Yesterday, Day 2 of the Huntington Tall Ships Toledo festival, was the day people had been waiting for.
The ships were open for tours for the first time.
And what they saw, they liked.
“It's everything I thought it would be and more,” said Glenn Redman, of Bucyrus, Ohio.
Mr. Redman and his wife, Linda, avid sailors, spent Wednesday along with thousands of spectators who lined the Maumee River watching the 16 ships enter the downtown riverfront during the festival's opening parade.
They stayed overnight at the Wyndham Hotel and were at International Park yesterday afternoon, where nine of the ships welcomed visitors.
Their first stop was the HMS Bounty, a replica of a 17th century ship that was built in 1960 for the movie Mutiny on the Bounty. With lines stretching 150 yards and more, the Bounty, moored next to the Anthony Wayne Bridge, clearly was the most popular attraction.
On board, Mrs. Redman grabbed the wheel, which towered above her, and cracked, “No power steering.”
In a more serious vein, she wondered how 45 sailors ate and slept in an area the size of a two-car garage.
“No wonder they mutinied,” she said.
Deck hand Melanie Partin, of Conway, Ark., patiently answered questions.
George Walters, of Dayton, wondered how the crew handled medical emergencies at sea. Ms. Partin told him most of the crew were schooled in basic first aid.
“If it's serious, we call the Coast Guard,” she said.
Rick Wunderley, of Findlay, a Mayflower descendant, was astounded by the ship's intricate design and construction, which he assumed was state-of-the-art for its time.
“How we look at aerospace today is probably how kids then looked at this ship,” he said.
The number of visitors yesterday was not as large as those who watched the ships parade on Wednesday. Organizers, who predicted crowds of 20,000 or more each day, said that will change beginning today.
“It will build from here. By Sunday, people will realize if they don't see them, they will be gone tomorrow,” said Patti Lock, who recruited the ships for the festival.
Still, lines of varying length formed in front of each of the ships docked at International Park and the three anchored at the Owens-Illinois Boat Basin near Promenade Park. Two of the ships - the Appledore IV and the Red Witch - spent the day carrying tourists up and down the river. The Redmans had hoped to sign on, but discovered the tours were filled.
People over 9 years old paid $15 to tour the ships. Vendors lined up the length of the ships hoping to cash in as well. A lemonade was $4, a gyro $5, a coffee mug $10. Programs sold for $5.
The day, like Wednesday, was hot and sunny with low humidity. Organizers set up tents on the knoll above the ships. Some visitors, like Mary White of Columbus, found the shade, cooled considerably by a brisk wind, comforting.
While her family toured the ships, she read a book and glanced occasionally at her favorite ship, Highlander Sea. She had once sailed on a similar vessel in Vancouver.
“It's beautiful,” she said.
Some visitors learned more than how a ship operates. On the True North, after First Mate Kyle Boland of Toronto explained the workings of the ship's magnetic compass, he explained how the ship often hosted youth camps to help defer expenses.
Initially, he said, most of the youths complain about the food and despise the work. By the end of their tours, they don't want to leave.
“We teach them how to sail, but the most important thing they learn is how to work together and learn to work in a small space,” he said.
Another popular ship was the INS Tarangini, a Indian Navy vessel. Jitendra Rai, the ship's medic, said the Tarangini left India Jan. 23 and won't return until May. He's one of five sailors who has yet to return home.
“I miss my family a lot,” said Mr. Rai, who has a favorable impression of the Toledo waterfront. “It's much cleaner than New York.”
Crowds were thinner at the Owens-Illinois basin, where the Nina was the most popular attraction. The replica of the Christopher Columbus ship was built in 1991 in Brazil.
Todd Boggs of Maumee, aboard the Nina, wondered how the sailors of that time dealt with the difficult living conditions. But he was most impressed by the plaque on the ship's boat, used to ferry people from the shore to the mother ship. The boat was built by a 14-year-old apprentice whose family built the Nina.
Since a number of the visitors parked downtown and visited the Nina before heading on foot to the east bank, they hadn't yet paid and were missing the blue admission wrist band. The ship's crew welcomed them aboard anyway.
“They came all this way. We were not going to turn people ” said deck hand Brooke Wright of Holland, Mich.
Crew members like Ms. Wright are in demand. Several ships had “help wanted” signs posted. The Caledonia's plight is more urgent: The crew is seeking a cook.
Its search could be a long one.
“Hard work. Long hours. Brutal pay,” the sign said.