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Tall Ships Challenge 2012, Savannah, Georgia

Posted by on July 13, 2012

I had never been to Savannah before this year and now I have been there three times in the last few months.

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.

So it was a thrill for Tom and me to be officially part of the media at the Tall Ships Challenge in March, thanks to Visit Savannah.

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.

Seriously? Just how cool am I?

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.

River Street Inn (Photo courtesy of the Inn)

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.

Sails and Riggings of the Ships

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.

Crew members working on the rigging.

Galley on one of the ships.

Pretty comfortable bedroom - for the captain, maybe?

Navigation area - notice the beautiful wood everywhere.

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.

Ceramics - the crew staying busy.

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!

Kids love the tugboat!

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.

Sailors on the Dewaruci crowding the masts.

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!

Waiting for instructions.

Yikes! Am I doing this right?

Puhlease. I am a BORN sailor.

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.

The Dewaruci at night.

It was a wonderful experience – great food and the most incredible sunset you have ever seen.

Gorgeous sunset over the river.

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.

The ships sailing from the bridge and 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.

No matter.

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.

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6 Responses to Tall Ships Challenge 2012, Savannah, Georgia

  1. inka

    Tall ships have fuelled my imagination as long as I can think. i’m a water baby, anything to do with ships and watersports is where I will run too. I’d like nothing better that go on a tall ship cruise, and that despite dislikibg cruises generally.
    On a personal note: the press pass is WAY cool!!
    inka recently posted..Upcoming summer trips: Turkey, Oman and Jordan


    I love your photos;) esp the sunset photo:)..I have never been to savannah and you know what, I used to hate traveling around the US cus I always thought this country have nothing to see. Well, you can see how prejudice I am. But not anymore, the more and more I saw other people’s blog and photos, the more I find there are so many beautiful place in the US. Would love to visit one day and do the sailing cus I love the ocean also:)


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