Skill, communication, and conditions key to docking tall ships safely

By Evan Kruegel, Local 5 News

Published 08/15 2013 10:45PM

Updated 08/16 2013 06:36PM

Ships Arrive For Bay Lake Bank Tall Ships Festival
Ships Arrive For Bay Lake Bank Tall Ships Festival/WFRV-TV
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - Hundreds of residents came out to Leight Park in Green Bay Thursday afternoon to watch the tall ships make their way into port.

For onlookers,  it was clear just how much work goes into docking these majestic vessels.

"They're huge! It's amazing!"

Coleman Johnson waited all week for the tall ships to pull into Green Bay.

"It's going to be pretty cool because they're so big and tall it's going to be pretty huge," he says.

The first boat to arrive was the Unicorn, lead by Captain Denise Meagher. She says the size of her boat makes it difficult to dock. Especially when certain factors are out of her control.

"It really depends on the sea state, she says, "the wind and the sea state are really what get you"

And with such a large crew, communication is key.

"Sometimes more people doesn't necessarily mean an easier time with it because the commands get confused and people are bumping into each other," she says, "it's nice to have clear lines of communication from the boat to the dock. "

For those crew members stationed on the dock, it's all about listening to the captain .

"It's a lot more involved than it may look," dockhand Scott Conklin says. "There's a lot of communication that goes back and forth between the captain and the crew about which line you're working on, and to ease it into position. You know, it's not like parallel parking your car. It's a lot more involved than that."

But Conklin says when it comes to the tough decisions, look no further than the captains orders.

"We do what they tell us to!"

Captain Meagher says it can also be very difficult to dock at a port she's not familiar with. Those issues aside, the ships were able to safely dock here without too much difficulty Thursday afternoon.

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