Land ho!

Our expert weighs in: Ships from over 60 nations tour the Eastern Seaboard; lighthouses offer beds to travelers; plus he's got the goods on Mount Rushmore.

Published May 4, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

We've heard about the big/tall ship events coming to the East Coast this summer. When exactly will the fleet be in each of the cities on the tour?

Nothing quite stirs the blood like a parade of tall ships -- vessels such as the Bounty, the Mary Rose, the Sir Francis Drake and the Unicorn. This huge party-under-sail will visit eight U.S. ports over two months this summer.

Starting in late May, tall ships from more than 60 nations will take part in Operation Sail 2000. The first stop will be San Juan, Puerto Rico, on May 25-29, then the fleet will continue north to Miami, June 7-10, and up the East Coast to Norfolk, Va., June 16-20; Baltimore, June 23-29; Philadelphia, June 23-29; New York, July 3-9; New London, Conn., July 12-15; and finally to Portland, Maine, July 28-31.

Each port plans dozens of related events. Expect to see beaucoup music, dancing and fireworks -- all framed by soaring masts and sails. OpSail's biggest bang will be in New York, where it arrives in time for the 224th Independence Day observance. Organizers expect the ship's week there to attract more than 40,000 spectator vessels to New York Harbor and help draw about four million people into the city.

The same organizers are touting the tall-ship parade there as the longest such parade ever. Navy and Coast Guard ships will line 10 miles of New York Harbor, and President Clinton and other dignitaries will review the ships from the deck of an aircraft carrier.

Get details on itineraries and related events through the OpSail 2000 site, and through sites of the individual ports, including San Juan, Miami, Norfolk, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New London.

Quite a few of the tall ships have Web sites, too, listed on the OpSail resources page. You can also expect various ships to make appearances in other coastal cities this summer, some involved in an international contest called the Tall Ships 2000 Race Series. Those ships will cross from Europe to Bermuda to Boston, where at least 25 "class A" ships will visit July 11-14 during Sail Boston 2000. The ships will continue to Halifax, Nova Scotia, before starting the final leg to Cadiz, Spain.

We like the idea of staying in a lighthouse. Where can we find lighthouses that have been converted into B&Bs or other lodging?

"American Lighthouses: A Comprehensive Guide," by Bruce Roberts and Ray Jones (Globe Pequot Press, 1998), describes and depicts more than 300 lighthouses, including directions for reaching the lights. The book also notes which ones take guests, although only a relative handful of lighthouses and keepers' houses nationwide are equipped to do so. Among them:

  • East Brother Light, near Richmond, Calif., in the straits that separate San Francisco and San Pablo bays, operates as the five-bedroom East Brother Light Station B&B, phone (510) 233-2385.

  • In Michigan on Lake Superior, the Big Bay Point Lighthouse has seven rooms overlooking the bay; phone (908) 345-9957

  • In Maine, the keeper's house at the old Robinson Point Light at Isle au Haut is a B&B open from May through October. Contact the Keeper's House, Box 26, Isle au Haut, Maine 04645; phone (207) 367-2261.

  • In West Dennis, Mass., on Cape Cod, five rooms are in the keeper's house at The Lighthouse Inn, open mid-May to mid-October. Phone (508) 398-2244.

  • The two keeper's bedrooms at Rose Island Lighthouse in Narragansett Bay, R.I., become available for overnight guests after the lighthouse museum closes each day. Phone (401) 847-4242.

    At least three youth hostels are located at lighthouses: Pigeon Point, 50 miles south of San Francisco; Point Montara, 25 miles south of San Francisco; and Tibbetts Point Lighthouse, on Lake Ontario near Cape Vincent, N.Y. These can be found at the Hostelling International-American Youth Hostels site. Lighthouse buffs can also check out the Lighthouses Around the World pages.

    We're planning a family trip to Mount Rushmore this summer. What other nearby attractions would appeal to children?

    Mount Rushmore is only the most prominent attraction in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Here are a few of the others:

  • Custer State Park, which has its own herd of buffalo.

  • Deadwood, a town best known as the place where Wild Bill Hickock was shot while playing cards. It's now a gambling mecca, but still has many Wild West attractions, including Boot Hill and gold mining tours.

  • The Crazy Horse Monument, a huge Indian memorial being carved into a mountainside not far from Rushmore.

  • The Museum of Geology and Dinosaur Park, both in Rapid City, S.D.

  • The Needles Highway winds through some amazing peaks and scenery, great for climbing and sightseeing. East of Mount Rushmore and worth at least a drive-through is Badlands National Park, with eerie formations. For information, contact Mount Rushmore National Monument, Box 268, Keystone, S.D. 57751; phone (605) 574-2523. For a state tourism guide, contact the South Dakota Department of Tourism; phone (800) 732-5682.

    Families with children ages 6 to 12 can consider the Children's Fun Pass, which offers free admission to almost 70 South Dakota attractions, including 39 in the Black Hills area. The pass costs $15 per child. Among attractions are Bear Country USA, Big Thunder Gold Mine, Black Hills Maze, Black Hills Passion Play, Flintstones Bedrock City, The Journey and Stagebarn Crystal Cave. Call (800) 873-5864. AAA members receive a discount on the pass.

  • By Donald D. Groff

    Donald D. Groff has been dispensing travel advice for a decade for such publications as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, the Boston Globe and the Kansas City Star.

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