Tall ships are now heading in large numbers to Lerwick, with the Norwegian class B ship Auno likely to be the first arrival.
Other ships close to the port are the British class A ship Lord Nelson, which may the the first of the large (over 40 metre class), the small Dutch Urania and the class B Norwegian ship Wyvern Av. Some other early arrivals are already in ancillary guest harbours around the isles.
The class A ship Sorlandet, soon to have Shetland trainees on board for leg two of the race, has now reached Fair Isle, one of the most popular guest harbours. She is currently moving around the isle prior to anchoring, and locals hope to carry out the traditional bartering with the ship with everything from knitted keps to eggs likely to be exchanged.
Also in Fair Isle today are the Belgian ships Miles to Go and the Rupel. The crews of the Wyvern and the Jens Krough, which arrived yesterday together with the smaller British Ocean Spirit of Moray, enjoyed a party in the isle last night. One local said: “The whole day was a buzz.”
The Ocean Spirit of Moray has now left, as have the Norwegian Svanhild, and Belgian Zenobe Gramme, both of which paid brief visits.
The class A vessel Endraacht, which two Shetland trainees will join for the third leg, arrived in Scalloway today, joining the German Esprit. The Esprit reached Scalloway last night, arriving in time to take part in the fire festival.
The crew members were delighted to carry torches and the galley was named after their ship. “It was fantastic, there was a good crowd and everyone had a great night,” said local man David Sandison.
Whalsay has not yet seen the majestic green-sailed Alexander von Humboldt, possibly due today, but is playing host instead to the Scandinavian sail training ship Atlantica, her arrival being an “unexpected bonus” according to locals.
This vessel is not on the Tall Ships list but may take part in the last leg from Norway to Sweden. Her crew have been enjoying the Whalsay hospitality of a barbecue and music at the boating club last night – another barbecue is scheduled for this afternoon. Yachts from Yell are also in the harbour.
The Moosk, Alba Endeavour and Shetland’s sail training ship Swan were in Cullivoe yesterday and crews took a “hearty part” in events laid on there, according to one of the organisers Barry Nisbet. They “thoroughly enjoyed” an “It’s a Knockout” type of contest, and took part in the Great Yell Run and enjoyed music and dancing into the night. The fun continues today with live music all day and a raffle of “incredible prizes” tonight.
The three ships are now heading to Unst for the last day of the isle’s UnstFest (Moosk and Swan, early arrivals into Shetland, were in Unst at the weekend, with the crew of the Moosk being the first to cram into the famous bus shelter).
The organisers said the week-long festival was “fantastic, really well supported”, with musical events lasting well into the night. One of its highlights was a Palais Glide competition, which it was hoped would beat the record of 196 people dancing. This was not achieved, but organisers were delighted with the turnout.
Meanwhile the Columbian class A ship Gloria is approaching Fair Isle, and further away are the Dutch Sirma and De Gallant, which are in Orkney with the Polish class A barquentine Pogoria. En route to Orkney are the British ships the class A Pelican of London, and the Morning Star of Revelation.
The Tall Ships will be supported by other vessels. It has been announced that one of the Royal Navy’s fishery protection vessels, HMS Mersey, will sail into Lerwick on Thursday to support the races. She will be at Holmsgarth until Sunday, and on Saturday will be open to visitors between 10am and 4pm.
The highlight of the Royal Navy’s involvement comes on Sunday morning when the Mersey has the honour of being the “saluting ship” for the Parade of Sail at the start line as the ships leave Lerwick on the next leg of the races.
She will be joined at the start line by the Norwegian Coastguard offshore patrol vessel Alesund, which will be acting as escort vessel for the tall ships on the next leg of the race taking them to the Norwegian port of Stavanger.
The Mersey’s commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Mike Anderson said: “We are thoroughly looking forward to being part of the Tall Ships’ visit to Lerwick. I have no doubt there will be a superb festival atmosphere and we are really delighted to be able to open the ship to visitors on Saturday.
“And being able to round off our call at Lerwick as the salute ship for the departing boats before forming the start line with our colleagues from the Norwegian Coastguard is a true honour.”