This past Thursday we traveled over to Baltimore to visit the Tall Ships participating in Maryland’s Star-Spangled Sailabration, which continues through this coming Tuesday. The Sailabration is simply Maryland’s rebranding of OpSail 2012, which is scheduled to next arrive in Boston (6/30-7/5) and then New London (7/6-7/8).
We arrived bright and early, around 8:20 AM and were able to find convenient parking close by. The crowds hadn’t yet begun to build and we were able to board a couple of them before the official opening time of 10:00 AM. The day was absolutely perfect — not too hot, not too cold, nice clouds in the sky to provide visual interest and keep the sun in check, not too many people — just perfect.
Even a number of larger domestic and foreign naval vessels (Gray Ships) were on hand and could be toured, though I have to say the level of security around them had to be seen to be believed. For the closest American Navy ships, not only were they isolated from the rest of the participants but they had a defense perimeter of security fencing, heavily armed guards (some with dogs), metal detectors, screening stations and mobile water security details. Really eye-opening.
I was close to boarding the patrol boats when I got a text from Cindy — “Coasties just put on pfds“. That was all I needed to start hustling back to where the US Coast Guard Cutter Eagle was supposed to be berthed and just in time — as she slowly rounded the point shortly after I got into position. We didn’t learn why she arrived after all of the other ships, but seeing her arrive was the crowning glory of the day for me. After all the attempts I’d made for several decades to see her in the flesh, it was fitting that I get to experience this. Watching was over-the-top spectacular for me and induced lots of chill bumps.
The only Tall Ship I missed this time around (I was here in Baltimore with my Dad for OpSail 1976) was the Italian training ship, Amerigo Vespucci. Oh, and I had hoped that the USS Constitution would be given the green light to participate in OpSail 2012 as well, but I expect she is too fragile for such a lengthy cruise.
At this point I’ll cease the narrative and just leave you with the moments — in the same sequence as we experienced them — that I captured during our tour of the Star-Spangled Sailabration…