Setting sail for Yarmouth Maritime Festival

Ahoy there landlubbers. Great Yarmouth's Maritime Festival is preparing to drop anchor and you are being invited to be piped aboard. LIZ COATES previews what to expect.

Things are literally looking up for Great Yarmouth's Maritime Festival with one of this year's highlights set to be a daring aerial circus act who will tumble from the rigging of a magnificent tall ship.

The Lord Nelson has docked at South Quay for the two-day festival this weekend and provide the backdrop to the Pirates of the Caribina aerial display by the No Fit State Circus.

The swashbuckling stunt will herald the start of the hugely popular event — now in its 12th year — and the 2011 line-up is one of its biggest ever.

Thousands of landlubbers will flock to the resort to sample life on the sea. And after a successful expansion last year, the festival will again cover the entire length of South Quay, stretching to Stonecutter's Quay.

The main attractions will be the spectacular tall ships including the Oosterschelde, the only remaining three-masted Dutch topsail schooner in the world.

Passenger sailing trips from two to four hours are available until Saturday.

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Ken Sims, chairman of the Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority, which organises the festival, said: 'Sailings on the Artemis and Mercedes at previous Maritime Festivals proved very popular with visitors who were keen to ex-perience life under sail out on the high seas.

'The Oosterschelde is possibly the most magnificent of all the tall ships who have visited so far, and is sure to be a great asset.'

The Jubilee Sailing Trust's Lord Nelson, a regular visitor, has taken over 24,000 people on voyages to ports all over the UK — but rarely hosted circus acrobats.

River cruises including a trip to the outer harbour will be available at 11am, 1pm and 3pm on both days of the festival aboard the MV Coronia, a 1935-built pleasure steamer which used to take trippers out to see the seals.

She rescued 900 troops from Dunkirk during the Second World War and afterwards returned to use as a pleasure cruiser in Scarborough where she still works.

Trips will cost �5 for adults and �3 for children; tickets can be bought on the day on the quayside.

Other boats and ships attending the festival include the MTB 102, a motor torpedo boat built in 1937 and restored to feature in the 1976 film The Eagle has Landed, starring Michael Caine.

It is also hoped that the Excelsior, officially one of the 60 most important historic ships in Britain, will be in port.

Lifeboats on show will include the Samarbeta from Great Yarmouth and Gorleston RNLI.

Festival fun on dry land will include demonstrations of traditional maritime skills, sea shanties [see panel], cook-ing exhibitions by top local chefs and beer tents.

Children can also have fun with face-painting, balloon modelling and Punch and Judy. Colourful costumed charac-ters will weave through the crowds with 'off the cuff' street theatre from the East Coast Militia and two strange looking pirates.

You'll also be able to try your hand at knot making and net mending — it's like darning socks but on a much lar-ger scale, apparently. The festival starts at 10am on both days and while entrance is free, people are asked to make a �1 donation to help keep the festival afloat.

? The 11th Yarmouth Maritime Festival takes place on South Quay on September 10-11. For further information visit:

? For more details about sailings contact Great Yarmouth Tourist Information Centre on 01493 332200.


The Maritime Festival will resonate to the sound of shanty music from dawn until dusk on three different stages along South Quay, including Crossjack a six strong a cappella shanty group from Germany.

Playing on Saturday only, old favourites and crowd-pleasers Sheringham Shantymen, made up of former and serving lifeboatmen, will be journeying along the coast road.

Also welcomed back this year are Owd Chyvers and Kimber's Men. Owd Chyvers is an expression from Hull meaning 'old mates' and this threesome certainly come into that category as John Thrall has appeared at the Yarmouth festival on numerous occasions. Along with Zeke Deighton and Mick McGarry, the group have 120 years of singing experience behind them and are adept at getting the audience on side.

Having appeared at most major UK maritime festivals and on BBC4's successful series, Sea Songs with Gareth Malone, since they got together in 2001, Kimber's Men are a five-strong group who have also performed in Yarmouth several times.

In addition to the traditional shanty music, this year singers from the East Norfolk Operative Society — widely known for their Gilbert and Sullivan performances — will be entertaining the crowds with a range of numbers from shows with a nautical theme for something a little bit different.

Local groups appearing include Jigsaw, the Plough Jockeys, the Mollyhawks, DPA and the Jolly Rogers.