Early Wednesday morning finds PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II becalmed midway between Winyah Bay and the finish line off the end of Frying Pan Shoal. While we wait for the return of wind, I found myself reflecting upon our new friends ~ PRIDE’s liaison officers from Savannah.
PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II’s attendance at Savannah’s Tall Ships Challenge Port Festival was graced by a group of tireless and humorous Savannah volunteer “Liaison” officers….Bill, Lisa, Ray and Stuart. What is a Tall Ship Challenge Port Festival Liaison Officer? Why is that a good thing for a visiting tall ship to a port festival? Port festivals arranged in partnership with Tall Ships America, a membership based national entity that organizes Tall Ship Challenge Race events on behalf of sail training vessels from around the country as well those tall ships visiting from around the world; provide local knowledge assistance to the visiting ships as well crowed control for the festival.
Local knowledge assistance to visiting ships is a wonderful service! Every visiting ship has needs after a voyage. Getting those needs met without the presence or availability of locals to assist can be very challenging. Just having locals helping to determine if a particular need is available locally is a great time saver. For those things that are available locally having volunteers interested and willing to take a member of the crew to fetch the item in question also reduces the ordinary challenge of getting from the ship to the supplier and back. When it was time for PRIDE’s cook Kevin Moran to go shopping, having Savannah’s Liaisons willing and able assistance made the going and shopping for the ship for 10 days of food so much easier than it would have been were PRIDE visiting on her own and did not have local volunteers assisting.
Crowd control for a tall ship festival is a very important thing, particularly at the point of boarding and debarking the visiting tall ships. Vessel gangways are not the same as steps or entryways into and out of buildings. Vessel gangways are typically narrow and often involve temporary steps that are not arranged the same way for a building. The docks a tall ship might be tied to may also involve ramps and steps. Altogether there is a lot of climbing and descending as one goes from shore to ship and back. Hosting large numbers of interested public of all ages, from the toddler to the senior, interested to see the tall ships requires diligent organizing by persons dedicated to the safety of the visiting public, who typically are not familiar with the sometimes awkward process of getting aboard and then back ashore again from a vessel.
All this being understood, what makes the above less than the work it can really be is the personality of volunteer liaisons. In Savannah, Bill, Lisa, Ray and Stuart were significantly more than just persons assigned to assist PRIDE. They were very interested in PRIDE because of what she represented to them. They requested to be PRIDE’s Liaison Officers. That acute personal interest brought out of us crew of PRIDE a strong sense of common interest and this always brings about stories and tales, along with all humor.
Days are long aboard any tall ship. It starts with being woken up for breakfast. While the commute is short…no sooner have you eaten and attended to your person then it is straight to work. Work during a port festival starts with flags and cleaning up the ship, as well organizing for the significant numbers of visitors. Right there on the dock waiting as the crew come on deck for work were PRIDE’s Liaison Officers…ready to attend to any and all of our external needs. During the day they managed the visiting crowds. On average PRIDE was visited by 1,500 persons per day for three full days in a row spanning from 10 in the morning till 6 in the evening. Often PRIDE’s liaisons did not say goodbye for the day until well into the evening. The mutual team work between PRIDE’s crew and her Savannah Liaisons made friends of us all and left memories of a great time in Savannah.
Cheers and much thanks!
Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II