Posted by: mdmusingsie | June 5, 2017

Riverfest, 2017

I had just been to the theatre to see the latest installment of Pirates of the Caribbean – Salazar’s Revenge (or Dead Men Tell No Tales depending on which side of the pond you’re on), it was only fitting that I visit some tall ships in person.  It just so happened that Riverfest was on this weekend in the Dublin Docks.

These majestic boats are a sight to behold.  Just as we continue to ponder how a metal tube can fly through the sky, it’s no less wondrous that such large wooden boats float so gracefully across the water.

The first ship I came upon was The Pelican built in 1948, originally as an Arctic trawler. It has been modernized since and can produce its own fresh water and has an on-board sewage treatment facility. Like most of the boats on display it’s now a training ship for would-be sailors.

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Next up was The Earl of Pembroke, also built in 1948.  It is a three mast ship, built to resemble Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavor. It has featured in such films as Alice in Wonderland, Alice through the Looking Glass, Cloud Atlas, and Treasure Island.  Getting below deck required a bit of climbing with nary a hand-rail to be found.

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Built as a replica of Peter the Great’s 1703 ‘man-of-war’, The Shtandart was the most impressive in design and decoration, reflecting the days of old.  However, it was only built in 1999 so it has as many modern conveniences as are plausible for a ship, and carried a pontoon-style motor boat for shore excursions.

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A busy year for shipbuilding, we return to 1948, where I met The Kaskelot built in Denmark as a trading ship, it now sports a traditional three mast Barque double topsail.  This ship has featured in a number of movies including Treasure Island, The Three Musketeers, David Copperfield, and Shackleton.

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I almost had to laugh when I saw the name of the next boat – Maybe.  Built in Amsterdam in 1929, the ship was taken to the Dutch town of Jut during the Second World War and hidden in the mud in a remote backwater.  It’s not only a training ship but a frequent participant in the Tall Ship races.



Of course the phrases that popped into my head as I thought about the name included: Maybe you can be a sailor, Maybe this really does float, Maybe you’ll make it back to port, Maybe you won’t drown, Maybe you won’t spend the journey heaving over the rail, I could go on forever.  I’m sure they hear it all the time.

Another smaller but no less impressive boat was The Phoenix, another Danish-built boat used first a Mission Schooner then as a cargo ship.  It also has been featured in a number of films and documentaries.


Ketch or two masted trading vessel, The Bessie Ellen rounded out the featured tall ships.  Built in 1904 in Devon, UK, it was primarily used for transporting clay, peat, and other cargo between the UK and Ireland.


Bessie Ellen

Getting below board is not an easy task – handrails appear optional.


To keep the kiddies occupied, there was also an array of carnival rides, plus a chance to practice rock climbing, and a zip-line.  Street performers included a pirate on stilts as well as a tight rope walker.  Plenty of food and drink options rounded off the festival.  There was certainly something for everyone and a perfect day out.

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My only regret is not seeing the ships in their full glory with the sails down, catching the breeze as they sail the seven seas in search of adventure.


Everyone wanted to be a pirate today


One of Captain Jack’s mates is missing his/her hat – check the Luas station

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