That’s absolutely OK because the first time I was there, last summer, I fell in love.
In love with the lush live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, the lovely, beautifully landscaped squares – each of which is completely unique – the ballast stones of River Street, the mouth-watering fresh seafood in all the restaurants – it’s truly a passionate love affair.
The Tall Ships Challenge “is a series of sailing races, cruises, crew rallies and maritime festivals organized by Tall Ships America in conjunction with US and Canadian ports on the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts of North America and in the Great Lakes. Traditionally-rigged sailing vessels from Canada, the US and other countries are crewed by youth (either civilians or cadets) ages 13 – 25 who are engaged in sail training programs under the supervision of captains and professional crewmembers. Maritime festivals in each host port give visitors a chance to board the tall ships and meet the crew and trainees and learn about the many varied opportunities to sail and travel on Tall Ships America member tall ships.”
Not only was the event completely fabulous in every way, we were officially part of the media. I have been part of the media before and have been recognized and introduced as a travel writer but you all.
We had media passes to wear.
We stayed with the other journalists at the River Street Inn which is absolutely one of the nicest hotels we have ever stayed in and I’m going to tell you all about in great detail in another post. It is a wonderful, historic inn, actually on the Register of Historic Places, located right on Bay Street and backing up to River Street so it was the perfect location for the Tall Ships Challenge.
We checked into our room and immediately went to the window, which looked out over the river and the tall ships moored right on the street, their masts and sails soaring up into the bright blue sky. It was a truly incredible sight.
We couldn’t wait to get outside and see everything, so we headed out the back door of the Inn and immediately ran into some rather interesting fellows.
The entire city of Savannah really got into the whole Tall Ships Challenge and there were lots of people in costumes up and down River Street. There were lots of different ships involved in the event and each was unique. Because of our media passes, we were able to board any of the ships and tour around, which was really fascinating. It was hard to imagine that the crew lives onboard the ships for weeks at a time.
Many of the ships had displays of items on sale, some of which the crew had obviously made themselves. Long days at sea = looking for things to do, I assume.
It was fun to see a little tugboat that we had last seen in the harbor in Halifax. Quite a trip for a little tug!
One of the favorites of the crowds massed on River Street was the Indonesian ship called the Dewaruci. The crew was in full uniform, they had a lively band and they regularly had rollicking parades up and down River Street. When they pulled into port on the first day and when they left port on the last day for the Parade of Sails, the sailors were perched on the masts, singing and dancing along with the music. It was quite a sight.
We were really fortunate as members of the press to be invited to sail on one of the ships. When they asked for volunteers to help raise and lower the sails, of course you know that was a perfect photo op!
One evening we were invited to a reception to meet some of the captains of the ships. The Dewaruci was docked across the river with its lights coming on as dusk approached.
It was a wonderful experience – great food and the most incredible sunset you have ever seen.
The few days we spent in Savannah for the Tall Ships Challenge were an absolutely wonderful experience. We were wined and dined (yes, I’ll tell you about all the restaurants soon), toured the beautiful city, trekked over to Tybee Island and really enjoyed experiencing all the incredible Tall Ships. On the last morning, we got up early and headed outside to watch and take pictures of the Parade of Sails. The sky was filled with dark gray clouds, obviously stuffed full of rain but there were still hundreds of people on hand for the event. The ships sailed back the river to the bridge and got ready to sail out to sea.
It was a beautiful sight, the sky filled with the masts of the tall ships and the sails whipping in the wind. Just about that time, the skies opened up and absolutely drenched the crowd. The rain was so hard and fast that River Street was ankle-deep in water. We took refuge under an awning and Tom attempted to get some photos, but most show the ships through a rain-speckled camera lens.
One day of rain couldn’t ruin the incredible and unique experience we had. The Tall Ships Challenge of 2013 is going to be on the Great Lakes. I’m on the mailing list, so we may be headed that way next year.
What about you?
Full disclosure: Our visit to Savannah was provided by the Savannah CVB but as always, I will share my honest opinion about any travel experiences I have.Pin It