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Posted: September 14th, 2010

It takes a lot for Niagara to stay in operation. Described as “a living, breathing” vessel by an Erie Maritime Museum guide, the Niagara needs to sail regularly and undergo regular maintenance to stay in shape.

During the summer, the Niagara sails with about 17 paid crewmembers and 20-24 volunteers. However, the Niagara keeps five full-time employees all year round to ensure that Niagara stays maintained on the water and in the community, to ensure she sails for seasons to come.

Niagara crew welcomed visitors onboard during the Tall Ships Erie festival

Niagara crew welcomed visitors onboard during the Tall Ships Erie festival

Here are Niagara’s five full-time employees:

Walter Rybka: Senior Captain- Rybka describes his role onboard as “relief captain,” only getting to sail about 25 percent of the time. This highly experienced sailor coaches the younger mates to do as much as possible, to gain their own experience. Rybka works with Niagara’s administrative needs.

Wesley Heerssen: Captain- The ship’s captain is always looking towards the next port, and Heerssen often deals with planning and administration.

Billy Sabatini: Chief Mate- Focused with the crew and activities onboard the ship, Sabatini often helps the ship’s captain, but also manages Niagara’s winter maintenance.

Pat Crosby: 4th Mate/Carpenter/Engineer- This indispensable crewmember makes sure Niagara runs smoothly, stays free of leaks, and ensures Niagara stays well-maintained.

Rob Aspinwal: Boatswain- Aspinwal works in the Niagara’s “Tar Pit,” the work area inside the museum so-called for the tar-covered lines maintained there. He maintains the ship’s rigging.

See the Flagship Niagara featured in They Started in Erie.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: September 12th, 2010

Saturday was a busy day at Tall Ships Erie, and we had plenty of visitors at the GoErie photo booth. Check in our photo booth photo gallery to see your picture, or if your friends stopped by.

Vacationing couple from Sunbury, PA

Vacationing couple from Sunbury, PA

A few highlights:

Good time for a vacation

A couple from Sunbury, PA took the four-hour drive west to Erie for the weekend, instead of vacationing on Maryland’s coast.

Why Erie? More to do, inexpensively, with nice people.

“There’s so much to do in Erie,” said the Sunbury woman. “In Maryland, you just have the boardwalk, and then nothing else, but here you have wine tours, the lake, and ships! And the people are just so nice.”

In town to vacation, they heard Tall Ships Erie was the weekend’s must-do event and stopped by to check it out.

The Lake Erie Pirahna's Cardboard Regatta team

The Lake Erie Pirahna's Cardboard Regatta team

Lake Erie Piranha

Fresh from the awards ceremony at the Cardboard Boat Regatta held behind the Erie Maritime Museum, the crew from Lake Erie Piranha came to visit the GoErie photo booth.

Although this troop from Erie and Pittsburgh only had three paddlers in the boat during race time, it was a nine person “group effort” that started putting their vessel together around 9 p.m. the night before. Even though their boat came in second slowest, they seemed happy to have completed the challenge.

If you want to see videos of the Cardboard Boat Regatta, check the video player to the right of the page for the seven heats held Saturday afternoon.

Tall Guys entertained with traditional and original sea shanties

Tall Guys entertained with traditional and original sea shanties

Tall Guys

The performance group, Tall Guys, came right off the main stage at the Erie Maritime Museum stage. Only formed a week ago, this group debuted their medley of traditional and original celtic and sea shanties at Tall Ships Erie.

This quintet from the greater Erie area features a wide array of instrumental talent: David Devwe on vocals and guitar, Tom Willsinson on the bodhran and shoes, Mike Hampsey on the mandolin, Don Wisniewski on the accordion, and Don Dombrowski on the dobro.

Adorable visitors to the GoErie photo booth

Adorable visitors to the GoErie photo booth

Too cute for words

And this duo was just too cute—I’m pretty sure this picture’s next the definition for “adorable” in the dictionary.

Tall Ships Erie lasts from 12-6 this Sunday. Day passes are available while ticket supplies last, so be sure to come down early if you want to make sure you tour a ship. Lines can become long waits—at one point lines at the HMS Bounty were taking two hours to rotate visitors through. Lines at the Niagara are the festival’s shortest—it can take aboard more people at a time since it’s a larger vessel—at 20-30 minute wait.

While you’re at the festival, come visit us at the GoErie photo booth to ensure your picture gets into our photo galleries. Before you go, make sure you check back here for the latest updates on tickets, weather, crowds, and more.

Posted in: Uncategorized

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