TAMPA — Three iconic tall ships from the United States, Uruguay and Colombia will sail into Tampa Bay on Saturday morning for a festival that lasts through Wednesday.
Visitors can tour the ships and talk to sailors after they dock at the Tampa Convention Center.
Tours of the U.S.C.G. Eagle, a nearly 300-foot, three-masted barque based in Connecticut, will be free. Tours of the two other ships will cost $10 for adults and $3 for children.
Organizer Troy Manthey, president and chief executive of Yacht Starship Dining Cruises, called the event "a once-in-a-lifetime event for a lot of folks."
The ships' parade into town is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at Beer Can Island. From there they sail through the Seddon Channel and arrive at the Convention Center between 11:45 a.m. and noon, organizers said.
Manthey said the ships were in the Gulf of Mexico for a bicentennial celebration of all the Latin American countries that ended in Mexico in early June.
"That presented an opportunity for us," Manthey said. "It doesn't happen often."
The last time tall ships came to town was in 2002 for a St. Petersburg event called "America's Sail." Before that, the ships hadn't been in the bay area since the '80s, Manthey said.
He said organizers expect thousands of people to show up.
The U.S.C.G. Eagle was built in the 1930s for the German navy during World War II and is now used for training. Uruguay's 205-foot Capitan Miranda, built around the same time, was originally used for cartographic surveys. The 249-foot Gloria, from Colombia, was completed in 1968 and used as navy training ship.
The ships will be available from docking time Saturday until 5 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday. The Eagle, which is scheduled to depart at 2 p.m. Tuesday, is open for tours from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. that day. The Captain Miranda and Gloria will be available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday. There is a closing ceremony Wednesday.