A 198-foot United States brig, a reconstruction of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s warship Niagara, will lead a fleet of historic tall ships through Lake Michigan form July 17 to Aug. 9—and stop at the four historic official host ports; Chicago; South Haven, MI; Milwaukee; and Racine WI.

Family-friendly festivals, demonstrations and tours will mark the dockside arrival of the ships which sail under the banner of ASTA—-The American Sail Training Association—which sponsors Tall Ship celebrations throughout the world.

In addition to Niagara, representing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the lively 118-foot two masted topsail schooner true North, built in Holland in 1947 of confiscated German U-boat steel, will join the 72-foot brigantines Pathfinder and Playfair which are coming in from Toronto.

Norway is sending the 109-foot, 107-year-old square rigged topsail ketch Anna Kristina while the two-masted 92-foot gaff topsail schooner Madeline, a replica of an 1800s merchant schooner, will also join the fleet.

History buffs will recall the Niagara, commanded by Perry defeated a British squadron of British forces that had invaded the Northwest Territory. Commodore Perry’s "Don’t Give Up The Ship," during the battle is part of seagoing lore.

ASTA ships are manned by volunteers—of all ages—or trainees for the most part. They provide hands-on experience for everyone who loves the sea and the prospect of adventure. Most nations have a tall ship they use to tarin future Navy, Coast Guard or merchant Marine officers.s.

For the ASA sail training races, at least 50 percent of those onboard must have trainees and at least 50 percent must be between the ages of 15 and 25.

Next year there will be a Gold Rush Race organized by the California Sesquicentennial, the national Heritage Society and ASA and in 2000 the Tall Ships "Race of the Century" will find thousands of big sailing vessels from Europe, South American and the US in a transatlantic race.

If you’re making vacations plans early, here’s where you can see the Tall Ships this summer: Chicago, July 17-20, Info phone 312-595-7437; South Haven, MI, July 25-27, Phone 616-637-5252; Milwaukee, WI, July 31- Aug. 2, Phone 414-276-7700; Racine, WI, Aug. 6-9, Phone, 414-636-2393.

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