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Published July 23, 2013, 10:28 AM

Lightning strike forces tall ship to bail on Duluth festival

After being pummeled by bad weather, one of the tall ships scheduled for Duluth’s tall ship festival this week has canceled its appearance.

After being pummeled by bad weather, one of the tall ships scheduled for Duluth’s tall ship festival this week has canceled its appearance.

The schooner Halie & Matthew recently survived wind, waves, a lightning strike and an on-board fire on the Great Lakes. While no one was injured, necessary repairs won’t be completed in time to finish the voyage to Duluth.

“It is with profound regret that the tall ship Halie & Matthew cannot fulfill its obligation to appear at Tall Ships Duluth 2013,” Capt. Bruce Randall said in a news release.

The 118-foot-long, two-masted gaff-rigged schooner had sold more than 1,000 tickets for two-hour sails. About 70 percent of those tickets can be redirected to other tall ships in the fleet.

TicketFly will contact the Halie & Matthew customers directly. Ticketholders will be able to request full refunds or they can make new reservations on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Thanks to the unbelievable goodwill of others in the tall ship community, including support from additional captains and crews, we are moving heaven and Earth,” said Terry Mattson, president and CEO of Visit Duluth and executive producer of the event. “Our heartfelt apologies for a scenario beyond anyone’s control.”

Tall Ships Duluth 2013 starts Thursday, with a grand parade of sail scheduled to start around 2 p.m. The Coaster II may arrive in Duluth on Wednesday. The Pride of Baltimore II, Privateer Lynx, S/V Denis Sullivan and Hindu will arrive before the parade of sail, then depart Duluth with passengers to take part in the parade of sail.

More than 250,000 people are expected to take part in the festival, which runs until Monday.

“One less tall ship in our fleet won’t deter the festival,” Mattson said.

The Halie & Matthew was launched in 2005. The U.S. Coast Guard allows it to carry 100 passengers on deck during the day and 30 passengers overnight in unrestricted water. Its home port is St. Petersburg, Fla.

Named after the children of her builder, George Harris of Eastport, Maine, the ship has a fiberglass hull and steel masts.

This is at least the second time lightning has struck the ship. Last year it was hit 50 miles off the coast of North Carolina, former co-owner Brian Nelson said Monday evening.

Further information on where or when the Halie & Matthew was damaged this time was not available Monday evening. Officials with Visit Duluth and the vessel could not be immediately reached for comment.

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