With sails swelling, eight historic wooden ships will enter Duluth Harbor on July 28 for the seven-day Tall Ships Duluth 2010 Festival.
The Barque Europa, a 1911 Dutch boat with three towering masts, will have passed through the Panama Canal on its way to the port city by the time you read this. The German Roald Amundsen recently stopped by Martinique after its transatlantic journey before heading north. Meanwhile, the Freedom Schooner Amistad -- a replica of the ship famed for an onboard slave rebellion -- awaits in its home port of New Haven, Conn.
All three sailing ships, plus five others, plan to gather at the Gulf of St. Lawrence for a convoy -- propelled by the wind -- through the Great Lakes. Duluth will be their only stop on Lake Superior.
Two ships, the U.S. Brig Niagara and the Pride of Baltimore, have anchored in the harbor previously, when they were part of a Duluth Maritime Festival in 2008. An estimated 125,000 people attended that event.
This summer's festival kicks off with a Tall Ship Parade of Sail on Thursday, July 29, at 2 p.m. Ship tours are offered that Friday through Sunday, and "sailaways" -- when ticket-holding visitors take to the water on a ship -- take place Friday through Monday. On Aug. 3, the ships will form another informal parade as they sail, armada style, toward their next stop: Green Bay, Wis.
The event promises to be popular. Scheduled sailaways are already sold out, though others may be added. Duluth hotel rooms are filling up.
For a schedule of events, details of the ships, lodging information and to buy tickets, go to www.visitduluth.com and click on "Tall Ships Duluth 2010."