are both close together and safely and easily accessible to the public. These issues represent government regulation and economic challenges. In Savannah’s case the city has been a major supporter and partner with private sectors in the support of making this Tall Ship Festival come together and be as much an entertainment and education success as possible.
Little “thank you” flourishes to recognize such dedication for a first time ever effort that involved a stunning number of different and sometimes competing interests are as important as it is for the organizers to make all the arrangements for such a complicated event.
Pride of Baltimore, Inc. was able to provide a uniquely special “thank you” to the City of Savannah. The presentation was a formal event inside the chambers of the Mayor and Council (some eight council members) and with representatives from different agencies of the city. Below you can read what my Partner Captain Jamie Trost wrote, and I very slightly edited for smoother flow, for the presentation. We have been repeatedly told by witnesses that Jamie’s and my presentation was extremely appreciated and a singular high point to the start of the festivities. I provide for your judgment what was presented…
“Madam Mayor, Council Members, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that we Captains for Pride of Baltimore II present your fair city with this authentic reproduction of a War of 1812 United States National Ensign in appreciation of the City of Savannah’s role as the inaugural Tall Ships Challenge Port for the War of 1812 Bicentennial. This “Star-Spangled Banner” has flown over Fort McHenry, in the very same spot where the proud flag inspired Francis Scott Key’s famous song, and also over Pride of Baltimore II, the goodwill ambassador for Maryland and the signature sailing reproduction of Baltimore’s famous 1812 Privateers. Ships may come and go with the tides, and our stay in Savannah will be all too short. But let this flag remain to mark the magnificent occasion of a visit by the worlds Tall Ships and to serve as a reminder that, of all the ports commemorating this year’s Bicentennial of America’s struggle to assert her freedoms, Savannah was first.”
What do all of you think? Did we captains do a good job…or what? All kidding aside, on behalf of Pride, Inc. and we two partner captains, I would like to thank Fort McHenry’s Ranger Scott Sheads for his and his team’s efforts to provide us with the gift of a Star-Spangled Banner actual flown over Fort McHenry.
Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II
Acting Executive Director