First of a weekly series on the Tall Ships coming to Kenosha

I like to say we love “all our children” – my “children” being the ships in the incoming fleet. For the past 20 years, I have worked with more than 50 historic sailing vessels and tall ships, and now seven of my favorites are coming to Kenosha.

This is no small feat, and not an accident, but a purposeful recruitment of the opportunity to bring ships representing the world to Kenosha.

First, Kenosha had to apply to be a host port. Tall Ships America, Newport, R.I., is very selective as to which port cities are involved in the Tall Ships Challenge, their race between cities roughly every three years in the Great Lakes. And to be a host port, it helps to have an amenable deep-water waterfront, an engaged festival planning team and a good location on Lake Michigan.

Next, you need to recruit your community to volunteer, and ask sponsors to help make it happen. It becomes an event of numbers: Seven ships, thousands of feet of sail, 400-plus volunteers, 15 community groups, 18 sponsors and 30 sail aways.

When you add it all together with visitors, from local and afar, the economic impact can be $2 to $4 million.

From the ship side, we’ll start with more numbers. Who traveled the farthest? If you have been following the ship tracking on our website,, you have seen Picton Castle sail past Puerto Rico to Bermuda. She is preparing for the last leg of her seventh circumnavigation, recently arriving at her Canadian home of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Homecoming should be special! After a short stay, a crew change and provisioning, the ship will sail around Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick and start her trek into the Great Lakes.

Can you imagine sailing around the world on a 179-foot, three-masted, fully-rigged ship? Pic{span}ton and her international crew sailed from Lunenburg to New Orleans last April. She had two goals: help the city celebrate its 300th anniversary, then cast off heading south to the Panama Canal.{/span}

From there, the ship headed west to the Galapagos Islands. The Cook Islands are Picton’s home flag. She visited Rarotonga, Vanuatu and Bali and a few other Polynesian islands. The next main stop was Reunion, South Africa, Namibia and St. Helena before heading north through the Caribbean.

Why make these stops? One of Picton’s missions is to collect books and school supplies. The crew visits villages in faraway places to distribute supplies and sometimes teach.

Kenosha Tall Ships is taking Picton’s lead and will be collecting books at the festival in partnership with the Kenosha Literacy Council. If you have some books you’re ready to recycle, please bring them with you. We’ll make sure they are put to good use. Our goal is 350 pounds of books.

There is a lot to discover about these unique and historic ships. One fun fact about Picton Castle is that she collects goods from around the world to sell to visitors at each port stop. The second is that she has two cats on board, one of which will visit us in Kenosha. Her name is Fiji! (of course!)

For more information about Picton Castle, festival and sail away tickets, go to Event dates: Ships arrive Aug. 1 in a Parade of Sail. Festival dates are Aug. 2-4.

Patricia Lock is tall ship consultant for the city of Kenosha.

Picton Castle background

179-foot length overall

A three-masted barque with a riveted steel hull and steel masts with wooden and steel yards

From the Cook Islands.

Built as a fishing trawler in 1928, she carries 12,450 square feet of canvas sail.

The ship also has a powerful 690 horsepower Burmeister & Wain alpha diesel engine for occasions when sailing is not feasible.


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