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Morgenster Tall Ship on the Thames

Walking near to Westferry Circus, I saw the unmistakable sails of a tall ship and hurried to see which ship it was. To my surprise it was the Morgenster which reminded me of one of my great experiences from last year.

Morgenster was one of the ships taking part in the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta and I was fortunate to be invited to take a trip on the Morgenster 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 a wonderful experience.

There was something special about being under sail even in the safe confines of the Thames, before I get carried away it is worth mentioning that for the crew it is more hard work bringing down the sails and carrying out various duties. It did give me some insight into how much work would be involved sailing one of these ships across the Atlantic.

The Morgenster or  (Morning Star in Dutch) is a sail training ship based in the Netherlands. She was originally built, as a herring lugger under the name De Vrouw Maria, in 1919. In 1927, she was converted into a motor fishing vessel. She was renamed Morgenster in 1959 and continued to be used as a fishing vessel until 1970. After a period of use for sport fishing and a pirate radio station, she was converted back to a sailing vessel in 1983. She made her maiden voyage as a sail training ship in 2008, having been refitted as a brig.

She certainly looked a magnificent sight as she meandered her way along the Thames on her way to Tower Bridge.


Tall Ships Festival Firework Display by L Katiyo

One of the popular aspects of the Tall Ships Festival is the evening firework displays, even from the top of the Island they looked more spectacular than normal this year.

Fortunately, regular contributor L. Katiyo was on hand to get some photographs of the evening’s display.

The Tall Ship Festivals are a wonderful celebration of all things maritime and are enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people over the four days.

We are fortunate on the Island to be surrounded on three sides by the Thames which gives us wonderful views of the various maritime events.

The river seemed very quiet after the last few days and we can now look forward to the next event.

Congratulations to all involved for another amazing event that pays homage to London’s maritime past and provides opportunities for young people to undertake adventures of a lifetime.


The Thames Trafalgar Race 2015


Photo L Katiyo

Yesterday on a misty Thames , regular contributor L Katiyo managed to take a few photos of the Thames Trafalgar Race, the race is not as well known as other river races but provides an interesting test for the competitors.


Photo L Katiyo

The race, which is in its third year, is the brainchild of round-the-world-sailor, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and is organised jointly by the Little Ship Club and Erith Yacht Club. Held over two days, the unique event is open to all types and sizes of yachts both racing and cruising.


Photo L Katiyo

The first days racing starts just below Tower Bridge and carries competitors downriver to the Queen Elizabeth Bridge stopping at the Erith Yacht Club for the Saturday evening’s Trafalgar Dinner. The return leg finishes outside Greenwich Naval College on the Sunday.


Photo L Katiyo

Some knowledge of the river is a great advantage in the race that offers the rare opportunity to race sailing boats competitively on the Thames.


Photo L Katiyo

The finish at Greenwich Naval College on the Sunday is very appropriate considering part of the race is to honour the Battle of Trafalgar and Lord Nelson.

Thames Historic Barge Rowing Race – 4th July 2015


Every summer there is the sight of crews guiding 30 tons barges along the Thames with a large flotilla, this unusual event is the Thames Historic Barge Rowing Race .


This year is the 40th running of this prestigious and unique London  rowing event which was founded in 1975 by a charity called The Transport On Water Association (TOW).


The race consists of about 12 teams of between 4 and 8 members who drive (steer and row) 30 ton barges over a seven mile course for about 90 minutes from Greenwich to Westminster Bridge.


Although it is seen as  a  fun event, it does have more serious objectives,  it commemorates the skills of lightermen who moved freight this way along the Thames up until the 1930s, it hopes to encourage  interest in moving cargo via water and  highlights the need to recruit younger people back into river trades.


Piloting 30 tonnes unpowered barges just with oars riding the  tidal river currents is a major undertaking.


The effort to travel along the river with such a large barge is considerable and is a real test of strength and the ability to read the river.


If you would like to find out more about Thames historic barges, visit their website here

Greenwich Tall Ship Festival Fireworks by L Katiyo


Photo by L Katiyo

With  the Greenwich  Tall Ship Festival coming to its conclusion today, it may be time to reflect on one of its highlights.


Photo by L Katiyo

Every night of the festival there has been spectacular firework displays  which have entertained the crowds.


Photo by L Katiyo

Regular contributor  L Katiyo  joined the crowds to watch Greenwich light up the London skies.


Photo by L Katiyo

Just a reminder that the festival finale , The Parade of Sail takes place today, when all of the Tall Ships that have come to Royal Greenwich for the Tall Ships Festival take to the Thames together .

The ships will gather near Maritime Greenwich at around 12 noon, before departing eastwards in the Parade of Sail along the Thames towards Tilbury from around 1.30pm.

  • The first ship will leave Greenwich at around 1.30pm.
  • It is then expected to cross Woolwich at about 2.30pm.
  • It can take as much as two hours for all the ships to pass a particular point on the river


Photo by L Katiyo


The Great River Race 2013


Often people complain about the Thames being quiet and under used, the recent events like the Tall ships at Woolwich and Greenwich and the start of the Clipper round the World race have challenged those assumptions. Today we have yet another event that will see the Thames full of boats of many different shapes and sizes.


Many people will be familiar with the role that the isle of Dogs plays in the London Marathon, however many may not be aware that it is the starting point for the “River Marathon” better known as  The Great River Race.


The Great River Race  is a 21 mile spectacular boat race up the River Thames that attracts over 300 crews from all over the globe and thousands of spectators. The race starts at Millwall Dock slipway and finishes in Ham in Surrey, what adds to the enjoyment is the varied types of boats taking part  which have included  in the past an Hawaiian outrigger war canoe, Viking longboat, Norwegian scow, Canadian C-8 canoe, Chinese dragon boats, magnificent replica 54′ bronze age Greek galley and numerous Cornish pilot and other gigs, skiffs and cutters.


Because the race is run on a handicap system all types of boats and crew can take part and have equal chance to win. When the race was first run in 1988 there were 72 boats, this has now grown to 300 boats representing most parts of the UK and other crews from around the world.


To acknowledge its status as the biggest event of its kind in Europe it has been included in The Mayor’s Thames Festival, which offers 10 days of Thames themed  entertainments.




Lighting up the River – Thames Barge Driving Race 2013


It is always a pleasure to see the river full of traffic, and today we saw the Thames Barge Driving Race passing past the Isle of Dogs.


The race consists of about 12 teams of between 4 and 8 members who drive (steer and row) 30 ton barges over a seven mile course for about 90 minutes from Greenwich to Westminster Bridge.


As well as the barges there is a flotilla of other boats that follow the action.

It is  38th running of this annual event. Set up in 1975 by a charity called The Transport On Water Association (TOW) with the backing of Members of Parliament and Members of the House of Lords.


​The event celebrates the skill of lighterman who moved large amounts of cargo in unpowered barges.

It takes a great deal of river craft navigating a 30 tonne barge in the Thames river currents and the race was created to encourage young people to consider working on the river.

The teams are usually made up by employees of Thames lighterage companies, Port of London Authority  and other Thames organisations.


Interested spectator