Tall ships head to Foyle Festival

THE Tall Ships which are set to visit Londonderry this weekend as part of the Foyle Days Festival have led varied lives, having incarnations as everything from fishing boats to movie stars!

The Johanna Lucretia and The Phoenix, are not only impressive and majestic sights on the river, they have equally impressive histories.

The Johanna Lucretia is a British Tall ship and is an oak wooden two masted topsail schooner built at the Rhoos Shipyard, Ghent in Belgium in 1945. The Johanna Lucretia measures 96ft (28.65m) in length, her beam is 18ft (5.50m), her draught is 8ft (2.45m) and she has a total sail area of 380m squared.

Although originally built as a fishing vessel, she was never used for that purpose and was converted for recreational use in 1954, by the then owner Ber van Meer. She sailed in Dutch waters until 1989 from her port in Enkhuizen in The Netherlands.

She has starred in the film The Riddle of the Sands in 1978 when she took the part of the Medusa and more recently in the film Amazing Grace – a drama about William Wilberforce’s campaign to end the slave trade. She also starred in the Irish TV reality show, Cabin Fever, where she replaced the original Cabin Fever ship after it ran aground off Tory Island.

Phoenix started life in 1929 as a Danish evangelical mission schooner.

Twenty years later she retired from missionary work and carried cargo, until her engine room was damaged by fire in 1972. She was bought by new owners in 1974, who converted her into a Brigantine, before being purchased by Square Sail in 1988.

A first-aid overhaul enabled her to sail back to the UK, where she underwent a complete re-fit. During 1991, she was converted into a 15th Century Caravel, to replicate the Santa Maria, Christopher Colombus’ flagship, for Ridley Scott’s film, 1492: Conquest of Paradise.

In 1996, due to the increasing demand for period Square Riggers, her name was changed back to Phoenix and she was converted into a two masted Brig with a rig of the 1750 era.

She has comfortable accommodation below decks and in addition to film work, she operates a busy sailing programme, which allows many people the opportunity to experience sailing on a traditional Square Rigger first hand.

Both these ships will be open to the public to step on board for free between 12pm – 5pm on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th June.

In the run up to the Foyle Days event the city will also see the 70ft Oyster ketch, Lord Rank, owned and operated by Ocean Youth Trust Ireland.

This week the Lord Rank will become a mobile, sea faring studio, with six presenters from Downtown Radio, enjoying a mix of sailing and broadcasting, and also raising money the charity for Cash 4 Kids.

The Lord Rank is purpose designed and fitted out to provide young people the opportunity to share the challenges of crewing a Tall Ship at sea.

The Foyle Days Festival, which runs on June 12th and 13th, sees a host of exciting activities in and around the River Foyle. With kayaking, scuba diving, nature trail quizzes, craft activites, historical tours, not to mention the fantastic Walled City Market – there really is something for everyone!

Foyle Days is organised by Derry City Council and supported by Londonderry Port and Harbour Commission, The Loughs Agency, Ilex and the Derry Credit Union.

If you would like to make a donation to Downtown Radio’s Cash 4 Kids campaign please visit downtown.co.uk/dontrocktheboat

For further information please visit www.derrycity.gov.uk/foyledays or pick up a programme at the tourist information centre.