STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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Tall Ships are coming!
Commemorating Lafayette’s 1780 journey to pledge France’s support to a young America fighting to keep its independence is the 145-foot, three-masted, wooden frigate L’Hermione, a replica of the ship Lafayette sailed on. It’s part of a fleet of Tall Ships of different sizes and types scheduled to sail up the Delaware River into the Philadelphia area June 25-28 with Tall Ships America’s TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE, a tour that features port festivals celebrating maritime heritage and traditions, and this year a race from the Philadelphia/Camden, N.J. waterfront to Greenport, N.Y.
Among the majestic vessels — built in the style of centuries gone by — that you’ll have a chance to see, step aboard, and maybe even set sail on: A.J. Meerwald (USA), L’Amadeus (France), Bagheera (USA), Bowdoin (USA), Eagle (U.S. Coast Guard), Francis (USA), El Galeón Andalucía (Spain), Gazela Primeiro (Philadelphia’s official Tall Ship), Harvey Gamage (USA), Hindu (USA), Kalmar Nyckel (USA), Lady Maryland (USA), Lynx (USA), Oliver Hazard Perry (USA), Picton Castle (Cook Islands), Piscataqua (USA), Sagres II (Portugal), Serenity (USA), Tree of Life (USA) and Wendameen (USA).
A single-day On-Board Tour Pass is $12 and includes music from rock to jazz to sea shanties, big band, country and dance, plus educational and children’s activities including cannon demonstrations, a privateer encampment, sword fighting, knot tying, weapon demonstrations and sail training.
In addition to onboard tours, the Tall Ships’ Philadelphia/Camden stop will offer an opportunity to sail on the Delaware River aboard a few of the grand ships. Each vessel will sail several times daily. Cost for a Day Sail ticket is $85.
A Parade of Sail ticket offers the opportunity to sail along the Delaware River to the festival site aboard a Tall Ship for $150 as part of their grand entrance at the beginning of the event.
Multi-day On-Board Ship Tour Passes are $19 and provide four-day access to the festival grounds, on-board ship tours and activities at both Philadelphia’s Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing and the Camden Waterfront.
How do I get tickets and information?
Call (877) 4-FLY-TIX or go to www.tallshipsphiladelphia.com, where there’s a map of the festival area, details on parking and other informative and helpful stuff. Keep in mind your ticket does not guarantee access to all ships at all times.
When can I go?
Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 25 and 28, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 26-27.
What if it rains?
It takes place rain or shine; no ticket refunds or exchanges. Tickets are non-transferable.
There’s food, right?
Yes, and a craft beer garden, and local, regional and national crafters.
So what is Tall Ships America?
They’re a non-profit national membership organization focused on youth education, leadership development and the preservation of the maritime heritage of North America. The mission of Tall Ships America is to encourage “character building through sail training, promote sail training to the North American public and support education under sail.” Tall Ships America supports the people, ships and programs of sail training and tall ships through professional development grants, sail training scholarships, conferences, education, publications, regulatory and licensing information, public events and advocacy.
What’s sail training?
It includes instruction in all aspects of sailing, using the experience of being at sea “as a means to help people learn about themselves, discover hidden strengths and talents and understand the value of working as a team,” as well as fostering leadership qualities, a reverence for nature and an appreciation for history.