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I asked contributor Ida Becker to pen a blog about our two-hour tour of the harbor during Monday's Parade of Sail goodbye to the fleet of tall ships visiting during the Charleston HarborFest 2009.
The fleet of tall ships in port this past week for the maritime festivities cast a glorious shadow across the harbor, but the magnificent silhouette of Kruzenshtern—the world’s second largest sail training tall vessel, with four masts soaring up to 168 feet—towered over the Holy City’s skyline from its berth at the Port Authority. Sight of the ships dominated the waterfront, and a slate of nautical activities, including cannon demonstrations, concerts, wooden-boat building workshops, and pirate lingo lessons, lured crowds to the docks throughout the weekend.
On Monday afternoon, the mighty flotilla headed toward the jetties, and the harbor was a hive of activity as scores of small powerboats buzzed around the Parade of Sail, the festival’s finale. A few Charleston magazine colleagues (with their significant others in tow) and I enjoyed a birds-eye view of the departing vessels thanks to Matt Galvin with Coastal Yacht Charters, who hosted us on the 61-foot Viking sportfisherman Shark Byte. The vantage from the tuna tower (53 feet high) was spectacular and bested only by the perch enjoyed by the Romanian sailors aboard Mircea, who hung from the yardarms at a height of 137 feet.
A heat-induced haze hung lowacross the harbor, but the winds picked up—gusting more than 25 mph at times—by the time the first boat cleared Sullivan’s Island, where a large crowd had gathered on the beach in front of Fort Moultrie. Shortly thereafter, the sky darkened, a telltale sign that a summer popup thunderhead was on its way, so Captain Jeffrey Mitchell and mate Lee Grace steered a course back toward Ashley Marina. The downpour was fierce but fast, and it cleared out shortly after our arrival back at the dock.
The storm left a special treat in its wake—a rainbow; here’s hoping the tall ships look back upon their time in Charleston as a wonderful experience flush with hospitality and celebration.