Tall Ships and Pirates

Well then, what’s a better way to spend a near 100 degree day than to sit indoors in the air conditioning and write?

Going back to the weekend though, I wanted to at least post something – as short or long as this particular post may end up being – of the Tall Ships festival that just recently rolled through my home port of Bay City, MI.

Once again, probably not what your average 23 year old girl is interested in, but what can I say, I’ve always thought ships were neat, especially after getting into the whole frenzy of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  Which, by the way, to this day is still one of my favorite movies.

Now, the Tall Ships actually come here about every three years but I have to admit that I think this is the first time that I’ve actually made it a point to get really interested in it and had a ton of fun, even if I didn’t get to see everything. Kind of sad, seeing as they were here for four days.

We started out on Thursday heading out to the mouth of the bay to watch the boats come in. There were supposed to be 12 in all but one never made it. I think out of everything, this is actually one of my favorite parts of the ships being here. For one, it’s free to watch them sail in, and this is the only time you get to see most of them with full sails, which in my own opinion is when they look the coolest. Thursday night, I went on a couple hour cruise on the Princess Wenona here which took us past the docked ships and out into the bay. That was fun, being able to see the ships from a different view than what you’re given at the actual festival.

Friday and Saturday were busy, so it wasn’t until Sunday that we went back, and it was HOT, but fortunately not as hot as it is today. This is the day that we actually paid to get into the festival and though we sadly only got to see four of the ships close up – the other five were on the other side of the river – it was still fun. I took a ton of pictures not just of the boats but of anchors, masts and rigging, and more. I just think it’s a really neat opportunity to be able to get that close to something that you rarely ever think about. Even watching all these pirate movies, you look at the boats and think to yourself “yeah, that would be cool to be a pirate and climb the rigging.” Then you get up close to these ships and realize just how high that really is. The Sorlandet out of Norway was the biggest ship, at a length of 210 feet and I think it was around 245 feet tall. Now, as much as I love pirates and the idea of being a part of the crew like that, I’m terrified of heights, so I can’t imagine being up that high. However, there were a few of the smaller ships where, for about $400 you could be a part of the crew for a day or two as they moved to the next port. Who knows, when 2016 rolls around, maybe I’ll just go crazy and decide to do that. As scary and out of my element as that would certainly be, I still think it would be fun and such an interesting opportunity. As it is, one of the ships, the Appledore is actually from here and they have numerous opportunities for dinner sails and my family have decided to take part in one of those. So far, it appears that we’re actually going to be going on a Stargazer sail that includes dinner and they take you out at night and teach you to navigate by the stars. I can’t wait for that, and what’s more, I consider it to be book research. The thing about writing for so long is that you find yourself going through life taking even the most mundane of daily things and asking yourself how it could relate to your writing or how your characters would react to certain situations. It just so happens that the beginning of my second book focuses on my characters being on a small ship heading to a different continent, so I can definitely pull from that experience and use it to help make my writing more realistic. The best thing about being a fantasy writer is that you have more liberty to completely make things up, but some things just don’t compare. It’s a little difficult to describe the feeling of standing on the bow of a ship in the middle of a calm, moon-filled night when you’ve never had an experience even remotely similar prior.

Now, since this post is getting long, I will save the events of the Pirate Cove and related activities they had set up, for another day.

All in all, despite it being terribly hot and missing half the experience of getting up close with the ships, it was still fun. It was sad to see them go – though I was lucky enough to actually catch the Lynx – the last ship to leave – in a few photographs as it was passing through the bridge. Can’t wait for them to come around again, and maybe next time will be the time I finally buck up and pay the extra $10 to actually board each ship and get a tour of the deck. And on a final note, I will admit that I actually did get to see all of them up close. I just walked along the other side of the river and got to see the five docked there during one of the nights when the park was open for free. My camera is just horrible with low light situations so I didn’t get any good close up pictures.

IMG_8440-2 The Flagship Niagara

IMG_8471-2Pride of Baltimore II, shooting off cannons as it was sailing in.

IMG_8571The Sorlandet was the largest ship, and had some really pretty woodwork on the front.

IMG_8583 The Peacemaker had some of the most beautiful woodwork, and even stained glass windows in the cabin

.IMG_9021 The Lynx as it was leaving.

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