SEPTEMBER AND SAILS: The sea has seasons, of course, but we landlubbers also have traditions involving the ocean, traditions we clock by the calendar. The Toshiba Tall Ships visit to Dana Point is a late-summer favorite, something that many a 'lubber and lover of marine lore anticipate. Of course, there are old-school California-based vessels to visit throughout the year -- Star of India, we're looking, with admiration, at you -- but the Toshiba festival is different in a few ways. Most significantly, it is the number of ships that dock. Eight ships in all are on the roster, and you likely know them or have heard their names: Bill of Rights, The Brig Pilgrim, Californian, The Curlew. There are also the "twin" brigantines, Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson, and American Pride and The Spirit of Dana Point to round things out in rather grand fashion. And we don't use the term "grand" lightly: Seeing the ships in profusion, especially in the sunset parade, is a rather memorable experience, and one that only ever comes around at Tall Ship events.
DATES AND HAPPENINGS: That oh-so-popular sunset parade is schedule for Friday, Sept. 6 at, yep, sunset, but there will be other all-hands-on-deck to-dos to jump into over the Saturday, Sept. 7 and Sunday, Sept. 8 weekend. The cannon battles are another top-of-the-lister for many people -- they happen both weekend days -- and the sea chantey concerts. We'll go out on a plank and describe the sea chantey as frankly rollicking, and if you feel your music choices are too staid, this is the game-changer. Finally, you'll want to hop on a public tour of a ship. It is indeed a heart-flutterer to spy the sails out on the water at sunset, but you want to see the bunks, masts, and other shiply stuff up close. Ohhh, and how many pieces of gold will you require? The sunset parade is free to view, but you might want to pick up a Pirate's Pass or tickets to a sail or cruise if you want a fuller experience. Those cost separately, so do what any fine captain might do: Make speed (and purchase them well ahead of September).