Photo Friday: The Vikings Are Coming (and Tall Ships)

The Redpath Waterfront Festival took place last weekend, bringing a bunch of tall ships to Toronto for the long weekend. It was also Canada Day and the culmination of Pride. There was a lot of fun things to do, but I veered towards the lake and the tall ships.

The Canadian Navy was there, escorting the ships on their Great Lakes tour.(click photos to embiggen)

I worked my way from east to west along the harbourfront, taking in the ships. There were some school ships taking part and as usual when that term is uttered, I turned a nice shade of chartreuse with envy. I’ve always wanted to go on a school ship. 

But let’s face it, it doesn’t matter what kind of tall ship we’re talking about, I want to be on it. Although there were tours of the ships, these types of conveyances don’t tend to be all that accessible, so I had to settle for looking admiringly on from the shore. I picked up an audiobook for the weekend called Sails on the Horizon, which made it almost possible to pretend that I was on a ship during the Napoleonic wars.

In addition to the more traditionally included tall ships, there was also a Spanish galleon. I’ve seen photos of these, but never one in person. Compared to the other types of ships, it’s huge! It had several decks and a lot of rigging.

Things got extra real during the Parade of Sails on the last day. As the ships get ready to leave, they sail back and forth in the harbour so you can see them actually sailing, rather than being moored. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of wind, so that meant not a lot of sails, but it was still pretty amazing. And in the middle of it all, the American ship fired its cannons!

Well, it wasn’t exactly a full broadside, there wasn’t cannonballs involved (I think), and I’m pretty sure it was used to signal the other ships, but it did add some verisimilitude to the whole thing.

Much as I love me a tall ship, the real reason I was there was the Viking ship.

The Draken Harald HÃ¥rfagre is the most authentic Viking longboat built in over 1000 years. When it came to put out a call for a crew, 4000 people applied for 33 positions. All of them are probably a bit crazy, but had I been able, I would’ve been one of them. The Draken sailed from Norway in April, stopping in Iceland, Greenland and then going on to North America, stopping in Newfoundland, just like the real Vikings did.

And it is a beautiful ship. It also smells really good, the aromas of wood and tar hitting your nostrils as you are next to it. . Unfortunately I couldn’t get close enough to sniff it, as apparently is my wont when I see a Viking ship.

The ship is incredible, with intricate detailing, and every part of it showing the excellent craftsmanship that went into building it.

There were also some real Vikings.

Best of all, though, was seeing the Draken under sail, doing what it was supposed to do: invading other countries gliding through the water, the fire breather leading the way.

And just in case that between the cannons and invading Vikings things got out of hand, the Toronto Fire Department’s fire rescue boat provided a beautiful spectacle of what it could do. Which included adding a rainbow, very timely given that it was the day of the Pride Parade.

If you get a chance to see the tall ships, I recommend you go. It’s a real treat.


Rick said…
Very beautiful Lene', and happy Canada day.

Dawn S said…
There are organizations that make (or are working on making) tall ship sailing accessible to wheelchair users.I would love to do this myself. One is in the UK and also this US based group is still fund raising.