Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tall Ships Pict-o-rama

by C.J. Chase

When I originally signed up for this day, I intended to commemorate the bicentennial of the USA's declaration of war on Great Britain -- June 18, 1812. But instead I decided to take my camera and my notebook to the last day of Operation Sail (OpSail) when it was in Norfolk, Virginia.

I figured it could count this as a "research" trip since the hero of the book I'm just finishing spent 20 years in the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. (Not fighting the Americans, however.)

In honor of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, here are some of the best of the 90+ pictures I took of the tall ships. You can click on the pictures if you'd like to see them full size.

The flag with 15 stars and stripes still waved over Fort McHenry on the morning of September 14, 1814 when Francis Scott Key penned the words to "The Star Spangled Banner."
I took this picture from the fourth level of the closest parking garage, just to give myself an eye-level view of the masts.

To go along with my eye-level perspective, this is what one of those tall masts looks like from the bottom. Pretty high, huh?

Here are some of the tallest of the tall ships next to good-sized office buildings. I guess climbing one of those masts must be a little like being a window washer!
The U.S. Coast Guard's American Eagle pulled out while I was there. Unfortunately, she used her very 21st century engines rather than wind power, so she didn't unfurl her sails.
Three ships left England in 1606 and arrived in Virginia in May of 1607 to found the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown. The Godspeed was the middle-sized ship. How small was she compared to later sailing ships? She's the brown ship I marked with an arrow. Imagine spending 6 months with 51 of your closest friends on there!
Oh, yeah. I got to tour some of the ships too. This is the wheel of the Pride of Baltimore II. She is a replica of a War of 1812 era American privateer.
On the deck of the Pride of Baltimore II.

How would you like to have to learn where every one of her ropes goes???
Those privateers were armed, of course.

Late 18th century/early 19th century pistols for hand-to-hand combat.
The ugly side of combat -- injury and death. Here is a collection of medical instruments from the time period.
I'm not sure one would have found Popeye on the masts during the Age of Sail. This is the Guayas, a training ship operated by the Ecuadorian Navy.
You can also find cute Ecuadorian sailors on an Ecuadorian ship.

Can you imagine climbing up this mast?

On the far left of this picture is a modern warship, just for comparison.
I thought this was a gorgeous picture of the ships.
One final picture of an early 19th century ship. Did you notice the ship pictured on the cover of this novel by the notorious C.J. Chase? My next book (available February 2013) features a retired navy captain, but alas, no ships.
After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Her next book, The Reluctant Earl, will be available in February of 2013. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at  www.cjchasebooks.com


  1. I think I told CJ this when I saw her Saturday, but my husband and I went out on a pontoon boat last Thursday with some friend and drove through the Chesapeake Bay through all the tall ships getting ready for op-sail. It was really beautiful. My husband's new cover picture on facebook the sun setting behind one of the ships.

  2. Sunset pictures are cool. I got a few good ones the last time the tall ships were here (for the 400th anniversary of Jamestown). Was kind of disappointed I didn't get any this time, but I didn't want to drive back last night.

    I would have liked to have gone to watch them sail out today so I could get some shots with the sails unfurled but
    (1) I can't afford to give up another writing day this week and
    (2) it's cloudy/rainy anyway.

  3. Very nice, CJ. And btw, I do think this is a lovely commemoration. I got to go on a tall ship "battle at sea" in our cove two summers ago with my son. Hubby stayed ashore and took amazing pictures. As there were about 50 people on board, no, I can't imagine being on there more than an afternoon with that many people. Five or six, maybe. But no more than that.

  4. Suzie, I like my space. I'd get claustrophobic on a ship with that many people. Maybe if I had a job where I could stay on the deck all the time...

    I tell everyone it's the Midwestern girl in me who needs some wide open spaces.

  5. Great photos. (Those medical instruments--bleah!) I can't imagine crossing the Atlantic on the Godspeed. Astonishing.

    Thanks for the post!

  6. Thanks, Susie! I have about 80 more photos. Hmm. Wonder how many times I could do tall ships photo posts? I suppose I'd run out of readers before I run out of pictures!

    And yeah, the medical instruments are bad enough, but putting them on a cloth that looks like it's covered in blood brings it all home.

  7. Thanks, DeAnna. It was fun.

    I mean, it was work. WORK, I tell ya! But I'm willing to suffer for the sake of art.

  8. Absolutely love the pics, CJ. I’ve already gone back several times to look at them because each time I see something new.

    When you showed us the eye-level view, and then the view looking up at the mast, I was hoping the next view would be looking down. Nope. LOL

    Another thing I noticed was all the inkwellinspirations.com notations. I’m assuming you did that. It’s a great idea. What did you use?

    Thank you for this post. It soothes while feeding my thirst for research. Fantastic photos.


  9. Haha. No, Anita, I'm too afraid of heights to climb 100 or 200 or more feet in the air on a pole. Don't think the ship owners would have particularly liked that either.

    What I really wanted to see was the below-deck area (where passengers would have spent most of their time), but none of the ones I went on allowed people below deck. But these were replicas, and they all seemed to have an engine room down below with very modern engines for those times they were traveling without sails. (I took a picture looking down at the engines from the deck of one of them, but didn't post it.)

    The Godspeed (the one from Jamestown I mentioned) is a truly authentic replica. I have been below deck on that one at Jamestown. Five years ago when the tall ships where in Norfolk to commemorate Jametown's 400th anniversary, I was on the Kalmar Nyckel (replica of a 17th century Swedish ship) and I remember seeing the area below deck -- but it wasn't docked in Norfolk this time. I may have to go to Jamestown some time after the Godspeed comes back from OpSail and get pictures of all three of the ships there -- above and below deck. Might make another good photo montage.

    A couple of the ships I really wanted to see (like the Sultana, a replica of a 1767 British revenue cutter) were docked a Cape Charles -- too far for me to drive. The program said the Bounty (a replica of the HMS Bounty used to make the movie Mutiny on the Bounty) was supposed to be in Portsmouth. I took the ferry over to Portsmouth, but I couldn't find it either. (With a mast almost 200' feet tall, I figured if I couldn't find it, it must have already left. Hard to overlook something that tall.) But I took some of the best pictures from the ferry, so it was worth the couple bucks it cost me.

  10. Many years ago, I enjoyed the privilege of sailing on the HMS Rose, rechristened The Surprise for the movie Master and Commander. Climbed rigging, hauled lines and all. What a treat! and, if it's not inappropriate for me to say so, those sailors had amazing arms.

  11. I'm late but I missed this earlier.

    I am jealous.

    I plan to go to a Tall Ships day up in Canada in July during one of the War of 1812 Events. It happens to be the day after a reenactment at Ft Niagara and is quite a drive, one from the other, but I do so want to see the ships!

    Thanks CJ. Wonderful photos, and I would be one happily looking through ALL your photos.


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