Brenda Martinelli has not seen any tall ships since they first sailed into the Halifax Harbour in 1984.

“It is great to see them again,” she said yesterday on the city’s waterfront. “It is a huge treat.”

Martinelli worked at Halifax’s first ever Tall Ships Festival some 25 years ago. But a few years later Martinelli, who grew up in Halifax, moved to Whitby, Ont. She returned to this city with her daughters Allison, 11, and Lauren, 8, this year specifically to see the magnificent vessels once again.


“They’re so cool,” said Lauren, jumping into the air after an impromptu canon launch.

Led by Nova Scotia’s own Bluenose II, the Parade of Sail drew thousands to the brims of the Halifax and Dartmouth waterfronts yesterday. Everyone from tourists to business people on their lunch breaks came out to watch the historic event. Some lucky spectators were situated on rooftops and balconies, but the best view was from the middle of the harbor where a cluster of boats filled the inner circle of the passing vessels.

In the end, 41 tall ships cruised by the Dartmouth side of Georges Island, turned at the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge, waved the Halifax port goodbye and headed out to sea.

The Kruzenshtern, the largest vessel at the event, anchored the parade. At 51 metres tall, the ship would reach about the halfway point of Fenwick Towers, the tallest building in Nova Scotia.

Mayor Peter Kelly was giving out Halifax Regional Municipality pins on his way to the Parade of Sail reception.

“I’m just trying to make sure everyone is having fun,” the mayor said after offering a family of tourists a photo opportunity.

Martinelli said she had one hope for this year’s event.

“I remember last time the sailors got all up on the masts to wave goodbye,” she said above the bustle of a crowded wharf. “I hope they do that today.”