Tall Ships, a Part of Charleston's Maritime History

Photo provided by: Priscilla Parker

Even a first-time visitor to Charleston can take a look around and see the city has deep maritime roots. The area's first inhabitants arrived via ship and settled into this southern city by the sea.

The Cooper and Ashley Rivers, plus the nearby Atlantic Ocean turned Charleston into a wealthy seaport, exporting rice, indigo and cotton. By 1750, Charleston was a bustling trade center for the southern colonies and quite a wealthy city. In 1770, it was the fourth largest port in the colonies.

Fast forward to today and the Port of Charleston remains one of the busiest on the East Coast. Established in 1942, South Carolina Ports is marking 75 years of supporting the state's commerce and economic development. Each day, an average of six vessels sail into South Carolina's harbors - including right here in Charleston - carrying cargo worth more than $150 million.

Celebrate Charleston’s maritime cultural and get an up close look at several tall ships during the Tall Ships Festival, a three-day maritime event that brings maritime history and the art of sailing to life. Nine tall ships will be in Charleston at one time. Not since 2009, has the city had that many tall ships docked here.



An exciting aspect of the Tall Ships Festival is that it’s a stop on the Tall Ships Challenge Atlantic Coast 2017 Series, giving would-be sailors the chance to sail aboard one of the ships.

As part of the Tall Ships Challenge Atlantic Coast 2017 Race Series and as a feeder port for the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, Charleston will welcome a fleet of international vessels. Plus, Charleston is the start point for a race to Bermuda, where the tall ships will join the Rendez-Vouz fleet before racing north to Sail Boston 2017 in June.

Founded in 1973, Tall Ships America is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching youth education through character building and leadership programs aboard tall ships. This year, Tall Ships America is collaborating with Sail Training International for a transatlantic Tall Ships Regatta.

The Tall Ships Festivals is May 19-21 at the Veterans Terminal Docks at the old Charleston Naval Shipyard. The festival also includes food trucks, vendors, music and a wooden boat show. For tickets and information, visit TallShipsCharleston.com.