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Like A Mirage From The Past, Tall Ships Sail Into Bay City's Port

July 14, 2016       Leave a Comment
By: Stephen Kent

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On a beautiful July day, with puffy white clouds and a brisk breeze across the Saginaw River, the Tall Ship Celebration 2016 kicked off as a dozen majestic ships came down the Saginaw Bay and the river into port at Bay City.

Since the first Celebration in 2003, the ships have become one of the highlights of the summer every three years or so. It's quite an undertaking for local volunteers and Bay Sail, the local sponsoring organization. Hundreds of people are involved in pulling it off. But Bay City always seems to be one of the favorite ports the ships visit.

Today, Thursday, July 14, saw the ships arrive starting around 2:00 in the afternoon. After the first seven were in port there was a delay of a few hours for the final group to arrive. The most anticipated ship, the world largest Viking Long Ship Draken was the last to arrive. The ship had sailed all the way from Norway when, at the last minute, unexpected "pilot" fees were imposed and almost blew the budget. But the difficulties were worked out and passage was secured. The Draken is in port now!

The Tall Ship Celebration 2016 has every indication of being one of the best visits ever. Besides the ships there are dozens of events, music, food, and shows. Don't miss this rare event on Bay City's historic waterfront!


Head and shoulders above the rest, juggler on stilts entertains first day visitors.

Artist Louis Lee takes advantage of the subject and the light

Even on the first day, when boats were still setting up, the crowds were on hand and lining the rails.

Bay City's "curb side" experience is hard to beat for ships and spectators alike.

Ropes and flags

Bay City's own Appledore leaves with a load of passengers to get the water-side view.

EMT-Paramedics Levi and Tony from McLaren Bay Region take it easy, but they're on hand for any emergency with their ambulance just a short distance away.

Denise Davidson knows just about anything you might be curious about. She worked last year and was looking forward to the crowds for the weekend.

"Sir, Excuse me Sir..." I heard Security Guard Jeanne Ross behind me. Friendly and courteous, she just wanted to check my media pass as I just boldly walked through the gate.

One of the best parts of Tall Ship Celebration is the opportunity to get up close and personal to take all the pictures you want.

Aaron Christenson, Dave Ferrio, Ralph Burleson and Dean Richards build custom boatside steps. "You can't do it ahead of time", said Dave, "We don't know what we'll need until the boats are here". When I asked Deb Pyscher (not shown) how they got into this job she laughed and said "my neignbor roped us into it". But it was easy to tell that none of it was real work for the construction crew. They were having a great time "making things work".

On board the Denis Sullivan, Mate Katherine Pogue and deckhand Amy Wilke take a little downtime before the main crowd shows up for the next three days. Katherine is on her 3rd season and Amy her second. This is the first time in Bay City for both and they were looking forward to the visit.

Wood, rope and sail. Just a few of the beautiful features of Tall Ships.

Man with a mission... Mike Bacigalupo is always on hand when anything is happening on the riverfront, at the State Theatre, even at the Temple Theatre in Saginaw. As Bay City's "Special Event Coordinator", he's Mr. FixIt for anything that happens. At the moment he was off to get the city to turn on the water for a few of the ships at the end of the line.

Maria Bukli is on her first voyage as crew of the Mist of Avalon. In fact she just started at the beginning of the month. But it's not her first time sailing; she's been to the Caribbean and on other trips with family. She's even been to Bay City before.

Getting the flag to the very top of the mast is not always as easy as it looks. Just ask Jenny Coicos, who was working a banner up on the When and If.

The red one is what Jenny was maneuvering to the top in a rather brisk breeze.

Captian Seth Salzmann told a little about the When and If. The boat was designed and built for General George Patton, who sailed it in the States. Patton's goal was to sail it around the world. Capt. Seth leased the boat in 2012 and has basically lived on it every since. (He did take 17 days off some 13 months ago, he said.) Seth's goal is to eventually buy the boat and make that around the world trip that it was designed for.

Parting shot... Do you think a couple of strong guys could get some oars and tow the Pride of Baltimore? Makes you wonder.







5087, 7775, 7776

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Stephen Kent

Steve Kent and his family have lived in Bay City for 40 years. He is VP of Technical Services at MMCC which produces MyBayCity.Com. Kent is active in many Bay City civic organizations.

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