Tall Ships Return to Baltimore

May 24, 1992

One of the unique joys of the 1976 bicentennial year was the visit of the tall ships to Baltimore. Over the summer, 11 of those graceful vessels sailed up the Chesapeake to moor at the Inner Harbor basin. Tens of thousands of Baltimoreans came to view them. Even at 4 a.m., night owls could be seen admiring those ocean-goers.

Happily for those who missed the 1976 event, those moments and memories will soon be repeated. From May 29 to Sept. 9, close to 30 sailing ships from Spain, Brazil, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Portugal, Italy, Germany and England are scheduled to visit the Inner Harbor as part of Baltimore's Operation Sail '92. They range from tall ships to frigates and schooners. (Also, Canada will send a submarine for the July 4th weekend).

This cavalcade commemorates the quincentenary of Columbus' voyage to America and starts with the visit of authentic replicas of the explorer's ships -- the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria -- May 29 through June 8. Among notable visitors scheduled for later in the summer are Italy's Amerigo Vespucci (Aug. 20-24) and Germany's Gorch Fock (Aug. 24-Sept. 15).

The tall ships will dock at the Inner Harbor. Smaller windjammers will be at Fells Point, where 12 schooners from ports around the United States take part in the annual maritime festival June 19-21. Meanwhile, the Pride of Baltimore II will be busy elsewhere. It will lead the grand parade at New York City's Operation Sail, the largest gathering of tall ships and smaller vessels since the Statue of Liberty centennial celebration in 1986.

From its founding, Baltimore's fortunes have been closely linked to seafaring and foreign trade. The forthcoming Operation Sail '92 will be an exciting reminder of simpler times not so long ago when ocean-going ships -- and not jet planes -- provided those crucial connections to the outside world. Times and technology may have changed, but transportation and commerce are as important to Maryland's future well-being as ever.

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