Norwegian tall ship returns to Great Lakes 80-years later

By Terry Kovarik |

Published 08/10 2013 06:43PM

Updated 08/16 2013 06:24PM

CHICAGO (WFRV) The Port of Chicago is taking on a look from the turn of the century and beyond. The 14 ships arriving for Tall Ships Chicago festival hearken back to a hey day of wind powered Great Lakes shipping. One of them, "Sorlandet" is making a long awaited port of call here. "And this is the first time she'd come to Chicago in 80-years. She was Norway's exhibit for the 1933 World's Fair," said Patti Lock, Challenge Director for Tall Ships America. Since the Summer of '33, "Sorlandet" has gone from a merchant marine training ship to a sail training vessel for anyone from teenagers to seniors wanting to learn time-tested seamanship. "This is like going back a hundred years. It's living with the elements. living with the weather day to day. It's really challenging," said Captain Sture Erichsen, commander of the "Sorlandet". As a working ship, everyone has their duties ranging from piloting, to clean up, to meal preparation. That's in addition to the "Class Afloat" program for high schoolers. "These students are doing high school on board. They're being challenged academically, as well as socially and physically. So it is a fantastic experience for the young people on board," said Chief Officer Georgina Micet. Carter Smith says life on "Sorlandet" is quite the departure from farm life near Calgary, Alberta. "You're up at two o'clock in the morning. The waves are rolling over the side and you think--"What is going on here?" he said. For Samantha Svedsen from Staples, Minnesota, the biggest nautical challenge was overcoming fear of heights and arachnophobia. "I was climbing and it's like you lean back a little bit. So right by my hand there was a little spider. And I was like all right just keep climbing then," she said. This return trip was eighty years in the making. While that's almost an entire century, for those aboard the vessel believe better late than never. Especially for the trip of a lifetime. "Then you look back five-months later and think--"Yeah! I did it all. Around the world. Across the Atlantic. Back and forth, through storms and squalls and I'm still standing," said Carter Smith. Local Five's Terry Kovarik has the story.

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