Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tales of the Tall Ships

(The Bounty)

This weekend the Tall Ships tackled the Erie docks for a spectacular festival showcasing these marvelous sailing vessels.

There were six ships here all weekend: The Bounty, the Niagara, the Lynx, the Roald Admundson, the Unicorn, and the Pride of Baltimore II.

We spent a delightful day on Dobbins Landing, soaking in the history and romance of these impressive ships.

My personal favorite was the Bounty, a ship built as a replica of the original Bounty in 1960 for the Marlon Brando film "Mutiny on the Bounty." This ship has also made appearances in other films, including the recent "Pirates of the Carribean" films.

This ship simply oozed romance, power, and history. Belowdecks, the woodwork gleamed. The red leather in the captain's office glowed. And we got a real glimpse of the life the sailors led as they took these ships into unknown and often dangerous territory.

(the rigging of the Bounty)

The rigging and flags on the Bounty took my breath away.

We also were able to board the Niagara, whose home base is Erie. This is a replica of the ship from the War of 1812, the flagship of Oliver Hazard Perry. It is also an awesome vessel.

(the Flagship Niagara)

Belowdecks, one has to duck in order to move through the cramped quarters. (and if I have to duck, as I stand at only 5'1" tall, you know that the ceilings are indeed low!). Aboard the Niagara, the cook was in the process of preparing lunch for the crew, in the tiny galley, and let me tell you, lunch sure smelled good!

(flag on the rigging of the Niagara)

The third vessel that we had time to tour was the Lynx, a much smaller ship that the Bounty and Niagara. Based out of Newport Beach, CA, the Lynx is an interpretation of a naval schooner, approximating the original Lynx built in 1812, which was among the first ships to defend recently won American freedom by evading the British aval fleet that blockaded U.S. ports.

(the rigging of the Lynx and the Niagara, Lynx in foreground)

The Lynx, though small, was also impressive, as we were informed that she can travel up to 12 knots under sail. A beautiful ship, indeed.

(view through the gunwhale of the Lynx)

We also took the opportunity to go to the top of the Tower on Dobbins Landing, to take advantage of the spectacular panoramic view of the ships from above.

(the view from the tower, Niagara on the left, Unicorn top right and Roald Admundsen lower right).

The weather was a perfect Fall day, with plenty of sunshine, a gentle breeze, and temperatures hovering right around 70 degrees. I could not have asked for a better overall experience, as I let go of everything but the sensation of the sailing ships around me.

And it reminded me, again, of the significance of hands on education, and the importance of seeing "how it really was."

All in all, the Tall Ships Festival in Erie rates a huge FIVE STARS out of FIVE. I hope they repeat the experience many times.

(powder barrel aboard the Bounty)

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