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Windblown and Shipshape : Replicas of 19th-Century Brigs Sail In for Dana Point Tallships Festival

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jeremy Clark and his family arrived at the marina early Saturday, securing a choice spot at the edge of the water to watch their ships come in.

After two hours of waiting, the massive white sails appeared from beyond the rocky breakwater, towering over the smaller boats making their way into the harbor and immediately capturing Jeremy’s attention.

“There she blows!” the 9-year-old Riverside boy cried upon seeing the first of four ornate tall ships that docked at Dana Point Harbor on Saturday.

“It looks just like in the movies,” Clark told his father, Edward. “Where are the pirates?”

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Others enjoying the first day of the 1997 Dana Point Tallships Festival were slightly less vocal, though the replicas of 19th-century brigs did fascinate both old and young alike.

“This is a sight to see for landlubbers like us,” said Al Caruso, 64, an Anaheim grocery store manager who viewed the procession of ships from the bluffs high above the harbor. “All the other boats look like little toy figures. But these are graceful giants.”

The festival, which continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, includes arts and crafts vendors, a musical group singing maritime ballads like “We’re Bound for South Australia” and demonstrations of knot tying and sail raising.

The event is sponsored by the Dana Point Marine Institute, which considered dropping the festival earlier this year after the city withdrew its financial support.

Eventually, Toshiba Copier/Fax agreed to co-sponsor the event and also help pay for repairs to the Pilgrim, a reproduction of a 19th-century brig docked in Dana Point Harbor.

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Dan and Pauline Watley of Mission Viejo eyed the Pilgrim’s polished wood steering wheel, shining brass fixtures and ornately carved bow with admiration.

“It looks like a real antique,” Dan Watley said, glancing up at the 96-foot mast. “It outclasses these modern boats over here.”

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The Pilgrim was joined at Dana Point Harbor by four other tall ships: the Pilgrim of Newport, the Californian, the Witch of Wood and the Switch of Ipswitch.

The festival began with the dedication of a bronze sculpture that depicts two seamen lifting a sail. Today, the festival concludes with a mock cannon battle among the ships.

Lisa Stewart, 10, of Irvine got an idea of how to fold a big sail at a special class held at the harbor. Balancing on a thin strip of wood meant to mimic the edge of the ship, Lisa and a group of children carefully pulled the sail up and secured it to a rope.

She ended the lesson with an enthusiastic “Hip hip, hooray!”

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