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  • Articles by Mary

    The Tall Ships at Greenwich

    The tall ships have come and gone.  For two days they moored at Greenwich and Woolwich and on Easter Sunday they sailed away to Portugal, bound for Boston and then Quebec.  While on the Thames they ferried the public up and down while fed us cakes and tea, took us to watch river fireworks, and gave us short explanatory tours.  


    The ships last came to London in 2014 and are due to return to Sunderland in 2018.  But why? What are they and what do they do?  


    Like stately homes, steam railways, and dray horses they are beautiful, nostalgic relics of our past.  As a naval nation Britain’s tall ships (large traditionally rigged sailing vessels) established our world wide trading empire, and our political and economic influence. But no more.  Now these ships fill our need for connection with our past and for vigorous physical challenges.  


    The tall ships are now a sport.  There are tall ship regattas all over the world which provide challenging sailing experiences, for a fee, which last from a few days to several months.  Many are focused on young people, to enhance their character devopment and skill levels, in the way of mountain climbing, or extreme sports.   Some are charitably based and indeed Greenwich Borough sponsered a group of disadvantaged young people to continue the trip from Greenwich to Portugal with this years regatta.  Many of the young people had never been on a boat before. Other tall ships are professionally crewed and kitted out to provide a luxuary sailing experience as part of tours to exotic destinations.


    Perhaps we should think of the ships in evolutionary terms.  They are not be what they once were.  They do not drive the economy and Jack Sparrow might find their itineraries a bit bland. But they continue to exist, to be beautiful, and to give pleasure to many, including the folk at Greenwich this Easter.   

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