CHICAGO (CBS) — Fourteen tall ships come sailing into Chicago this afternoon.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports singer/songwriter Tom Kastle — who has been in love with tall ships since he began working on them years ago — will emcee the “Parade of Sail,” when the ships move into Navy Pier at 2 p.m. Wednesday, and stay for the next few days.

He said they’re magnificent.

“The kind of ships you would imagine if you were thinking about Herman Melville or pirates or things like that,” Kastle said. “Some are basic attraction vessels that you come on board, and you tour the vessel. And some of them are also providing what we call ‘sail-aways,’ so you can get on board the Windy, or the Denis Sullivan, or several other ships, and actually go out for a sail.”

Chicago has a rich tradition with tall ships, starting around the time of the Civil War, according to Kastle.

“Back in the day, there were 200-300 ships here in Chicago. We were the fourth busiest sailing port in the western world,” he said. “Only New York, Hamburg, and London had more arrivals and departures; so we were sort of the O’Hare Airport of the tall ship back in those days.”

The Tall Ships come to Chicago every three years. They’ll be at Navy Pier through Sunday. To learn more about the ships, click here.

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