Ahoy! Tall Ships Sail Back into Richmond

Steveston Tall Ships

A trio of classic tall ships, including a vessel conducting critical environmental research in the North Pacific, will be showcased when Ships to Shore Steveston 2012 returns to Richmond on the Canada Day weekend. From Friday, June 29 to Sunday, July 1 visitors can relive the days when Richmond’s Steveston Village was a major port-of-call for fleets of sailing ships from around the world with free boarding and viewing of a flotilla of unique and historic ships.

“You can’t see a tall ship without feeling a sense of excitement, adventure and discovery,” says Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “Steveston first welcomed tall ships more than 125 years ago and it is always an exciting moment when they return.”

Leading the way this year will be the 46-metre (151-foot) Kaisei, a California-based brigantine dedicated to scientific research. She is the figurehead for “Project Kaisei” an international program dedicated to implementing solutions to the problem of marine debris. The Kaisei is a frequent visitor to the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, a notorious area of the North Pacific where ocean currents and manmade discards have created an environmentally-threatening concentration of floating plastic debris. The Kaisei has also been tracking the debris float resulting from last year’s Japanese tsunami, another potential environmental threat. During the Kaisei’s visit to Richmond, visitors to the boat will not only be able to enjoy a magnificent tall ship, but also be able to learn about the important environmental research being conducted by the ship’s crew.

Joining the Kaisei will be two popular tall ships that are familiar visitors to Steveston, the majestic Hawaiian Chieftain and the Canadian Navy’s colourful HMCS Oriole. Also on view will be a pair of schooners, the Mallory Todd and Grail Dancer; the historic SS Master steam tug; the Carlotta, a cutter from Vancouver Island; the Silver Ann, a gillnetter currently being restored at the Britannia Heritage Shipyard; and, the Juanita, a replica Spanish longboat, saluting one of the original European explorers of the BC coast.

This year’s Ships to Shore event is moving right into the heart of Steveston Village. The ships will be docked at Imperial Landing, just a few paces along the wooden boardwalk from Bayview and No. 1 Road.

Steveston Tall Ships

Ships To Shore Steveston 2012 runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 29 and 30 and from 12:30 to 5 p.m. on July 1. Ship boarding is free, but space is limited and scheduled activities vary, so check out the website for boarding details and a schedule of events.

In addition to free public viewing and boarding, select ships will also be offering day sails and youth day camps. Last year’s day sails sold out quickly, so go to this website to register or call 604-276-4300 as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

This year’s event also coincides with another great free family festival. The new site is just a few minutes walking from Steveston Park, home of the 67th annual Steveston Salmon Festival, known as “Canada’s biggest little birthday party.” This year, the popular free Canada Day celebration includes a parade, children’s festival, food fair, fabulous entertainment, and the Salmon Festival’s signature salmon barbecue. As a special bonus, this year’s event has been expanded with the festival’s carnival rides also scheduled to be open on the afternoon of June 30.

Steveston’s two national historic sites, the Britannia Heritage Shipyard and the Gulf of Georgia Cannery will also be open throughout the Canada Day weekend. Drop by both to view great exhibits on the history of Canada’s West coast fishing industry and much more.

Parking in Steveston is limited and some road closures will be in place on Canada Day morning due to the Salmon Festival parade. Festival goers are encouraged to take transit, cycle or walk to avoid traffic and parking congestion.

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