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The One To Watch: Tall Ships

Ahoy shipmates. The Tall Ships fleet is back in the city for the first time since 1992. So what's the story?

Published on July 19th 2008.

The One To Watch: Tall Ships

OK, what’s it all about, then?
Only the biggest gathering of ships in Liverpool since, ooh, let me see . . .

. . . the last meeting of the full city council?
I said “ships". Oh, never mind. The point is, Liverpool is the host port for the start of this year’s Tall Ships Race and, to mark the occasion, there is a four-day maritime jubilee expected to attract up to a million people to the waterfront.

Who’s coming to the party?
One of the biggest fleets ever. With up to 60 tall ships from over 30 countries, including Russia and Uruguay, there will be ample opportunity to climb aboard and familiarise yourself with the bilge, all manner of gaffs and a pile of anchors.

I thought you said this had nothing to do with our city leaders?
Cheeky. I’m talking nautical here, shipmate. If you want to impress your friends during the long weekend of festivities – July 18 to 21 – you’ll need to know your boom vang from your spanker-mast.

So, if it’s not a stupid question, what is a tall ship?
It is. But if you’ve ever seen an episode of the Onedin Line (they did that in Liverpool, too) you’ll get the idea. Square-riggers, schooners, brigs, brigantines, ketches, yawls, cutters and sloops, they’ll all be there – from 30ft to more than 300ft long.

Where are they all going to park?
Berth, you berk. The majority of the Class A vessels will be in the Wellington and Sandon half-tide docks, a little north of the city centre. The smaller class B, C and D vessels will be berthed at Albert, Salthouse, Canning and Canning half-tide docks. Expect delays, say the AA, but once you get there, jump aboard.

All the nice girls love a sailor
Yes, and there will be plenty to be had. Plus a full programme of events until 10pm each night, including sea-themed street entertainment, lots for the kids at Albert Dock, displays and music galore.

Gigging in the rigging?
And a fair amount of jigging at the International Shanty Festival, a showcase of maritime music and song being held as part of the weekend’s festivities.

Wow, I can’t wait for the race to begin – all those ships bombing up the Mersey. It’ll be like Edge Lane in the rush hour.
Ah, well . . . Ahem!

What’s the matter?
Well, the race doesn’t actually start in Liverpool. That happens somewhere off

Northern Ireland a couple of days later. However, the ships will take part in a spectacular parade of sail up the river, starting on Monday at 2pm and lasting up to one and a quarter hours.

It's all down to the Pier Head then?
Don't be daft. Visitors can't get anywhere near the Pier Head this year. You can see it all from by the Britannia Pub and Riverside Drive, in uninterrupted splendour on the Sefton coastline, but the best views will be gained from the Wirral.

Hmm? Surely, when you’ve seen one tall ship, you’ve seen ‘em all?
Barbarian! This is a rare chance to see the biggest and most beautiful masted ships in the world being put through their paces in, to quote Councillor Bradley, “a show-stopping centrepiece of Capital of Culture celebrations”.

What, better than Cilla in panto?
We’ll have to see, but if any of the ships have cats, they could try doing Puss in Boats.

What’s it all in aid of?
The charity Sail Training International which organises the Tall Ships races, provides thousands of young people (and some old ones) with a life-changing adventure, instilling them with self-confidence and a sense of responsibility.

Who else benefits?
Collectors from the RNLI will be out rattling their boxes, plus there is the inevitable corporate and civic hospitality.

All the usual freeloaders, then?
Natch. They’d better go easy, though. A couple of shanties followed by a few shandies and they could end up being serenaded by the local constabulary to the tune of What Shall We Do With the Drunken Wassailer?

Do say:
"The fleet's lit up!"

Don't say:
"Do Capita Symonds know about this?"

Tall Ships Race, Friday-Sunday July 18-20 for boarding, 10am-10pm. Parade of sail, Monday July 21, 2pm.


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7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

DigJuly 16th 2008.

I recommend The Coburg. I frequent there after work with my Cyberman helmet on. It's glued on. Bit like C.H. on Ideal.

Salty Sea DogJuly 16th 2008.

Not me sou'wester, then?

Salty SamJuly 16th 2008.

Can the jolly tars of Liverpool Confidential recommend some dockside tavern or six? A berth where a shipmate might splice the mainbrace with some landlubbers to give them their sea-legs when we have a run ashore at 1700hrs on Friday? The flatulent Pump House will no doubt be pumped full to the gunwhales with pumpers and snotties, so don't give us that load of old rowlocks!

Confidential teamJuly 16th 2008.

The Baltic Fleet. To protect anonymity and, yet, for instant recognition in these instances, we suggest that everybody purchase and wear a Cyberman voice changing helmet.

DigJuly 16th 2008.

Can somebody answer my question about ships. Is the officers mess and poop deck what I think it is? The great thinker Homer (Simpson) planted those questions in my conscience. All hail Homer.

Seaman StainesJuly 16th 2008.

Normal landlubbers get the sack for cocking-up at work, but not this lot! They'll be paying themselves 'performance-related bonuses' next! And "Deputy Lord Mayor" - you couldn't make this stuff up!

Roger the Cabin BoyJuly 16th 2008.

Nice to see that all these million visitors to our city will be greeted today to another local, childish and undignified playground spat among the council ranks which is unfortunately all over the Daily Post. What must people think?

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