Tall ships on way for Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival

VISITORS to the Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival are in for a treat in September this year when not one, but two, tall ships sail into port for the 12th Maritime Festival on historic South Quay.

Flags and colourful bunting will be flying high from the masts of both the Oosterschelde and the JST Lord Nelson throughout the two-day festival, organised annually by the Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority, and taking place this year on September 10 and 11.

Festival-goers will be able to look round both ships as well as enjoying all the other entertainment.

The Oosterschelde is the only remaining three-masted Dutch topsail schooner, originally built in 1918 and painstakingly restored to her former glory in Rotterdam in the early 1990s.

A large, elegant ship, the Oosterschelde has a wooden panelled lounge-bar area and can carry up to 120 passengers. Named after the river Shelde, which runs from France to Holland through Belgium and splits into the eastern “ooster” and western Schelde in the Netherlands before reaching the sea, the Oosterschelde has seen a long and varied career on the high seas.

She started as a freighter, carrying all sorts of cargo from clay, stone and wood, to herring, bran, potatoes, straw and bananas; then joined a Danish fleet and was renamed the Fugeln. After this, she was purchased by a Swede, renamed Sylvan and converted into a modern motorised coaster.

The Oosterschelde returned to the Netherlands in 1988 where she was completely restored and refurbished with the help of her last Dutch captain and three maritime museums to ensure an authentic rebuild.

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Five passenger sailing trips will be available on this tall ship from Thursday, September 8, until Saturday, September 10. Sailing duration will be dependent on tide, but are scheduled to last from two to three or three to four hours. Tickets go on sale on Monday next week from 9.30am at Great Yarmouth Tourist Information Centre on 01493 332200.

Ken Sims, chairman of the Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority said: “Sailings on the Artemis and Mercedes at previous Maritime Festivals proved very popular with visitors who were keen to experience life under sail out on the high seas. The Oosterschelde is possibly the most magnificent of all the tall ships which have visited so far, and is sure to be a great asset to this year’s annual Maritime Festival.”

Also coming into port is the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s Lord Nelson, one of only two tall ships in the world that has been especially designed for a crew with a range of disabilities to sail.

Built over two years from 1984 to 1986 in three different locations, the Lord Nelson has taken over 24,000 people on voyages to ports all over the UK with more than 10,000 physically disabled crew members and nearly 5,000 wheelchair users, many of whom will have climbed the rigging.

The JST Lord Nelson will arrive in Yarmouth on September 9, and visitors will be able to go aboard her.

The festival will also feature music, street entertainment, arts, crafts, children’s activities and refreshments.

More information about this year’s festival will be released as contracts are signed and acts booked. www.maritime-festival.co.uk