The Halifax waterfront was busy yesterday as tourists took advantage of the sunny day to walk along the boardwalk.

 

But crowds will be even larger - much larger - over the next five days as thousands descend to the waterfront as tall ships fever hits Halifax.

 

The ships began arriving for the Halifax portion of Tall Ships Nova Scotia Festival 2009 in Halifax Harbour yesterday morning, a day before the five-day event officially kicks off.

 

The Captain Miranda from Uruguay was the first ship to arrive 8 a.m. The boats are going to continue to arrive until tomorrow afternoon.

 

Forty tall ships are expected in the harbour by 1 p.m. tomorrow when the American ship Eagle, one of the slower ships, sails in.

Leanne Strathdee, event director for the festival, said they have been busy the last few days setting up hand washing stations and family rest stations to combat fears of Influenza A (H1N1), also known as swine flu.

She encouraged people coming to the festival to wash their hands at the stations and to “sit down and grab a cold drink before heading back out” at the family rest stations while enjoying the festivities.

Strathdee and other members of the festival have been working with the Waterfront Development Corporation for the past two years to plan this event.

They began by getting in contact with as many of the tall ships as they could. Because those who work with tall ships don’t have “regular office hours,” it took along time to get a hold of everyone, Strathdee said.

Once they made contact with the ships’ crews, they were able to get 40 tall ships out of the 400 in the world to participate.

“It’s been hard work,” Strathdee said. “But it’s comes together and it’s going to be a great event.”