Tall ships fesitval organizers welcome the Esmeralda - Metro US

Tall ships fesitval organizers welcome the Esmeralda

If you’re around Pier 21 this week, expect a little taste of what the upcoming tall ships festival in Halifax will be like this summer.

The Esmeralda, a Chilean Navy training vessel, will be docked in Halifax Harbour until Saturday, when it heads to Boston, the next stop on its five-month trip along the coast of the Americas.

Colin MacLean, head of the Waterfront Development Corporation, was on hand to give the Esmeralda an official welcome Wednesday morning. MacLean’s company is running the 2009 Tall Ships Nova Scotia Festival, which will be held in Halifax July 16 to 20 and welcome between 40 and 50 ships to the city.

MacLean says events like the Esmeralda’s visit and the tall ships festival is about “Halifax being part of an international community.”

As for people coming to see them, MacLean says they’ll “get a sense of what the golden age of sail was like, when our waterfront was filled with these types of vessels.”

The Esmeralda’s pristine white hull is almost as long as two hockey rinks. According to Lt. Alexander Lemay, one of the ship’s officers, it takes a full crew about 30 minutes to hoist all of its 37 sails.

New graduates from Chile’s naval academy have been training on the tall ship since 1954. According to Lemay, there are currently about 150 trainees on board.

A look at the Esmeralda’s history shows the ship has some blood on its hull. During the 1970s, when General Pinochet seized control of Chile, more than 100 people were detained and tortured on board the Esmeralda. The ship was also the site of the high-profile murder of Miguel Woodward, a British-Chilean priest.

The Esmeralda is moored near the intersection of Morris and Lower Water Street the next three days. Those interested in taking a look onboard can do so today and tomorrow from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., free of charge.

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