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#TBT: Sailing in Toronto Harbor

Posted by Tall Ships America on July 21, 2016

Can you do a Throwback Thursday on a blog post? Well, we are doing it (we’re crazy like that).  Read about Ben and his time sailing in Toronto Harbor aboard Playfair. Ben and George are currently sailing in Playfair, en route to Pepsi(R) Tall Ships(R) Chicago 2016 (July 27-31). You’ll be able to read all about their adventures here so stay tuned for updates. 


Off to the race

Off to the race!

By Intern Ben

The day started as usual at the Redpath Waterfront Festival– up bright and early to meet the staff in preparation for the imminent crowds. The day after Canada Day came with the promise of an amazing turn-out, with clear skies and lots of sun.

The lines appeared seemingly moments after ticket sales opened. Soon so many people were waiting that the queue looped around B the length of the quay. It was soon apparent that most of these were here to see El Galéon, the Spanish replica out of Seville. Indeed, the line waiting to walk up it’s gang -way persisted most of the day as a constant stream of people flowers on and off her decks.

Later we were able to join the Toronto Brigantines for an afternoon sail across the Harbor. Playfair, Pathfinder, and Kingston, ON- based Saint Lawrence II were sailing in company as the wind picked up around the early evening. The brigantines heeled pleasantly as they reached down the harbor, before turning around to beat back up to Harbor Square.

A strange image after modern racers, the brigantines nonetheless made an impressive sight dueling upwind. The strongest gusts sent water over the bulwarks, even reaching the shallow quarterdecks on the roll. Hands to sheets and braces on leeward ensured all had wet feet on the tacks. Still, the call of “let go and haul” came, there was the beautiful sight of the yards swinging around to cut an arc across the setting sun.

We arrived back at harbor square coming in on engine power, and formed a pontoon with the already docked playfair. It was then that I was surprised to hear the offer to go aloft and help with the furling. I quickly fetched a harness and lay on to the ratlines. The first few steps, so much like the first steps ashore after sailing, were unsteady and hesitant.

Being back in the rigging of a tall ship was a welcome respite after my many months of sitting ashore, and the crew of Playfair were as agile with the rigging as they were quick with the braces.

Little did I expect on my second day in Toronto to find myself 30 feet above the harbor, helping a crew of teenagers furl the topsails on a brigantine, and hanging on to the yard for dear life, but like riding a bike, some things are never forgotten. And with the parade of sail tomorrow I know it will soon be time to turn our ships south– Erie beckons.


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