Vagabonding Field Report: Coasting through Philadelphia’s Tall Ship Festival

On July 6th, 2015

This week I spent time at a Philadelphia festival for tall ships. Walking above and below decks filled me with awe as I visited a variety of tall ships. Some of these tall ships were over a century old while others are brand new.

The festival starts with all the ships sailing into Philadelphia’s waterfront entering the city like conquering heroes to the cheers of thousands of people. I was luckily enough to get to sail in on Gazela, a century old Barkentine.

 Tall Ships Picton


Tourist can visit the Philadelphia’s tall ship festival for relatively inexpensively. The price of admission to the festival is eight dollars. However, there is an option of buying a sixteen dollar ticket that allows you to tour the decks of the ships.

There are vendors everywhere so you can buy lunch without ever leaving the festival.  People can experience the whole and eat for under thirty dollars.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

I haven’t seen anything strange lately. However, one of the best things I have seen at the festival is the variety of ships from the entire world.  At the festival, there were ships from all across the United States, and some from Europe including the brand new ship the La Hermione from France. She is a gorgeous ship.

Tall Ships Hermione

Describe a typical day:

During the festival, I was living on Gazela. A typical day living on Gazela entailed waking up in the ship’s hold, woofing down breakfast quickly, and heading on deck to answer any questions from people touring the ship.

Me one tall ships

After a few hours of answering questions, I would go explore the festival and check out the other ships for the rest of the day. Tall ships are magnificent and fascinating. This is why the festival has over 15,000 visitors.

Tell us about a particularly interesting conversation.

I had so many interesting conversations this week that it is hard to choose. One conversation that was inspiring to me came from an older gentleman who was asking me about ships.

He was asking about ships, and we got to talk about my travel blog. He was so shocked that I was living my dream and traveling the world. We talked for a while about traveling, and our favorite travel quotes. His encouragement to keep following my dreams was overwhelming and heartening.

 Describe a challenge you faced:

One challenge I faced this week is talking to people about ships. While I have learned a lot working on tall ships for the last three months, I have never had to explain how they work to others before.

A few times, I was stuck when certain questions were asked, but by the end of the week I became comfortable explaining my newest passion to eager listeners.  I even learned some new things about them myself.

Where next?

Next I am headed to Rhode Island where I will keep building and sailing the Oliver Hazard Perry.

Stephen Schreck is an adventure travel writer and founder of For the last three years he has been following his dream of traveling the world. You can follow his adventures on Instagram and Facebook.