Tall Ships Festival in the Great Lakes

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Things to do


Date of travel

August, 2019

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Travelled with

Adult family

Reasons for trip

Last fall I was able to check out the “Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes 2019”:https://tallshipsnetwork.com/series/tall-ships-challenge-great-lakes-2019/ organized by Tall Ships America when some of the ships were in Sarnia, Ontario. The ships were on a tour around the Great Lakes making stops in Canada and the USA between June 29 and September 21: Toronto, Ontario; Cleveland, Ohio; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Sarnia, Ontario; Erie, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, New York; Bay City, Michigan; Kenosha, Wisconsin; Kingsville, Ontario; and Brockville, Ontario.

The ships that stopped in Sarnia were the Fair Jeanne (a Class B Brigantine), the Picton Castle (a Class A Barque), the Appledore IV (a Class B Gaff Schooner), the Nao Santa Maria (a Class A Square sail vessel); the Empire Sandy (a Class A Rig Gaff Schooner 3) and the Bluenose II (a Class A Rig Schooner Gaff-Rig). They were moored at Centennial Park on the St. Clair River and we arrived in time to see the Bluenose II sail under the Bluewater Bridge as it finished a tour around Lake Huron with some lucky passengers. Unfortunately they were unable to put up the sails – the channel is too narrow for the ship to navigate with sails in that wind and very strong currents. However it was still quite the sight on such a sunny day! The cannons were fired before the ship sailed under the bridge. The original Bluenose is on the back of the Canadian Dime – ten cent coin.

In addition to some cruises, daily and weekend tickets were available for purchase to go on board and check out the ships and cheaper tickets to wander around the festival area. Or you could stroll along the waterfront outside the festival area for free as we did and watch the ships go by.

This is an annual event so if you’re planning on being in any of these areas in the summer, keep this event in mind. I don’t know if the 2020 event will go ahead given the current state of affairs in the world right now but there’s always 2021…

Denise Bridge

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