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ABOARD THE APPLEDORE IV - Even a seasoned sailor like Capt. Dan Arsenault stopped to appreciate the sun, the sails, and the spectators yesterday as the Huntington Tall Ships Toledo festival began with a parade of boats through downtown.
“It reinvigorates you,” the Maine native said from the helm of the 85-foot-long topsail schooner. “It reminds you, when people are aboard and smiling, how cool this is.”
As thousands lined Toledo's parks, waterfront, and bridges, the Appledore IV and 15 other tall ships motorsailed up the Maumee River and into their berths for the four-day festival.
Seventeen ships will be part of the event that begins with public viewing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today continuing through Sunday. Tickets are $15 at the gate and $12 in advance.
Viewing the parade was free yesterday, so boaters and landlubbers alike took advantage of the cloudless sky and balmy weather. Dozens of boats anchored at the mouth of the Maumee. People picnicked along the river and still more lined the downtown docks as the ships came in.
“This is way better than Cleveland - way more people,” Captain Arsenault said, fresh from that city's Tall Ships festival. “I'm stunned at the resurgence in the interest of historical ships.”
With a flying jib and staysail and reefed foresail and mainsail hoisted, the Appledore IV and its 45 passengers left International Park in the morning and powered northward to Lake Erie to join the other tall ships just arriving from other ports. As they motorsailed up the Maumee, they passed thousands of spectators waving and saluting from the shore.
“Welcome to Toledo,” came the calls from the CSX span.
“Ahoy Appledore,” people yelled from the Norfolk Southern bridge.
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The Appledore IV, which is booked for all of its day sails during the festival, lined up with the first wave of Tall Ships to dock yesterday: the Red Witch, the Pride of Baltimore, the Pathfinder, and the Nina. They docked at International Park and Promenade Park about 1:30 p.m.
The second group, which arrived later, was led by the Tarangini, an Indian navy training vessel. Ships in the fleet communicated by radio with each other and escort boats.
The After Hours was one yacht that assisted the second group. “It is our proud honor to lead you into Toledo,” a crewman told them by radio.
Aboard the Appledore IV, passengers were celebrating birthdays, giving their elementary-age children a special treat, and welcoming home adult children for summertime visits.
Judy Stone, an Old West End resident and Realtor, gave her husband, Skip Gaynor, the 31/2 hour sail as his 52nd birthday gift.
“I'd have to say it's the best birthday present ever,” he said.
Steven Micham took sons Isaiah, 7, and Zephaniah, 6, out for their first sail. The boys' favorite part was the cannon salute.
Zephaniah mixed some safety at sea with his adventurous afternoon. He asked for a life jacket as the ship left the dock.
“I need one,” he said.
“We wanted to do something special for her,” Mrs. Croak said.
Calling the day “awesome,” Dr. Croak said his ride on the Appledore IV had inspired him to do more sailing.