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Tall Ships in Newport, RI

I stumbled across mention of a tall-ships gathering at Newport only a short time ago, and was kind of surprised that I hadn't seen more publicity about it in the Boston area. It didn't leave much time for planning, and in the end, katie_m and I were the only ones to venture down for the afternoon. Saturday was when you could see all the tall ships at dock, and go on them and stuff. Sunday was the parade of sail, which sounded like a nice idea, but I don't own binoculars, so, ehn.

Intelligently, we looked up some tourist information beforehand and found out that there were satellite parking lots set up, with shuttle buses running into downtown Newport. This turned out to be really key, because oh my god, was Newport crowded. Circling around trying to find any parking lot downtown that wasn't full, or places to street-park legally, if that's even possible, would have been DOOM.

First stop on our tour -- the Cisne Branco (White Swan), out of Brazil. It happened to be docked closest to the Visitors Center where the shuttle bus dropped us off. As you can see, this is one BIG full-rigged ship. We decided to go onto her, and the line moved pretty quickly, taking you up on the deck and snaking around from stern to foredeck and then off. Very pretty, clean ship. What we really, really wished was that they would have let us go below, because it looked like a really beautifully-appointed ship, as well. (It's quite new, having been launched in 1999.)

Here, I would like to insert this picture of a modern trimaran that was docked within sight of the Cisne Branco, because... my god, that's a big sailboat (in the "not actually a tall ship" category); I like how there's actually the little people in the rubber raft in the foreground, to give it scale.

Above are two pictures of the "Gloria", out of Colombia (which is a 3-masted barque). I kind of liked the fact that they had left the sails a little baggy; it gave her a nice silhouette. In these shots, you can also see the horrible, horrible crowds, and that was why we decided to skip going aboard the Gloria, which, with all due apologies to her and her crew, we had a feeling would not look dissimilar to the Cisne Branco. (We had also already eschewed going aboard the "Prince William" and the "Tarangini", for similar reasons.)

The Gloria's absolutely humongous Colombian ensign. There was definitely a competition amongst the various ships to see who could fly the most ridiculously large national flag. I think that Colombia might have been the winner, although it's hard to tell. Later, there will be a picture of a German ship which we only saw from far away, and at that distance, the flag looked almost life-sized -- which is clearly the PURPOSE of such a huge flag.

Above top: the "Mystic Whaler" (not to be confused with the "Mystic", which we'll see later). Above bottom: the "Pride of Baltimore II", whose stern I originally misread to say that she was out of New Zealand, which led to the puzzled consideration of why the hell a ship out of New Zealand would bear the name Baltimore at all. Both are class-B schooners. These are both sailing past the prow of the "Picton Castle", which we were looking at and deciding not to go onto, either.

What we did at that point was pay for a day-pass on the ferries, in order to go over to Fort Adams, where some more tall ships were docked and where there was supposed to be a craft village and stuff.

Fortunately, the ferry's path took us back along all of the other tall ships' berths, so that we got to see them from the water, which was infinitely preferable to trying to see them over people's heads, and buildings and cars and stuff, on land.

Here, then, is the Picton Castle, from the water -- another 3-masted barque, but for purposes of comparison, almost 80' shorter than the Gloria, above (or the Cisne Branco). It had had a paint-job recently, as the picture of it in the program was of an all-white ship. We really liked this sort of "retro" look for her.

Unobstructed view of the Gloria's butt... er, stern.

The "Prince William", out of Glasgow, a brig launched in 2001 -- which is actually named for the current Prince William, according to the guide. I like the way she's painted in that checkerboard pattern so distinctive of period British naval vessels, even though she's a civilian ship, and of course, those aren't cannon ports because she doesn't have cannon.

On the left, the "Tarangini", out of India, a three-masted barque; on the right, the "Spirit of Massachusetts", a two-masted gaff topsail schooner. We decided to give the Tarangini a miss, because it seemed unlikely to be that different from the Cisne Branco -- although after our later experience with the "Dewaruchi", now I'm wondering what we might have missed.

An extremely scenically-rusted regular Newport fishing boat; for variety, you know.

Above: at left, the Pride of Baltimore II; in the middle the Cisne Branco; at right, the Virginia, a little two-masted gaff topsail knockabout schooner. (Which we did go onto, right after we went onto the Cisne Branco.)

Below: nice side-on shots of the Cisne Branco at left and the Pride of Baltimore II at right.

At left, the "Tree of Life", a really nifty-looking two-masted gaff schooner. (You can just about see the little gold blob on the stern, which was a gilded oak tree underneath her name.) Apparently Newport is her home port.

And, from a distance, the "Gorch Fock II", a German three-masted barque that seems to have been the biggest ship at this gathering -- so big that her captain decided he didn't want to risk bringing her in to where she was supposed to be docked (over near the Cisne Branco). They seemed to have shuttles running out to a floating dock alongside her, but I wasn't ever sure where you were supposed to catch said shuttles. She looked mighty impressive in the distance, though. BIG SHIP. I've no idea what the name was of the schooner off to the right in this pic, although she was very pretty, zipping by at full sail.

Coming into dock at Fort Adams, this is the stern end of the "Dewaruchi" out of Indonesia, and just visible at right, the little "Providence".

After wandering the small craft fair next to the fort (where I picked up a cute, cheap little folk-art orca!), we decided that we'd had enough of a break from going on board tall ships, and for our last one to go onto the Dewaruchi. Over at Fort Adams, it was far less crowded, and there was pretty much no line to get onto her, unlike the situation over at the main docks downtown.

Well, basically, if you were going to pick one last ship to go onto, the Dewaruchi was an extremely rewarding choice. A barquetine launched in 1953, she seemed to have been built on the principle that by gods, if Indonesia was going to have a tall ship in its Navy, then it ought to LOOK like it came from Indonesia. The name "Dewaruchi" was translated variously as "God of the Human Spirit" and "god of truth and courage". Instead of having a figurehead under the bowsprit, they had it in front of the foreward mast, as you'll see in a moment.

It really was a shame that they were stuck all the way over at Fort Adams, because this crew pulled out ALL the stops. Not just helpful naval guys, but also a guy in traditional costume; they were selling cold drinks and beer; and they had the most extensive and interesting swag available for purchase. (All the ships had t-shirts and hats and stuff, of course.)

Cheerful, strapping young Indonesian naval crewman.

The figurehead of Dewaruchi, in front of the decoratively-capped foremast.

Random door to below-decks.

Unexplained welcoming shrine set up right where you came on board; you can see the differently decorated middle mast carving above it.

Cheerful, strapping young Indonesian naval crewman... dressed up as unidentified Indonesian mythical figure. We caught him on his smoke-break, actually, but when he saw that I wanted to take a picture, he helpfully put his lower-jaw back on.

Decorative carving on the mizzen-mast.

Next five -- insanely decoratively-carved wheelhouse, and behind that, the ship's name-plate.

So, yeah -- the Dewaruchi definitely WINS.

Almost finally... next to the Dewaruchi was berthed the "Providence" out of... well, Providence, RI.

I feel badly, actually, that I didn't get a better picture of her, because she was a cute little thing. A replica of one of the first ships of the American Navy, based on a merchant ship of the 1760s, a square topsail sloop (so, significantly smaller and more primitive in design than most of the other ships there). Just behind the cheerful guy in costume with the pike, you can see what is indeed a "Pirates of the Caribbean" poster -- which they turned out to have because, by golly, the ship was in POTC2 and POTC3. Apparently, they painted one side of her to look like a British navy ship, and the other side to look like a merchant ship, so she was in several scenes "playing" different background ships.

She was really cute to go on board, but again, I wish they had let us peek into the stern cabin.

Finally -- the "Friendship" out of Salem, MA -- a smaller version of a full-rigged ship, a replica based on a real East Indiaman merchant vessel from 1797. It might have been nice to go on her... but at that point, we were both dog-tired (after walking back and forth through crowds and in the sun for something like 4 and a half hours). And I figure, hey, she's local, maybe I can catch her some other time in Salem.

The Friendship's figurehead -- no, she isn't holding a snow-cone. It's a bouquet of posies. Of course.

On the way back...

Below is the "Arabella", and above... well, actually, I don't know *what* ship that is, above. My map says it ought to be either the "Bowdoin" or the "Mystic", but it's not either of those. (I'm not convinced that there *is* a "Mystic" apart from the earlier-seen "Mystic Whaler"; have to figure that out, too.) I have a shot of the ship from the stern at home, I'll have to check it out and see if I can see her name there.

At last, I leave you with the following humble Newport fishing vessel...

Which, as Katie remarked -- of all the ships you would not expect to see given the Tolkien-geeky name of "Shadowfax"...

So... Newport. It was cute. Hideously crowded, but cute. I'd like to go back when it isn't so mobbed. I'd also totally like to take the $50 helicopter tour of the mansions; just because, I'd like to go for a ride in a helicopter, and that seems not-unreasonable.

Mostly, what this day-trip inspired in me was a desire to find some tall-ships, or at least some semi-tall-ships, and go out for short sails on them. I really, really like being out on the water on a ship; even just on ferries, and how much cooler would it be on a wooden tall-ship?

There's a few places locally where this is possible. There's the schooner Appledore III, up in Rockport, MA. There's the schooner Liberty in Boston Harbor. There's the Friendship in Salem, MA; the Mystic Whaler in Mystic, CT; the Providence, in Providence; and the schooner Aurora on Newport's Goat Island (we saw it taking people out on tours of the tall-ships; I wish I'd known how you could have booked that). As far as I can tell, standard rates are about $30 for a two-hour sail, and many have various specials that cost various amounts more (such as a brunch sail on the Liberty, for like $50 including brunch).

I'm telling you -- at some point this summer or early fall, I'm definitely going to try that. Watch this space!


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 2nd, 2007 08:04 pm (UTC)
The ships are so neat! You know an amazing amount about them- I see a ship with masts but you see barques and schooners and all sorts of things I miss.

The only ships I've toured have been the Star of India and the Berkeley. I've been to the Star of India several times; they have a changing art exhibit in the cargo hold of the ship. One year it was pirate art, another year it was art depicting the opening of China for trade.
Jul. 2nd, 2007 08:11 pm (UTC)
AH HA HAH!!! Okay, I should perhaps edit this entry to note that the only reason I can tell all of the different tall-ship classes is because I bought a program that listed the ships there, and it tells you what each of them is, as well as provides a handy guide with illustrations as to what the characteristics are of the different types. :)

(I mean, I can tell a full square-rigged ship, that's pretty easy -- all its sails are, you know, square. And I know what a schooner is, and that it's different from a square-rigged ship. But that's it. While I knew of the terms before, I couldn't have told you what the hell the difference was between a barque and a barquetine.)
Jul. 2nd, 2007 08:24 pm (UTC)
Oooh that program sounds like a handy reference! Are the ships touring as a group? If they hit Seattle I might be tempted to go out and see them for myself.

I remember that story I illustrated for you- the one that took place on the ship- and figured maybe you had studied up on and them actually retained all the knowledge! (Unlike me, who forgets things a day later.)
Jul. 5th, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)
Yeah, tall-ship gatherings like this do seem to be periodic, planned "conventions" that only hit certain ports every so-many years. The last time we can remember a BIG gathering of tall ships in Boston has to be 10 or 12 years ago. ("Big" meaning more than 10, I guess.)

The program I picked up indicated that this current grouping was hopping up the east coast -- they'd started in either Savannah or Charleston, stopped in Baltimore I think, then hit Newport, and were going to end up in Maine somewhere. They weren't officially visiting Boston this time around -- although both before and after this weekend in Newport, some of them visited Boston individually. (When we were out on the Georges Island trip the weekend before, we saw the Cisne Branco at dock in Boston, and a couple of the smaller ones, which are local.)

So... I don't think they'll be going to the west coast. :( Not this grouping at this time, anyway. You should Google "tall ships" and "Seattle", though, and see what comes up. Because some of these ships were big enough that I'm sure they sail both coasts. And I'm sure that the west coast must have local tall ships that go up and down, seasonally. (I thought I recalled that the smaller ship in POTC1 was a real ship that sails up and down the west coast.)

I've definitely studied up on sailing ships from time to time... and sometimes I *do* retain bits of that knowledge. I've just always liked tall ships, too. But nowadays, my knowledge-retention is definitely getting less reliable!
Jul. 2nd, 2007 10:14 pm (UTC)
Oooh, did you see the Tall Ships were racing? Neat! And the photos of them under full sail are inspiring.
Jul. 5th, 2007 01:51 am (UTC)
Ahhh! COOL! No, I didn't know about that! :D I think those are all the same pics of them that are in the program I got, showing them under sail -- which is *so* cool-looking!

I really love that they were racing on each leg. That's such a cool idea.
Jul. 2nd, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
A lot of places in Boston have brunch cruises, and a lot are doing them this week for Harborfest. John and I are going on one of the turnaround cruises that follow the Constitution for her annual turn-around.


When I called for reservations, she said the Integrity was booked, but the Boston Belle was being used as an overlflow,with the same menu and all.


And I think it's way cooler looking, anyway! She's getting back to me re: reservations. If you go to the harborfest website, they list all the boat-related events for the week.


Jul. 2nd, 2007 09:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, that sounds like a fun day! Lovely pictures, too.

If I were there, I would totally go for a day sail with you.
Jul. 5th, 2007 01:51 am (UTC)
Dude! Some day you must come to Boston, clearly! During sailing season. ;-)
Jul. 2nd, 2007 10:11 pm (UTC)
wow! these are fabulous.

ps. jumping up and down and saying...ooh! great plan.
Jul. 3rd, 2007 02:00 am (UTC)
How sad is it that I've never seen the tall ships? And they aren't too far from me. Bad me.

Sadly, I don't think Newport is ever not crowded. But I've only been a couple of times. Again, bad me.

I'm still trying to get over to King Richard's Faire in the fall!
Jul. 5th, 2007 01:57 am (UTC)
I was saying to someone recently that I've been trying over the past few years to do things in the greater Boston and New England area that I sort of knew about but had never done before, even though I moved here 16 years ago.

I'd seen tall ships before, like the Constitution, and the last time a big grouping of them came to Boston... but it wasn't until last summer, when I went to Rockport *for the first time* (*headdesk*) that I saw the schooner Appledore II offered day-trips. I sure didn't know about the others in the area offering it until I started looking this year.

And I hadn't ever been to Newport at *all*. (I'm thinking it might be a little less crowded in fall... maybe...) I only went to Provincetown for the first time a couple of years ago. etc. I'm trying to make up for lost time! :)

I went to King Richard's Faire once, must have been at least 10 years ago. It was a lousy day for it, too, unfortunately. (Rainy.) It was okay, but... well, I've been a member of the SCA for, um, something like 20 years. I'm not saying that RenFaires are necessarily inferior, just that -- the SCA is a participatory experience that is different from that of a RenFaire, and if you're used to the SCA version, where you're an enactor, it can be hard being put in the role of audience-only at a RenFaire. (And while the SCA experience has many fantastical elements to it, RenFaires are *more* fantastical, which can be a difficult transition too.) I mean, it's hard, when you're a sword-fighter, to just watch more theatrical fights.

So for me, the Faire experience wasn't ideal, I guess. (Which is not to say that I don't think you may find it fun! Because I can see what the Faire appeal is to many people.)
Jul. 3rd, 2007 05:24 am (UTC)
Oooh, lovely! Especially the carving on the wheelhouse of the Dewaruci. I love that about a lot of old ships, that they're a working environment, but effort is made to make them aesthetically pleasing too. Although thinking about it - maybe that was a cynical attempt to take the crew's mind off just how awful some of them would have been to work on in their heyday...

They look so beautiful now though :-)
Jul. 5th, 2007 01:59 am (UTC)
Yeah, that's one of the thing I like the most about tall-ships, that they're beautiful as well as functional in a way that many modern ships aren't.

Although, it's also really interesting to me that so many of the ships in this grouping are quite modern, and yet, that aesthetic carries over.
Jul. 4th, 2007 03:13 am (UTC)
Eeeee, gorgeous pictures!!!

It's been brought to my attention that you'll be visiting my neck of the woods soon. Can you drop me an e-mail to tyellas at hotmail?
Jul. 5th, 2007 02:00 am (UTC)
Yup! Dropping you a line now!
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )