The Tall Ships Festival returns to Cleveland this weekend for the first time since 2013 and is expected to bring 60,000 people to the shores of Lake Erie.
Cleveland is the second port of call for the 11 replica and restored vessels from around the world participating in "The Great Lakes 2019 Race."
Erin Short with the Tall Ships Challenge says events like this promote the waterfront, which in many cities, is underutilized.
“Having these events shows cities that people want to come down to the waterfront,” said Short. "They want to hang out. They want to enjoy their city and they want to be proud of their city.”
Employment in maritime jobs is up 20 percent nationwide, according to a PriceWaterhouse Coopers study, but it is an industry with an aging workforce, even in Northeast Ohio.
Phil Watson, captain of the schooner Bluenose II, says the key to the industry’s sustainability is recruiting middle or high schoolers while they’re learning basic skills.
“Math is important. We do distance equals speed times time to figure out how far we're going to go and when. Water consumption is another thing that we we use. So, we use things like math all the time," he said. "My writing skills have to be fairly strong because I'm expected to do social media or write a captain's blog or to write reports.
Tall Ships events are a good way to introduce children to the industry, Watson said.
The next stop for the tall ships will be Bay City, Michigan, with races happening through all five Great Lakes this summer.
This story is part of American Graduate: Getting to Work, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.