Four years of planning went into the four (extended to five) days of the Tall Ships visit and and project manager Fiona Dally described it as “a real mixture of elation and sadness” to see the vessels depart.
Starting with the excellent hospitality shown around the isles, during the Cruise in Company, she said visitors and the community came out in force to visit the Tall Ships on their arrival in Lerwick. Despite the wind and weather, visitors enjoyed the many activities which ensured the to wn bustled over the five days.
Ms Dally said: “We must say a huge thanks to all of the volunteers who have made this event particularly special and a real family affair. The level of support they’ve given without question has been wonderful, especially that of all the liaison officers who ensured the Norwegian captains and crew had access to the necessary com–munication to reach their families back home when necessary.
“A special thanks must go to everyone who went the extra mile to ensure we could accommodate, entertain and look after our visitors for an additional 24 hours.
“We hope our event will be remembered as a truly international celebration and look forward to welcoming The Tall Ships back to our shores again soon.”
Lerwick Port Authority chief executive Sandra Laurenson described the event as “hugely happy” and said the decision to postpone the departure had been the right one as having the ships leave during high winds would have been “challenging”. She said: “The most positive thing of all was the turnout from the locals, they supported everything.”
One of the Shetland directors was former councillor Billy Stove, who with other directors has been to Tall Ships in other areas. He said: “This is the best Tall Ships I’ve been to. We’ve learned a lot about what to do to make it a family-friendly event.” Sunday night’s free music event was a way of saying thank you to everyone who had helped make the four days a “huge success”.
Shetland Tall Ships 2011 Ltd vice-chairman Peter Malcolmson said all the feedback had been entirely positive. The crew parade was a “joy to behold, everyone was so exuberant”, and officers and crews enjoyed the parties and events laid on for them.
Mr Malcolmson said a member of Sail Training International, in Lerwick for the event, reported that in his 22 years of experience he had never seen such a good team of liaison officers.
The 80 liaison officers were each assigned to various ships and their role was to make sure everything went smoothly, according to chief officer John Dally. They worked in a voluntary capacity and had to be ready for “their” ship as the mooring lines came ashore. They then had to ensure generators were in place for shore power, arrange supplies of fuel and gas and help with anything from organising divers for problems with propeller blades to dealing with suspect packages.
And after the tragic events in Norway the liaison officers had to make sure there were enough phones for trainees to contact loved ones. They also had to inform trainees about the leisure activities available, ranging from clay pigeon shooting to abseiling.
Altogether the Tall Ships visit produced a “feelgood factor”, according to Lerwick Police. Acting inspector Gordon Fowler said: “We were surprised at the lack of problems due to disorder, people were very well-behaved, more so than on most weekends.”
Credit should go to the stewards, Mr Fowler said, whose interaction with the public was “first rate” and “very professional”.
Meanwhile the Columbian naval vessel Gloria will not be taking any further part in the Tall Ships Races. The Class A ship, which attracted a lot of admiration during her stay in Lerwick, has been tasked by the Columbian navy to fulfil military commitments in Denmark.