Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007
It’s Tall Ship time. The Picton Castle came sliding in from Martinique to the sea-buoy and Pilot Station off Charleston right on time to fall in line with the other ships. We were all to make a grand entrance into Charleston Harbour; a parade of Tall Ships majestically making their way into this famous haven. Spectator boats, Coast Guard, tugs, pilot boats, yachts, Charleston to Bermuda racers, helicopters, bands and windsurfers in admiring attendance. It didn’t happen. There was a forest fire in Georgia making enough smoke to reduce visibility to less than ½ mile for hundreds of miles around and burning the eyes to boot. But we got in and alongside, and after clearing in with Customs & Immigration, and having our US Coast Guard inspection (flying colours), we opened the ship up to the public for this Maritime Festival and Tall Ship weekend.
The organizers were expecting 50,000 visitors; 80,000 showed up. So there we were: The Picton Castle, the Barque Taragini (the Indian Navy Sail Training Ship), The Brig Prince William (from England), and the Barque Gloria (the Columbian Naval Sail Training Ship) were all open to the public on the deep-water pier. The Schooners Pride Of Baltimore II, Virginia and the just-launched (and very beautiful) Spirit Of South Carolina were here, too, and showed us all what three magnificent schooners look like.
The gangways were put out, certain areas roped off, training and orientation done for our crew (and excellent volunteer docents) on safe open-ship operations, and a couple of drills, and we opened the ship to the crowds of keen visitors on the dock waiting to get aboard. The crew took turns manning the ship.
The liberty watch wandered the cobblestone streets of this fair “Low Country” southern city soaking up the rich atmosphere of history that permeates the senses hereabouts.
The buzz is in on the street (and wharf) that our ship is the “Pirate Master” ship. We figure that Picton Castle is the hands-down star of the show. The excitement is building! We can’t wait to see the show, on Thursday, May 31, at 8:00 PM (ET) on CBS; check it out!