High water making it a challenge for tall ships to come to port

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- The first of nine Tall Ships docked at Leicht Park Wednesday afternoon for the Nicolet Bank Tall Ships Festival set for this weekend.

The Picton Castle, one of the Tall Ships, docked at Leicht Park.

However, high water along Lake Michigan and the Fox River is making it difficult for one ship in particular to come into port.

“Bluenose II is our tallest ship coming in and she already knew she was tall and she already lowered her mast. She sailed all the way from Bay City Michigan with her mast lowered, but she's still only 2 inches from the top of the Leo Frigo Bridge,” said Holly Williams, vice president of events for PMI Entertainment.

The ship is in the Bay of Green Bay, getting more fuel to make her heavier and waiting for the water levels to recede.

The water is also making it challenging for ships to dock at the next stop.

“In Sturgeon Bay, we're also have issues with the water because it's only eight inches below the sidewalk and one of the docking locations where Picton Castle and Santa Maria will be. So we're having to make some adjustments to the ships and their docking situations so they can safely dock there,” said Williams.

Meanwhile, the Picton Castle had no trouble getting to port.

It's the first to dock at Leicht Park, because the ship can't be out on the Great Lakes for an extended period of time without having to pay a fee.

“We are required pilotage for every inch of the Great Lakes, we're under foreign flag, we're flag in the Cook Island, so we require a pilot and that is a cost factor,” said Dirk Lorenzen, captain of the ship.

The Picton Castle has a small crew of only 23 this time, but can carry more than 50 people.

Many of them learning the ropes about how to be a mariner and traveling to remote islands.

“We come to places others don’t necessarily visit, very remote places. Islands in the South Pacific or elsewhere in the Indian Ocean, wherever they are,” said Lorenzen. “We collect donations, for example, school materials and education materials and we take these to the small communities.”