This morning, I went down to River Street to catch the tall ships visiting Savannah for the Savannah Tall Ships Challenge. I chose to go down this morning for several reasons. I was feeling a bit under the weather over the weekend, I don’t like crowds, and I didn’t want to catch a massive sunburn (working midnights makes you somewhat like a vampire…). Once there, I realized there was another reason to be glad I waited: I got to see the ships in a working state rather than all gussied up for display. I enjoyed seeing the Midshipmen from the Coast Guard Academy hand loading the USCGC Eagle with fresh fruit and vegetables. I got to see the Midshipmen from the KRI Dewaruci having their morning formation. The crews of the French Navy schooners Belle Poule and Etoile preparing to get underway later in the morning. As I walked along River Street and Rousakis Plaza this morning, I wondered if what I was seeing was what similar to what would have been seen along the river in the days of sail.
My favorite ships were the naval training ships: The USCGC Eagle, the Indonesian Navy KRI Derawuci, and the French Navy Belle Poule and Etoile. From what I understand of the weekend’s festivities, the Derwauci was quite a hit with the festival attendees. I truly enjoyed watching their morning formation and the spirit and elan that they exhibited.
The naval training ships weren’t the only tall ships to take part in the Tall Ships Challenge though. There was a variety of other ships moored along River Street and the International Trade Center.
As I post this, the tall ships are getting underway to form up for the Tall Ships Parade down the Savannah River. Anyone with a scanner, Marine VHF radio, or even amateur radio gear that can receive the right frequency range can listen to the preparations and the parade of Marine VHF Ch. 72 (156.625 MHz). Escort activity from USCG, USCG Auxiliary vessels, and the SCMPD Marine Patrol including the USCGC Tarpon is on Marine VHF Ch. 21 (157.050 MHz).
By all accounts, this has been a magnificent event for Savannah. Savannah is a fitting location for an event like this given her history and heritage as a port city which continues to this day. I hope the Tall Ships Challenge returns in the future!
Update (1715 hrs, 7 May 2012): I don’t know if they’ll continue to use 156.625, Marine VHF Ch. 72 for the rest of the Tall Ship Challenge, but Parade Command switched to Race Committee once the ships were offshore and the frequency was used to coordinate and start the race. For those along the route, I would definitely program it in and keep an ear out. Based on instructions given to the ships, it sounds like the race will go from 8 AM to Midnight each day.