The Waterford Tall Ships Festival (WSTF) was held from June 30, 2011 to July 03, 2011 in Ireland. This was a grand excuse for NAUTICAL LOG to return home for a visit and we spent two weeks in Ireland visiting with relatives, contacting old shipmates and friends.
The ships starting arriving on Wednesday some coming upriver to berth at the floating pontoons on the South Quays of the Port of Waterford. The Armada de Columbia Gloria was anchored off Dunmore East earlier coming to berth at the North Quays on the afternoon tide with her Waterford Harbour Commission Pilot. By Thursday evening just about all the vessels had arrived ready to party!! There was some disappointment in Waterford that not so many of the larger Tall Ships were in port as the previous time. This was due to several reasons the Germans were not represented at all due to their sail training programme being in disarray. Due to piracy concerns and local politics the Arabian nations also had no representation and neither did Indonesia, an extremely popular crew in Waterford. In a classic piece of diplomatic confusion, which seems par for the course with the current U.S. Administration, the United States was absent. The USCG Eagle having visited the Port of Waterford a month ahead of the WSTF; why? well y'all will have to ask the United States Coast Guard to answer that one. They should know that we Waterford nautical people were not particularly pleased about their decision.
A large section of the City was closed to traffic with a very well organized Park and Ride system and hundreds of booths lined both sides of the river with thousands of tables and chairs. There was food, drink, crafts, sailing organisations. Throughout the City in several locations there were free concerts and musical groups playing from noon to late at night. The Garda Siochána, Civil Defence Units, Coast Guard, Waterford Fire Service, Knights of Malta and numerous volunteers kept things fun and remarkably clean with the thousands of people from all over Ireland visiting Waterford for the three day Festival. Whatever social and economic problems Ireland is currently having the level of volunteerism is outstanding, the Festival volunteers did a remarkable job deserving of the highest praise and thanks.
Sunday morning as soon as the fog burnt off signalling a nice sunny day the LÉ Aoife P22 let go at 0745 and headed downriver. Immediately the various Tall Ships also cast off and followed her towards the Waterford Harbour Estuary to assemble off the Hook Lighthouse ready for the Race start at 1600. By 0930 the Tall Ships were gone and a strange quietness settled over the Quays.
Time to catch the bus to Dunmore East and watch them preparing to Race, the streets are open again to traffic, the bus is waiting as usual at the Clock Tower, things are back to normal.
Please let us not forget our fellow seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia.