On board one of the tall ships at the Buffalo Waterfront

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — More than 100,000 people are expected to visit the Buffalo Waterfront over the weekend to see Basil Port of Call: Buffalo. The event is bringing in 12 tall ships from as far away as the Cook Islands, in the South Pacific.

But one of the ships is much closer to home. The U.S. Brig Niagara’s home port is just 80 miles down the Lake Erie shoreline in Erie, Pennsylvania.

“This ship is one of the most complicated in the country, even the world,” said Chris Cusson, who captains the Niagara.

It’s a reconstruction of a historic wooden flagship from the War of 1812. That means it features traditional, era-appropriate technology. The crew is kept busy.

“For example, just coming here from Toronto, we had to go through the Welland Canal,” explained Cusson as his ship was moored along Canalside. “We had to make all of the things that stick outside the ship stick inside the ship. That’s a lot of work. It’s a whole-day process.”

The ship will participate in a total of eight tall ship festivals in 2019. It takes part in tours every three years. 

In addition to the crew of 17 members, nearly two dozen trainees are spending two weeks on the ship learning how everything works. The trainee program is open to anyone 14 years old or older. As is the case with the other 11 tall ships, spectators are able to board the ship on the waterfront over the weekend and see how it all works.

“One of the special things about the Niagara is we’re going to be able to invite them to go below onto our berth deck, where a majority of our crew and our trainees sleep,” said Cusson.

One-day passes to take tours on the tall ships are $20. There are discounts for children, seniors, and veterans.

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