One tall ship too damaged to sail into Duluth for festival

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One of the ten tall ships expected to sail into Duluth on Thursday for the port's tall ship festival this week has been forced to cancel.

The Duluth News Tribune reports that the schooner Halie & Matthew was battered and damaged in a Great Lakes storm. A lightning strike sparked an on-board fire and repairs won’t be completed in time to finish the voyage to Duluth.

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

Tall Ships Duluth 2013 starts Thursday, with a grand parade of sail scheduled to start around 2 p.m. More than 250,000 visitors are expected to take part in the festival, which runs to Monday.

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The News Tribune reports tourism officials are in talks with about 25 vessels to see which can attend the July 2013 festival. Nine ships and about 225,000 fans were part of the event two years ago. Visit Duluth President and CEO Terry Mattson says no vessels have committed to the festival yet, but expects that to change soon.