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Sailing on a Tall Ship down the Thames

On the eve of the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, I was fortunate to be invited to take a trip on one of the Tall Ships on the Thames from Woolwich to Greenwich.

Whilst I have seen a lot of Tall Ships in West India Dock and at Greenwich and occasionally been on board to have a look around, actually sailing on a ship down the Thames was to be novel experience.

Many of the Tall Ships for the Regatta are berthed at Woolwich and provide a wonderful sight that is perhaps a reminder of past especially in the West India and East India Docks.

Travelling down the river offers a very different perspective on familiar sights and after passing the Thames Barrier, I began to scan the riverside for familiar landmarks.

Not surprisingly, the lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf grabbed my attention before we approached the O2 and the Emirates Airline cable car overhead.

The familiar skyline of Canary Wharf dominated the next stretch but I was surprised how the familiar buildings on the riverfront took on a completely different aspect, even the Blue Bridge which is the entrance to West India Dock looked quite small from the river.

Travelling around the bends of the river, new viewpoints appeared quickly until the stately outline of Greenwich came into view and the masts of the Cutty Sark.

With a number of Tall Ships in the river at this point, you did not need a lot of imagination to go back in time when the river was full of ships of all descriptions.

It was not just the views that takes your interest, watching the crew bringing down the sails and carrying out various duties gives a little insight into how much work will be involved sailing one of these ships across the Atlantic.

Which is the destination of many of the boats after the Regatta in Greenwich and Woolwich, the regatta, organised by Sail Training International, will sail from Greenwich to Quebec in Canada, to mark the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. A fleet of over 30 large Class A and B Tall Ships will sail for Canada via Sines in Portugal, Bermuda and Boston.

If you are in London and would a trip down the Thames on a Tall Ship, some cruises will be available over the weekend or you visit some ships which will be open for visitors to get on board to look around and talk to the crew.

Two Tall Ships festival villages are open at the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site in Greenwich town centre, and the Royal Arsenal riverside in Woolwich.

The most spectacular part of the Regatta will take place on Sunday when the huge Parade of Sail starts at 5pm from Deptford Creek, during the Parade of Sail, the whole Tall Ships fleet will sail together down the Thames to the sea, before crossing the Atlantic and arriving in Quebec on 18 July 2017.

If you would like to find out more, visit the Royal Greenwich website here

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