A tall armada regales California

It may have seemed like the Spanish Armada was invading California last week when a slew of ships sailed down the coast. With billowing white sails and streaming colors, the ships, throwbacks to another era, helped to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Golden State.

Thousands thronged to the Rainbow Port in Long Beach and the US Naval Weapons Station in nearby Seal Beach to get a close-up view of the first foreign fleet of tall ships to sail along the West Coast this century.

Visitors were allowed on board where they were able to talk to crews, explore the cabins, and see firsthand what life is like on the deck of a masted ship. A fireworks display on Saturday night added to the festivities.

In the first leg of Sail California 1999, 13 tall-mast ships from around the world left San Francisco Bay on July 2 and sailed more than 400 miles to Long Beach, near Los Angeles. After arriving July 9, the ships moored for the weekend. On Tuesday, the ships completed their journey with a historic parade into San Diego Harbor

The ships rendezvoused at Point Loma in San Diego before the final grand parade into the city's harbor.

The fleet included the Dewa Ruci from Indonesia, the Guayas from Ecuador, and the Gloria from Colombia. Ships from Canada and India also took part in the parade.

The Nautical Heritage Society in Long Beach, as well as volunteers from across the state, helped raise money for the event.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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