Friday, July 8, 2016


You knew it was going to happen. The invasion. After all, we're Canada, replete with natural resources, gateway to the Arctic, home of Poutine and the double double. Come on, who wouldn't invade to get all that.

Not surprising that it would happen on Canada Day. What was surprising is the form that the invasion took. Ships; OK not a shock but ships with sails. Really tall sails

Yes, the Tall Ships. Gosh Vic that was so clever. Shut up, it's 2 in the morning here

It's been three years since the tall ships were last in Toronto. They brought three ships with them this year and moored them along the quay at H20 Park right beside the Harbourfront Centre. One of them has been here before. The Pride of Baltimore II is a topsail schooner sailing out of .. wait for it .. Baltimore and is a reproduction of an 1812 era vessel

OK, I know it's a schooner but its rakish design and its size and the fact that it was out of Baltimore, kind of made me think of a rum runner

The Pride of Baltimore is a big ship, 157 feet all in, but it was dwarfed by the ship next to which is was moored. El Galeon is an entirely accurate, to scale, reproduction of a 16th century Spanish galleon

This thing is massive, Collette described it "a wall of ship" and it's true. On a sunny day, stand beside the middle of the hull and it just blocked out the sky

Just as shocking as the Spirit of Baltimore being from Baltimore I was gobsmacked to learn that this Spanish galleon is from .. gasp .. Spain!

She boasts over 10,000 square feet of rigging with the tallest rigging reaching up 121 feet. And her crew being Spaniards, they just saw all this rigging as a jungle gym from which they could wave at pretty girls

The El Galeon was the largest ship on the quay but the one that caught my eye was only a fraction of its size. But size doesn't matter .. er .. we're talking about ships, right?

The Draken Harald is a longship, the largest replica longship built in modern times. Sailing out of Norway, it looks like something Ragnar Logthbruk could disembark from

The crew who built this ship is following their Viking ancestors by sailing her from Norway to Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland then Toronto. She is pretty accurate, no below decks, the crew sleep and cooked inside a tent pitched on the main deck which also provided their only shelter during the Atlantic crossing

The highlight of the day was the sail by. The three visiting tall ships, accompanied by some of the tall ships and brigantines who regularly dock in the harbour and one of the Canadian Navy frigates that had come down for the festival, sailed out into he western gap, regrouped, came back down into the inner harbour, turned and smiled back west, passing fairly close by the quays along Harbourfront

Most of the ships were under full sail. For some reason El Galeon was not but she still made a pretty big impression.

It was great to see the Baltimore and the Canadian brigantines in the harbour under full sail, tacking into the wind, the sheets fluttering, lines pulled taut under the ancient engine of the wind

I have to say, that Viking ship was incredibly impressive. One of the smaller boats, her single red sail was massive, changing colour as the sun hit it, you can see that sail for miles and you could see the power in it, its simple design, pushing its boat to places that few in that time had ever dreamed

As many of the ships passed they gave us a little salute with their deck guns. I was hoping that El Galeon would open her hatches and have her cannons make us feel like the Aztecs did but hey, they would just be cruel

The Navy frigate gave us a blast or two with its impressive and rather scary deck gun. I admit, I may have peed a little. While I change my pants, here's the video
Tall Sails in the Harbour: Toronto Tall Ships Festival 2016 from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

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