Tall ship visit

HOUGHTON – The tall ship Mist of Avalon, a privately owned two-masted schooner out of Toronto, Canada, had been docked at the city’s waterfront since Monday. The ship’s hull design was based on a 19th century commercial fishing ship from Grand Banks, said James, a deckhand on the Mist of Avalon. James declined to give his last name.

The 100-foot-long schooner has been through more than one of the Great Lakes recently.

“We’ve just come from Chicago where we did a tall ships event,” said the ship’s captain, who declined to give his name. “We stopped at Sault Ste. Marie for a day or two, and we’re currently on our way to Grand Portage for a tall ships event.”

The captain said the Mist of Avalon will be the only ship attending the reenactment event, which is being sponsored by the National Park Service.

Tall ships do not necessarily have to face the gales of Lake Superior as they once did, the captain said. Modern technology helps them minimize risks, “but you don’t have to look very hard to find a map of shipwrecks on the Great Lakes.”

“For us, small squalls are really common on the Great Lakes,” the captain said. “Small squalls that can be quite powerful. Those we just ride out. You can try to avoid them. You can often see them on radar, but we also have the internet, a lot of weather routing.”

The tall ship was scheduled to leave Houghton “early, early Thursday morning,” the captain said, riding ahead of predicted 15 mile-per-hour easterly winds. “We’ll arrive at Grand Portage early, because we’ll give ourselves enough time to get there before some stronger winds come that we don’t want to deal with.”

While the ship remains traveling through the Portage Canal, it will use its diesel engine rather than sail power.

“It’s just a lot easier using the engine in waters like the canal,” the captain said.