Crowd in Awe of Tall Ships SailBoston

Jun 2017

Tall Ships SailBoston 2017. The beauty and majesty of more than fifty tall ships cruised into Boston Harbor for the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta this weekend.  Years of planning went into the organization of this event with the cooperation of sailors, embassies, associations and governments from around the world..

Parade of Sails Boston 2107

Boston is the sole American port that will host the regatta organized by Sail Training International and the Rendezvous naval de Québec.  This is the largest assembly of tall ships to grace an American port in almost 20 years. The trans-Atlantic race began in the United Kingdom and will pass through only seven host ports around the North Atlantic ocean, including Boston Harbor. While not all of the ships are in the entire race, the parade includes the total from the Boston – Bermuda leg.

Rendez-Vous Route map

Rendez-Vous regatta map route via SailonBoard

Exactly what is a tall ship? Most importantly, a tall ship has a propulsion system based on sails. These large, traditionally rigged sailing vessels include topsail schooners, brigantines, brigs and barques. Tall ship racing started in Europe to encourage sail training and preserve the legacy of tall ships. It is geared towards training young people in the art of sailing, while at the same time promoting international friendships.

With the advent of the steam engine, sailing ships became unpopular and it was out of the desire to keep the sail ship tradition alive that a Tall Ships Regatta was started in 1956 by Bernard Morgan and Dr Pedro Pereira. This pioneering Regatta included 20 ships racing from Torquay, Devon to Lisbon and was a huge success with the public. With the positive results and high level of public interest, the Sails Training International Association was founded to plan future events. Since then, there have been annual tall ships races all over the world and these events have become a staple on the calendar of tall ships enthusiasts.

Tall Ships SailBoston

Tall ships sailboston

Sailors atop the rigging of a the BAP Union, a Peruvian military ship

It is no surprise that, Boston, a city steeped in maritime history, is hosting Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta. Sail Boston, the organizer of the port-stop, has a series of events and marine operations planned over the five-day period.  The highlight of course, is the Grande Parade of Sail where the vessels from all over the world flaunt their majestic beauty and splendor for all to behold. Tall ships  parade in flotillas from Broad Sound to the main channel of Boston Harbor, then turn at Charleston to proceed to their berthing areas. About half of the vessels participating in the event are schooners, and they are differentiated by their masts and the mast section on which they are hoisted.

Parade of Sails Boston

The Pride of Baltimore

As I prepare to travel on a Maine schooner in the near future, I was particularly interested in the different types participating in SailBoston. Even with a heavy fog clouding the skies, I was not disappointed.  Some of the 26 beauties I watched: Brilliant, a staysail schooner; Green Dragon, a gaffed rigged schooner; Pride of Baltimore, a topsail schooner; Shenandoah, a square topsail schooner; and Tree of Life, a gaffe schooner. These are some very elegant vessels that no doubt wowed the many tall ships enthusiasts. I certainly was unaware there were so many different types. All schooners are differentiated by their masts and the mast section on which they are hoisted.

View of Boston Harbor during Tall ships

Boston Tall Ships 2017 June 17

Although the Parade of Sail is the main attraction, Sail Boston has organized a myriad of activities for the week, including concerts, workshops, military demonstrations and other events. Visitors will be able to board many of the ships free of charge.

Working on a Tall ship

The Patriot Run involves 200 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guards running from the North Jetty to Christopher Columbus Park and back. The Navy and Marine Corps laid wreaths in honor of fallen Massachusetts soldiers that served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Parade of Sails Boston

The events continue with a picturesque crew and cadet procession on Monday, where marching bands and cadets from the visiting ships will parade from Seaport Boulevard to Downtown Crossing. On Tuesday’s calendar is a soccer tournament involving the crews of the tall ships. The events are capped off with a Sunset Salute on Wednesday which will be a night of music and military entertainment.

Fireship leading the Parade of Sails Boston

Boston fireboat leads the Tall Ships Parade of Sails

While many of the tall ships make stops in different harbors throughout the world, nothing can compare to the big parade that took place this weekend. To see the 50 plus vessels in one spot was magical, a flotilla of history and culture decorating a beautiful harbor that I am lucky enough to call home. The regatta departs the Boston Harbor on Thursday morning and continues to Canada for the next leg of the Rendez- Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta. One can only imagine the epic event in conjunction with the country’s 150th birthday. The final leg of the journey will take the regatta to Le Havre, France.

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Parade of Tall Ships in Boston





  1. Morgan says:

    What an incredible experience!!! Amazing pictures!

  2. Donna Janke says:

    Fifty tall ships together would be impressive to see. Magical, indeed.

  3. I love your pictures, especially the first, with the ship in the mist of the fireboat. Very atmospheric! A similar event is held in Amsterdam every five years, with the next being in 2020, I think. I love being able to board and explore these ships, but seeing them under sail is the best!

  4. Anna Parker says:

    Love this – just look at all those sails! Glad the yacht I race on only has 3 up at a time!

  5. Your report and photos were the next best thing to being there!

  6. Cindy says:

    Jealous! We had planned to attend this, but other things came up. Your pictures are lovely – thanks for sharing it with those of us who couldn’t get there.

  7. These are coming to Quebec City this summer, too, so thanks for the sneak preview!

  8. These tall ships are coming to Quebec City this summer, too, so thanks for the sneak preview!