This isn't the way the captain of the world's second-largest tall ship wanted to make his entrance into Charleston Harbor.

The Kruzenshtern limped into harbor Monday morning with a broken foremast, suffered during a fierce thunderstorm nearly halfway through its trip from Bermuda to Charleston for this week's Harbor Fest.

The top of the 376-foot-long ship's lower foremast snapped, causing the topmast to break off and damage the attached booms and rigging, said Brad Van Liew, executive director of the South Carolina Maritime Foundation.

No one was hurt when the mast broke, but the Russian vessel was forced to retire from the third leg of the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge, a trans-Atlantic regatta that started in Vigo, Spain.

Just two days before the Kruzenshtern's 80th birthday celebration, it was docked at the Union Pier Passenger Terminal. The captain and crew sat in the blistering sun waiting for the ship to be moved to the pier's south end, where a 175-ton crane is required to dismantle the broken foremast and rigging.

The first concern was to get the ship's crew of more than 300 settled and through U.S. Customs.

Unable to assess the extent of the damage, Capt. Michael Novikov declined to comment on his ship's situation.

The Kruzenshtern, a four-masted barque, is expected to be one of Harbor Fest's major attractions. If repairs go as planned, the ship should be ready in time for the festival events, which start Thursday and continue through Monday. Eighteen tall ships will stop in Charleston as part of the event.

The tall ships also are part of the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge, which travels to five ports before finishing in August in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The ships will head to Boston after Harbor Fest.

The Kruzenshtern was one of two ships forced to retire from the regatta because of mishaps. The other was the Spirit of Bermuda. According to fleet-tracking results, the Russian ship was making swift progress and ranked third overall following the second leg of the regatta.

Another ship, the Pride of Baltimore II, also arrived Monday in Charleston under sail. That ship is in second position overall in the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge.

Most of the vessels will be moored at docks for the public to visit during Harbor Fest. In addition to tall ships, the festival will offer air and land activities, boat building and children's activities as well. For information visit


For updated information about the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge, the ships, their crews and tracking the vessels visit . For tickets and more information, go to .

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Charleston Harbor Fest, published 6/21/2009

Harbor Fest 2009 Schedule, , published 6/21/2009