A flotilla of international tall ships sails into St. Petersburg Thursday, June 27. The ships — anchored in Tampa Bay after completing the victory leg of the Americas' Sail competition from Curacao to Jamaica — are clippers, new variations of the mid-19th century vessels, with sharp lines and, as the name implies, tall masts.
The ships' arrival marks the beginning of a four-day Maritime Festival. But those of you who could give a sloop about sailing, don't worry; the bulk of the celebration takes place on dry land throughout downtown St. Petersburg.
But back to the ships. As the flotilla comes in June 27, any and all boats can sail and motor out to greet them. The ships leave Egmont Key at 7:30 a.m., pass under the Skyway Bridge and cruise along St. Petersburg's waterfront in a Parade of Sail from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The site of the Maritime Festival is the Port of St. Petersburg and USF-St. Petersburg's Bayboro campus. The site opens Friday, June 28, and runs throughout the weekend from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., offering sailing exhibits, arts and crafts, food and four stages of live entertainment.
Performing acts include the Buffalo Soldiers Color Guard, Air National Guard Band of the South, American Stage Dancers, Fred Johnson, Trio Sol Caliente and Belinda Womack.
The Don Cesar Resort and Spa hosts a Captain's Ball on Saturday, June 29. The Americas' Sail 2002 Trophy is presented at the black tie optional gala. This is not free. But you can party with some swarthy sailors at the crews' party at Cha Cha Coconuts on The Pier, taking place at the same time.
On Sunday, June 30, the celebration comes to a close. And Monday, July 1, the tall ships will depart.
For more info or a complete entertainment schedule, visit www.stpetetallships.com or call 727-825-3797.