The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 6, 2000


Carlisle Comments: Tall Ships

How many of you went to see the Tall Ships in Boston this summer? Chances are good that most people anywhere near Boston at least heard of the Tall Ships. As usual, the COA was on top of all this and as early as February, one was able to sign up for a bus ride to Boston and a boat ride to see the Tall Ships. Yours truly was right up there near the head of the line.

There was no way on earth that my husband and I were going to take our 21-foot Catboat into a crowded harbor full of tour boats, sightseers, (many of whom have no idea of the rules of the road), power boats leaving huge wakes, and then try to spend the night bouncing around on a strange mooring or at anchor. Call us wimps if you wish, but the COA bus sounded wonderful to us.

We left early in the morning, three busloads in all. Into the fray we went, aboard a BIG bus, through the BIG Dig, into a BIG crowd around the LITTLE Boston streets. We were also very glad that we didn't try to drive and park too. Boy, was it ever hot that day! Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, it was terrific, and we had a really good time.

The Tall Ships came to town for a week's stay. Some were racing from England to Bermuda, and on to New York and Boston. There were 137 Tall Ships in all. They came from as far away as Japan, Russia, South America, Europe, and the United States, here, there, and everywhere. These ships would leave in a week's time to finish the race back to England. Other Tall Ships just seemed to gather at different planned locations and many of those continued on to Nova Scotia. It was a grand event.

The Tall Ships have been coming to Boston since 1976. Actually the tall ships started coming to Boston in the 1600s, but I am referring to recent times. We were in the Tall Ship Parade in 1980 aboard Jack Dustin's 25-foot Catboat Shoveler. Now that's the way to see the parade, because after your boat has sailed right up to the very end of Boston Harbor, you have no choice but to turn around and sail right back out again. By necessity, we had to sail close to, and past, all of the Tall Ships still entering the harbor. What a sight! We really had the best seat in the house.

Now back to the present, or at least the immediate past. Our bus brought us to World Trade Center where we boarded our tour boat. This tour boat, the Massachusetts, took us for a ride around every wharf in the harbor that had these beautiful Tall Ships in it. We were not bothered by wind or lack of wind, by strong tide or weak. We were not bounced around by big wakes from other boats, and most of the small boats just got out of our way no matter who had the right of way. We were to see all there was to see and took many pictures as well. We also had a wonderful view of the Boston skyline, Logan Airport, and the entire harbor.

When we were deposited again on the shore, we had several hours of free time before our buses were scheduled to return us to the safe and dry haven of Carlisle. We decided to walk down to the Black Falcon Pier where most of the larger ships were docked. It was very hot and of course crowded, that day. Still, it was worth the effort. Seeing all those ships up close and looking up into all that rigging gave you a feel for what the harbor must have looked like a hundred years ago. It was very impressive. I, for one, would not want to be climbing all that rigging in a storm with no safety equipment and no engine.

There was just one thing that puzzled me. With all the talk of this view of living history, the old ships, the age of sail and commerce, all this stepping back into the past routine, this is my question: why were the biggest crowds and the longest lines at the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy? Maybe I'm weird, but I went to the Tall Ships to see the Tall Ships, and it was worth the effort.

We made this trip on Thursday, July 13. Earlier in the week I was in Marblehead and from the land there, we could see the ships arriving in Boston. That gives you an idea of just how tall the Tall Ships really are. The race back to England began on Sunday, July 16. It was a rainy, foggy day, a terrible sailing day, just perfect for someone to visit the JFK.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito