At the end of May, a Tall Ships fleet met at Liverpool.
The Tall Ships had been here previously in 1984, 1992, 2008 and 2012. This year it was for the start of the Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta. From Liverpool, the Tall Ships fleet crossed to Dublin and then raced across the Bay of Biscay to Bordeaux to coincide with the wine festival there. About eighteen entrants were due to leave Liverpool and go twenty-two miles out to sea for the start of a race to Dublin around the top of the Isle of Man.
The two largest squareriggers at Liverpool were the French steel barque Belem and the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s Lord Nelson. The Belem was built in 1896 to trade with sugar from the West Indies and coca beans from South America. Because she is quite a small vessel, the Belem survived as a luxury yacht before becoming a sail training ship. The Lord Nelson was built at Wivenhoe in 1985 to have a crew of half able-bodied people and half handicapped. As wheelchairs would tip over at 12 degrees, the barque was designed not to heel any further than 10 degrees.
The smaller vessels were berthed in the Canning and Albert Docks at Liverpool. The most handsome of these was the French tops’l schooner Belle Poule, a naval training ship built in 1932 on the lines of the schooners that went cod fishing in Icelandic waters. The wooden tops’l schooner Atyla, built in 1984, is based in Spain, but sails under the Vanuatu flag. Roy Blain Kerr’s steel brigantine La Malouine, sister ship of the Lady of Avenel, sails under the French flag and does charter work from Gencaple on the River Nith on the Solway Firth.
The traditional vessels, normally based around the Albert Dock, include the schooner Kathleen & May that was reported to have gone to the Cammel Laird shipyard for repairs. The 1899 Baltic ketch Glaciere was up for sale, while the Baltic trader, brigantine Zebu, that had sunk there three years previously, was back afloat. Last year, the Zebu was sold to Garrith Borrett who, with help from a Lottery Grant and volunteers, is planning to get her back to sea.