The 122-foot 19th century wood schooner was a peculiar sight on the city's waterfront Friday, surrounded by a small fleet of modern yachts and sport boats.
The Privateer Lynx, a replica of an 1812 American warship, attracted a crowd on the docks of Harborage Marina, with people snapping photos as the ship's impressive 94-foot masts grew nearer.
A few wondered aloud why the ship's regal sails were rolled up, but everyone was silenced when suddenly the vessel fired a broadside from its cast iron canons, shaking the concrete dock.
"You can just imagine back in the day with ship after ship pounding those off it would have been really something else," said Sandra Mitchell, a winter visitor from South Dakota.
The Lynx sailed from Fort Myers to Tampa Bay to take part in the Gasparilla Invasion Flotilla Saturday and will be docked at Harborage Marina Sunday through Wednesday.
The ship's 10-person crew will offer walking tours of the ship and afternoon sailing during its time in port.
Senior deck hand Jay Michelsen said the original Lynx was commissioned during the War of 1812 and made one voyage to France before being captured by the British in Virginia.
The replica's creator, Woodson Woods, followed the original designs to build the ship which is used as a sailing history museum.
"The original was very fast; she could get up to 18 knots, which at the time was one of the fastest speeds because a lot of the other ships were the heavy war ships," said Michelsen.
"When you think of 'Horatio Hornblower' or 'Master and Commander,' 'Pirates of the Caribbean' this ship could outmaneuver nearly all of them."
The Lynx has traveled up and down the coasts of North America and even as far as Hawaii, but Michelsen said this is its first trip to St. Petersburg.
If you go
WHAT: Tours of the Privateer Lynx, a replica of an 1812 American schooner
WHERE: Harborage Marina, 1110 Third Street S., St. Petersburg.
WHEN: Sunday through Wednesday
TICKETS: www.privateerlynx.com or 1-866-446-5969