• Mike

The Tall Ships celebration in Bay City, Michigan. (Part 2, The main event.)


The actual Tall Ships Celebration in Bay City kicked off on the July 20-21st weekend


Friday night was a great chance to get photos of the ships at night. A thunderstorm was churning over the bay allowed for a few shots with lightning in the background. Standing on one of the city bridges allowed for a shot like this. A problem however presented itself, one that I wasn't immediately aware of. Because the ships are still able to move around a bit, pitching and bumping along the dock with the waves and wind, they were blurry in longer exposures. There was no way to catch both the lightning and the ships clearly which was a bummer. Still, neat shot.



To enter the gates for the tall ships cost $10 per person for a wristband. However, for an additional $10, or $20 total, you could also get a "Passport." These passports allowed you to actually get on the ships and see them up close. Now, there are ships in two different parks on opposite sides of the river, so to see everything in a day took some doing. But it was well worth it.


Every ship had a stamp, and every time you got on a ship they would stamp your passport. This made it easy to keep track of what ships you still needed to visit to fill your passport with stamps. I filled mine, but it was a lot of work, it was also a lot of fun.



As we walked from ship to ship there were tons of interesting people and tents to see. Here you can see a tall man on stilts. He was playing with the kids and generally being a showman.


Lines to get on the NAO Santa Maria created close to a 4 hour wait. Eww! You can see why though from this picture. There were some very nice looking ships all along the water.



The local spiders were even helping with their own rigging.



Every ship we got on made the $10 money even more well spent. It wound up costing only about $1 per ship to visit them. The crowds on board were really enjoying their time on board.


Several of these ships posed serious challenges for moving around. What an experience to get to climb around inside them! Even though I was crawling along in the crouched position through here it was an awesome experience.


Look at how uncomfortable it must be to cook in the galley. Short people only?


Lots of kids were getting their first taste of the nautical world here. The crews were all so patient and answered all of our dumb and ignorant questions. I asked a few that must have made the crew think I was an idiot.


Seeing things like this, which I had only ever seen up close in movies was very interesting. I had seen cannons before, but not on a ship. They fire this cannon from time to time with blanks. One of my favorite scenes in cinema growing up was on the Disney version of Swiss Family Robinson. in which the family aims and fires the cannon from the wrecked ship. They have to drag the canon up using ropes to fire it. You can see here exactly what is going on with those ropes to hold the canon in place, along with an example of the different sized cannonballs.


Some of the ships were so popular that the crowds were shoulder to shoulder on board.


Everyone had worked so hard cleaning and polishing everything for this event. The wood on these ships were beautiful. So was all the brass and metal.



Seeing these ships one after the other from shore is good, seeing the angles of one ship from another is awesome.



Many photographers were here at this event, along with tons of people just wanting to get a picture of them or their family alongside one of these ships. This was a great event for any photographer. And when the crowds cleared in the evening, the opportunities only grew.


If you'd like to come see the tall ships in Bay City, then you can get the chance in 2022 when they come back.

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