Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006
Green Bay is more proud of their football team than any other city could be proud of their local sports team. So proud, in fact, that the Captains’ Breakfast (a big event where the captains of all the tall ships in the festival meet) was held at Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. I don’t know how many tall ship captains are also football fans, but it seemed to work. And a city that loves its NFL entry also loves their tall ships.
Picton Castle arrived in Green Bay on Thursday, July 27, to participate in a Parade of Sail, beginning in the bay and heading up the Fox River to where the ships were berthed. We sailed past areas that looked mostly industrial, and came alongside our berth in Leicht Park just past several giant piles of gravel and a large ship unloading area. The park itself was quite nice and apparently quite new. Green Bay has done a lot in recent years to try and bring some life back to their waterfront, including building three parks on both sides of the river where all the tall ships were berthed. Bringing the tall ships to Green Bay has helped the city attract people to its waterfront.
We had to do some carpentry work in Green Bay to get people on board. The dock was nearly level with the top of the t’gallant rail and our regular gangway would not have worked. We added a wooden step from the dock down onto the ship and that seemed to solve the problem. Through the course of the festival we found that the level of the river rises and falls about a foot, but our design continued to work. We welcomed thousands of people aboard for deck tours during regular opening hours, as well as during two evening receptions. Many of our young guests, as you can see in the photos, were sporting balloon fashions as there were an army of clowns around the festival working their balloon creation magic. People in Green Bay were very friendly and welcoming, especially as this is their first time hosting the ASTA Tall Ships Challenge.
Jay Szymanski, a trainee on the Picton Castle, sailed with us from Bay City into his home port of Green Bay, and we couldn’t ask for a guy with better local knowledge. Jay was the best guide to Green Bay we could have asked for, taking people to the airport and bus station, booking Judy a hair appointment with a hair stylist friend, taking David to the farmer’s market very early Saturday morning, welcoming off-duty crew to his house, and running random errands on our behalf. We were also welcomed in Green Bay by a familiar face from Cleveland—Roberta Kacenjar, ship’s liaison extraordinaire. She did such a fantastic job in Cleveland that they invited her to Green Bay to help coordinate the volunteer ship liaisons there. We had several liaisons for the Picton Castle—apparently more than 70 people from the Green Bay area volunteered for the job and they couldn’t turn anyone away, so they split the job among many. We were lucky to have a great crew, including Robin, Helen, Vanessa, Paul, Jeff, and a few others.
Weather was a popular topic of conversation in Green Bay, where it was sweltering hot all weekend. Even those of us who have spent the past year in the tropics found it oppressively hot. The temperature rose up over 90 degrees Fahrenheit each day we were there, and it was quite humid. We give a lot of credit to the crowds who came out to see the ships in the heat, in a park with precious little shade. We had another extreme of weather on Sunday morning as a big thunderstorm came through around 0700. The wind was strong enough to push the ship out from the dock a foot or two and blow to pieces many of the tents and awnings ashore. All hands responded quickly and closed hatches, took in our awnings on board, put out additional dock lines, and secured flag halyards. After the worst of it had passed, we waded into the now-mucky field to claim the scattered pieces of our merchandise tent and put it back together (including straightening out some bent poles and applying an ample amount of duct tape). We got the gangway and steps secured again, and offered some extra assistance to vendors in the park whose tents and umbrellas had tumbled away in the storm.
We left Green Bay on Tuesday August 1, heading towards Sturgeon Bay to take the shortcut into Lake Michigan and on to Chicago. Just now we’re sailing along in the lake, about 60 miles from Chicago. This short one-week leg from Green Bay to Chicago has been our most popular so far this summer, and we have a full ship. Our 25 new trainees who joined us in Green Bay are all adjusting well to life on board, whether they are giving deck tours in port or walking around a rolling ship out in the lake. They experienced ship handling in close quarters as we passed through the canal in Sturgeon Bay, helped to set all sail this morning as we finally turned off the main engine, and then took in some sails quickly as a thunderstorm approached just before dinner. This short week will give them a taste of life on the Picton Castle, and because they’re a fun bunch we hope they’ll come back for more!