Following the tall ships
This is a big year, with festivals in Duluth, Chicago, Green Bay, Bay City and Sault Ste. Marie.
Norway's Sorlandet is coming to the Great Lakes for the first time since 1933.
On the Great Lakes, everyone loves to see a multi-masted schooner, white sails flapping in the breeze.
They're always the favorite guests at festivals, especially on Lake Superior, which usually sees only freighters.
On Lake Michigan, these magnificent replicas of 19th-century schooners and sloops are more common, offering tours and day sails from their homes when they're not appearing at festivals.
Most of the tall ships are non-profit and devoted to teaching early American history and training future sailors. Many offer
passage between ports as they sail to festivals.
Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City is home to four tall ships, two of them owned by the non-profit Maritime Heritage Alliance.
People are used to seeing them, says the alliance's Kelly Roberts-Curtis — although its sloop the Welcome always causes a stir.
"She looks like a pirate ship,'' she says. "The kids love her.''
The 55-foot Welcome, which carries four cannons, is a replica of a vessel that was built in 1774 by a merchant at Fort Michilimackinac, purchased by the British military in 1778 and lost in a 1781 storm.
Day sails and tours
MHA volunteers also sail the Madeline, a 92-foot twin-masted wooden replica of an 1840s commercial schooner. Both make frequent appearances at summer festivals.
The Madeline was built to be authentic to the era, so she doesn't meet Coast Guard requirements to sell tours or cruises.
However, if she happens to be in port and tourists call the Maritime
Heritage Alliance, says Roberts-Curtis, they may be invited to tour or even sail for free. The boats dock next to Elmwood
Township Park, on the west edge of Traverse City.
A sure thing in Traverse City, however, is the 114-foot Manitou, a replica of a 19th-century cargo schooner that offers public sails and also is a floating bed-and-breakfast. It's operated by the Traverse Tall Ship Co., which gives two-hour day sails and evening sails with picnic.
It also offers ice-cream, wine-tasting and entertainment cruises and four-day theme sails. Overnight guests pay $220-$250 per couple, including a full breakfast and the evening sail.
© Peggy Sue Zinn
The Welcome fires its cannons in Grand Traverse Bay.
Just up the bay in Suttons Bay, the Inland Seas Education Association includes the 31-foot sloop Liberty, a replica of a 1905 Maine fishing vessel, and the 77-foot schooner
Inland Seas, which offer public programs that include a birding
cruise to Gull Island June 2 and 3 and a maritime-history cruise June 26 and 28.
On Lake Superior, the Superior Odyssey Coaster II, a 58-foot
topsail schooner built in 1933, sails out of Marquette. It offers scheduled cruises as well as two-, four- or
eight-hour charter sails for groups of up to six.
The Coaster also offers overnight sails along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore east of Marquette.
Across the strait from Mackinac Island, the 65-foot two-masted schooner Appledore V give day and sunset sails from Mackinaw City.
On Lake Huron, the 85-foot, two-masted schooner Appledore IV, offers a variety of day and dinner sails from its base in Bay City on Saginaw Bay in Lower Michigan.
The two boats, owned and operated by the nonprofit BaySail, also offer overnight voyages that teach seamanship to youths.
It offers afternoon and sunset cruises from late May through September.
In Chicago, the 148-foot four-masted topsail schooner Windy offers six or more sailings a day with themes, including pirates, maritime history
Also in Chicago, the 77-foot two-masted topsail schooner Red Witch is moored in Burnham Harbor, near Soldier Field, and gives fireworks, cocktail and moonlight cruises.
In Milwaukee, the Denis Sullivan is part of Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin. It's a 137-foot replica of a three-masted 19th-century schooner, inspired by the Moonlight, a schooner that was known as the fastest on the Great Lakes between 1874 and 1885, when it was under command of Capt. Denis Sullivan.
© Discovery World
Milwaukee's Denis Sullivan is a frequent visitor at festivals on Lake Michigan.
Grandson Jere Sullivan sits on board of Pier Wisconsin, which built it for educational purposes.
Some tall ships make frequent appearances in the Great Lakes, including the 198-foot U.S. Brig Niagara of Erie, Pa., and 157-foot privateer Pride of Baltimore II, replicas of War of 1812 battleships; and the privateer Lynx, a replica of a Maryland schooner that fought on America's behalf in the War of 1812.
The 65-foot Niña, a replica of the Portuguese caravel that Columbus sailed to the New World, and its sister ship, the 85-foot Pinta, often make appearances in the Upper Midwest.
They're operated by the Columbus Foundation of the British Virgin Islands. Check their schedule for sailings to the Great Lakes. They also appear on the Mississippi River
and its larger tributaries.
Tall Ships Challenge 2013
It's a big year for tall ships, with the Tall Ships Challenge returning to the Great Lakes to commemorate War of 1812 maritime battles.
Each port has a different roster of visitors, so check local schedules.
From Bridgeport, Conn., comes the Unicorn, built in the Netherlands in 1947 out of scrap metal from German U-boats. It has an all-female crew and this summer is traveling with the teen-age daughters of deployed U.S. and Canadian military personnel.
New visitors include Norway's Sørlandet, which
served as the Norwegian pavilion at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair; the Brazilian-built Peacemaker from Savanna, Ga; and the schooner Halie & Matthew from St. Petersburg, Fla.
The 1925 wooden schooner Hindu from Key West will be offering day sails, along
with the Lynx, Denis Sullivan and Halie & Matthew.
The Appledore IV will give day sails in Bay City and Green Bay, the Windy in Green Bay and Chicago, and the Friends Good Will in Chicago.
© Torsten Muller
The Roseway heads out for a day sail during a tall-ship festival in Duluth.
Tickets for day sails are limited, so buy as early as possible. Even if they sell out, check back as additional
ship appearances are confirmed in each port.
Many of the tall ships offer passage between towns as they sail to festivals. Check each ship for sailing opportunities. Many berths are reserved for youths who want to learn to sail.
Festivities also include a Maritime Music Festival. Tickets go on
sale April 1.
July 21, Lake Superior Day in Thunder Bay, Ont. The Sørlandet will be in town
July 21-22 and will be open for public tours.
July 24-30, Tall Ships Duluth. Organizers in this Minnesota port city on Lake Superior say they're planning an even larger festival than the one in 2010, which featured nine ships.
Day sails are on the Lynx, the Hindu, the Denis Sullivan and the Halie & Matthew.
© Beth Gauper
In Chicago, the Windy heads back to Navy Pier after a day sail.
In addition to tours and day sails, there will be music, artisans and re-enactments. Tickets go on sale April 1, with more
day-sail tickets available April 20.
For help planning a trip, see Duluth 101.
Day sails will be on the Friends Good Will and the local schooners Windy and Red Witch.
The first day features a Parade of Sail. Festival-goers also will be able to watch match racing during the Chicago Match Cup, featuring 12 of the world's best sailing teams.
For help planning a trip, see our Chicago stories.
Day sails will be given on the Hindu, the Appledore IV and the Windy, and tickets are on sale March 5. Festival tickets go on sale June 3.
The Friends Good Will, a replica of an 1810 square-topsail sloop, sails out of South Haven, Mich.
Other maritime festivals
June 7-9, Pirate Festival in Port Washington, Wis. Ships give cruises from this Lake Michigan town, including the Saturday Pirate Invasion cruise, on which an ensemble of costumed re-enactor pirates will attack the town, and a Saturday-evening fireworks cruise.
The festival features pirate and weapons re-enactor groups and a parade at noon Sunday.
July, Inland Seas Summer Festival in Suttons Bay, Mich. Sail on the sloop Liberty during this music fest at the Inland Seas Education Center on Grand Traverse Bay.
The center's own 77-foot two-masted schooner Inland Seas is open for tours, and there will be music, displays and a sailboat race.
Aug. 23-25, Maritime Heritage Festival in Port Washington, Wis. Schooners will offer deck tours, harbor tours and day sails on Lake Michigan. There's also a cardboard boat regatta, artisan fair, concerts, children's activities and fireworks at this festival just north of Milwaukee.
Planning a Great Lakes trip
Be sure to catch a festival if you're planning a Circle Tour of Lake Michigan; for more, see Circling Lake Michigan.
For a Circle Tour of Lake Superior, see Circling Superior.
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