Tall Ships - Bay City, MI - 2016

Updated: 02/21/18


We saw the Tall Ships in Bay City, MI  in July, 2016. A tall ship is exactly what it sounds like - a sailing vessel with tall masts. Many of the ships were in the Great Lakes for the Tall Ships Challenge, organized by Tall Ships America.


 THURSDAY              Watching the tall ships arrive . . .

FRIDAY                    At Veterans Memorial Park for our ride on the Appledore IV . . .

SATURDAY             Visiting Wenonah Park for a close-up view of the ships on display and our water tour of the event on the the Islander tour boat . . .





Wednesday we drove around the areas on both sides of the Saginaw River looking for a viewing location for the arriving Tall Ships. We found Golson Park on the correct (sun at our back) side of the river and not far from our campground.

The Tall Ships were scheduled to start arriving Thursday about 1:00pm.

We set our alarm to get to the location prior to it becoming crowded. We arrived at 9:00am. We were the first  people there. We were the only people there for three hours. Yep, we were there in plenty of time.







This group had a nice location - flat and in the shade. While they were looking at the port side and stern of the tall ships as they 'arrived', we decided that viewing the bow or stern did not make much difference. The masts and rigging were the most important.

We were a little disappointed that none of the ships came into the river "under sail" - apparently, it is too difficult to control the ships "under sail" in a river.





Golson Park was across the river from Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum where the USS Edison is moored.












Fortunately, the loading at the gravel depot across the river and small boat traffic on the river provided entertainment.


The front loader serviced everything from pickup trucks to gravel trains.






What a huge mound of stone . . .



Oh, and an occasional train passed through . . .









Every law enforcement agency had a presence on the river for this event. They provided protection while the tall ships navigated the river and patrolled where they were moored all weekend.






The two commercial Appledore tall ships passed our location several times as we waited for the other tall ships. (We have tickets on the Appledore IV Friday morning.)






The bridge had to open each time a tall ship passed.



Part way through the morning, Golson Park was getting busier. And, across the river, what we think were employees, family and friends of the gravel depot owners started arriving.








Water canons announced the arrival of each tall ship.

Here comes the first tall ship.

This is our first glimpse of a tall ship from the Tall Ships Challenge.

The, Denis Sullivan, a 3-masted Schooner . . . 



 Coming through the raised highway bridge . . .





And then, the second tall ship.

The Playfair, a Brigantine . . .





Now, they are arriving three at a time . . .




The Madeline - a Great Lakes Schooner




The Pathfinder - a Brigantine





The Mist of Avalon  - a Gaff Topsail Schooner





 The When & If - General George S. Patton's wooden schooner                    




The Pride of Baltimore - a Topsail Schooner



After this tall ship, there was a LONG period of time with no ships arriving. The event Web site was not being updated. Rumors were being passed among the crowd regarding when the next tall ship would arrive. Fred asked a police officer cruising through the park's parking area if he knew anything - he knew nothing.

People stated drifting away. Finally, word arrived that the remaining tall ships would not arrive until after dark. One tall ship had engine problems and others were staying with the disabled ship.


It was an enjoyable day ... but ... a long day.


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FRIDAY . . .


Today we drove to Bay City to take a ride on the Appledore IV. A tall ship that takes people on a motor powered ride on the Saginaw River. When it reaches Saginaw Bay, the sails are raised for a ride on the open water.


The Appledore V  followed us away from the dock.











This crew member was very talkative
as we motored on the river.




Yesterday's viewing location from the Appledore IV .










USS Edison is a Vietnam Era, Forest Sherman Class destroyer. It is one of two left in the United States. The ship was decommissioned in 1988. Guided tours, many by retired Navy personnel, are available daily.






Railroad bridge rotated for each ship to pass.




Still being followed . . .




A plant beside the river manufactured parts for wind turbines - blades, housings and hubs lined the shore.






   Saginaw River Rear Range Light








Open bay ahead . . . Sails going up.




They encouraged passengers to participate with the raising and lowering of the sails.






Open bay . . . full sails . . . Great fun!




The Appledore V beside us - with full sails.







Our galley . . .




Sails coming down . . . at the mouth of the river.


Passengers manned the ropes - the crew stacked the sails.





Waiting for the train to pass on the railroad bridge . . .


Train bridge turned . . .



Thanks to some HEAVY gears, wheels and a bridge operator.





We are motoring back to the dock used by the two Appledores.


Our route takes us by our viewing location across from the stone mound ahead and where the other tall ships are moored.



The entire river had a heavy law enforcement presence to protect the tall ships.



Tomorrow we will visit Wenonah Park where the Tall Ship tours and events will be held.


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Wenonah Park was the epicenter of events on the downtown side of the river. People were lined up to tour the ships.


The crowd was large as expected. Some of the people dressed in costume.







Mary Lou is very prepared when we go to events - she does her homework. And, she shares her information with others when asked.


Because we had spent two days in Mystic, Connecticut a few years ago, we decided we did not want to stand in a line to tour another ship.


So, we walked the grounds and boardwalk, purchased lunch and enjoyed the people watching.









Dolphin figurehead . . .



    Event volunteers wore red shirts.






El Galeon Andalucia, Spanish Galleon

This was the ship 'everyone' wanted to board. The people at the end of the line told us they were just informed that the line was three hours long. Because the ship closed at 6:00pm, they may not get on board in time.









Some jobs are more for crows than people . . .

The Bounty - a replica of the 180 foot, 18th century three-mast ship . . .



There was a line at each ship - some longer than others.




A parking lot across the river was being used as a campground.




This camper was parked in the lot near our sightseeing boat's dock.






Events were occurring and tall ships were moored on both sides of of the river.


Today we parked in a lot located on the same side of the river as Wenonah Park and took a shuttle to the park entrance. We did not cross the river today.

People who parked on the both sides of the river had difficulty taking a shuttle buses across the bridge. The shuttle buses were backed up because the gates being down stopped vehicle traffic but the pedestrians on the bridge ignored the gates. Thus, the bridge operator could not open the bridge for boat traffic efficiently. The shuttle bus schedule was a mess. Only the buses on our side of the river were moving. Fortunately, we got to our truck and headed home easily.  






The Islander - this is the narrated tour boat we rode up and down a portion of the Saginaw River looking at the Tall Ships from the river. We got great views of the tall ships on both side of the river and information on each ship from the narrator.


The Islander . . .




Ships moored at the Wenonah Park side of river . . . 


                                    Pride of Baltimore II                  When & If               Mist of Avalon




  And, the Denis Sullivan




Ships moored at Veteran's Memorial Park side of river . . .

   Playfair       Pathfinder       Madeline      Draken Harald Harfagre

(See type of ship listed on photographs below.)



                  Playfair - a Brigantine                          Pathfinder - a Brigantine                   Madeline - a Great Lakes Schooner         




Draken Harald Harfarge, a Viking Longship . . .

Note: The red tent wasn't park of the ship.
It was the location of music, refreshment and celebration.





The Draken has a traditional dragon's head and tail and is richly ornamented with patterns found in excavations. The dragon's head protects the ship and her crew along the voyage, and is not mounted until departure from homeport.


Dragon Head . . .                                  Dragon Tail . . .










Pleasure boats cruised along the docked tall ships ... closely watched by the various law enforcement agencies which included the Coast Guard.



And, the Coast Guard Auxiliary . . .





     A replica of a dug out canoe paddled past the Tall Ships.



It should be mentioned that many of the Tall Ships are Sail Training Vessels. Their programs provided peer-to-peer challenging programs aboard the tall ships. The focus is on safety and the creation of positive and memorable experiences for trainees and an appreciation of the rich marine heritage of the Great Lakes.


One of our camping groups was going to Green Bay, Wisconsin to see the Tall Ships. We decided that going to Bay City, 75 miles from home, made more sense. We were happy we did, some of the ships, for various reasons, didn't make it to Green Bay.


If the Tall Ships sail into a port near you, it is well worth your time to go and see them.



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