Busy 2019 Great Lakes Tall Ship Festival Schedule

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

Summer time in Pure Michigan

Summer time spent in the upper part of “lower Michigan” on the shores of Lake Michigan is to experience one of the “purer” examples of the American water based holidays to be found in America. The area is remote from big city influence. So there is a very real “normal” America feel whenever we mingle with the public aboard or ashore. The streets and sidewalks of the small towns are wide. The residential areas are mostly individual homes. The “out of town” areas are truly rural. For one who comes from a life of cities and suburbia of the Mid-Atlantic when I am not sailing for a living I wonder what winter life is like here. The response from any true local tends to downplay my images of lots of snow and ice and the feeling that to go out in such is not a good idea, hence everyone must be stuck indoors. No matter my imaginings of winter here, during the summer everyone is outside all the daylight day…which is a lot longer than a summer day back in Maryland. Even when PRIDE is closed after a full day’s work the long daylight offers the public many more hours to view PRIDE. Our lives aboard are lived in public…except when we go down below.

I am back aboard PRIDE again after relieving my partner Captain Jamie Trost. I joined in Boyne City, Michigan. Since then PRIDE has sailed to Mackinac Island then on to Luddington. Soon we head off from this summer ideal to the “windy city” Chicago. Thus far weather has been sublime. Wind moderate and temperatures in the upper 80’s for the high.

PRIDE is very busy! Multiple day-sails per day with almost all of them full with 35 guests. Deck tour visitors have been numerous as well. Just as I describe above, everyone in this part of Michigan is outside doing something. Something novel like PRIDE visiting is a change worthy of experiencing. This certainly helps PRIDE contribute to her support as she raises the funds paid for day-sails and walking her decks!

But such business also means there is little else that can be done. Crew are hard pressed to get catch-up maintenance done because PRIDE is underway each port day. Sailing between ports of call provide little opportunity for cosmetic maintenance. Hence cosmetics become deferred. Fortunately the fresh water of the Lakes do not provide the same wear and tear as salt water does. I have hopes the four days in Chicago with no day-sails…only dockside deck tours…will provide for some chance to get some “get ahead” maintenance accomplished.

We had one mile stone experience. PRIDE and her crew were able to join with the Kidd family of Walloon Lake (just north of Boyne City) again at the family cottage and recall how this tradition started with Jack Kidd back in 1981…thirty years ago!

I was master of the first PRIDE OF BALTIMORE back in 1981 and it was another very busy season of port stops, general public deck tours and many corporate on-board receptions well into the evening. By mid August the crew were exhausted. Jack Kidd was a regular corporate co-host with the company he represented…Tate Architectural near Baltimore, Maryland…with business connections in most of the larger cities of the country. Jack prided himself with keeping an eye out for the welfare of those he worked with. PRIDE’s crew represented an important element to his successful corporate parties aboard through the crew keeping the guests safe as well providing them the opportunity to learn about life aboard and what a 1812 War Baltimore Schooner Privateer was and how they were the cause for the nations national anthem the Star Spangled Banner to be written in Baltimore. His invitation to come to the family cottage would require time not already set aside and another port stop and more work for the crew. I was hard pressed to accept his invitation…mostly because I could not be certain we would have the time…something that would not exist if the wind was against us between Milwaukee and Charlevois. But there was a strong chance the wind would be favorable, so the odds were there would be extra time. My stress involved how to say “no” if contrary weather did not come to my rescue. In the end, Jack was able to convince me that there would be no obligation to the crew save come to the cottage and relax. And relax they did…for at least six hours of Walloon Lake fun sailing, swimming, speed boat riding, ball games in the yard and of course, plenty of food and refreshments. Just the crew and Jacks family…no obligations to explain PRIDE or Baltimore or Maryland or what it’s like to be a crew member. That 1981 crew often reflected how beneficial the stop at Jack Kidd’s Walloon Lake Cottage was. For the following 30 years, every time the PRIDE crew sail in Lake Michigan, there is a visit to the Kidd Cottage on Walloon Lake. PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II is at this moment making her 11th trip into the Great Lakes. Each time the Kidd family has hosted the crew. Jack has been gone a while…but his sons continue the tradition. Well Jack, your tradition remains very much alive and the many crews always really appreciate the break from the busy life of presenting PRIDE to her public.

Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II

Superior Skies

Pos: 46:47.6’ N x 085:36.9’ W, 7 Nautical Miles North of Muskallonge Lake, Michigan
Wx: WNW F 4, Clear, with a sky full of stars
Sailing under Fores’l, Foretops’l, Stays’l and Jib at 7 knots

Pride of Baltimore II arriving Marquette…Oh Say Can You See!

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II is spending what seems like her final night in Lake Superior for 2011 sailing along happily with a steady West Northwesterly breeze. Simply writing the words “steady” and “breeze” together may just jinx us, but I have a feeling this time it will hold. This time.

Our weekend in Marquette was a great one. Starting off with Grand Arrival of short tacking up the Lower Harbor in company with our sister Privateer LYNX, crowds of onlookers gave a warm welcome to this excellent Michigan Harbor town. The Maritime Festival was well-attended and we enjoyed the hospitality of our friends from the Michigan Maritime Museum and aboard Marquettes official Flagship COASTER II a charming little family run schooner that we got to know when they were in our Flight for the Duluth Parade of Sail last year. With all three schooners underway together all three nights of the festival, Marquette Harbor took on the feel of another time. Though Baltimore Privateers were never a historic feature of Marquettes Sailing Era, this principal port of Michigans Iron Mining lands once saw scores of schooners sailing in and out.

War of 1812 Privateers Lynx and Pride of Baltimore II arriving Marquette, MI

By Monday morning, however, it was time to go. At muster, the wind was a light Southeast, despite the forecasts for West at 10-15 knots. As we prepared to depart Marquette the breeze shifted to the predicted values and allowed PRIDE II to make a departure under sail. With our sister privateer LYNX following along, we cleared the breakwater and set everything, including the Stuns’l and T’gallant, only to have the breeze fade a few hours later. With miles to go, we grudgingly turned on the engines and motored with a good deal of sail still set in the hopes of finding a breeze again.

With its larger than life scale yet completely landlocked placement, Lake Superior has some wildly unexpected weather. Trying to pin-point what conditions will be in three hours, let alone over several days, must lead forecasters to a great deal of hair pulling and shoulder shrugging. After two weeks of sailing here, we certainly empathize!

Breathlessly, our route took us along the shore and threading through Grand Island Harbor, off Munising, Michigan, where tree crowned rocky cliffs stood bold along both sides of the ship. Though a few miles out of the way, the passage was a worthwhile detour, and tantalized the crew for the spectacle of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, which lays just East of Grand Island.

In the shelter of the island, the faint breeze faded to nothing and we hoped there might be something workable once PRIDE II was back on the open Lake. There were distant squalls to the North and South on the radar, though nothing of threat immediately nearby. Clearing Sand Point and into the Northeastern reach of the passage, however, a drysquall gave us gusts in excess of 30 knots and had the crew scrambling as we shortened down to a manageable plan of just the Foresl and Staysl. Eventually, we took in even those, as the wind veered Northeasterly. Nearly as quickly as it had come on, the squall faded to a faint Easterly, leaving behind only a remnant chop.

With the excitement of the squall subsided, the crew and guest crew took in the drama of Pictured Rocks. For miles, the shore is sheer sand stone and limestone, stratified layers of brown, purple and sandy blonde, inset with caves and arches that centuries of Superior winters and storms have smashed in with waves and bored out with ice. In the late afternoon light, with sun focused through fissures in the clouds, the rocks nearly gleamed in places. A line of cumulonimbus far to the south piled on the intensity of the image.

Now, out in the dark of the early morning on the open lake, PRIDE II weaves her way eastward. The next watch change we will wear ship toward Whitefish Bay, leaving the open Lake behind us, likely for a couple of years. We have sailed much of it, often times puzzled and frustrated by the erratic weather. And like everyone who has ever sailed Superior should do, we will leave with sense of wonderment and a healthy respect for this mightiest of the Lakes.

All best,
Captain Jamie Trost and crew of PRIDE of BALTIMORE II