What a mixture
For years I have been promising myself a visit to the Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival. The title promised much and the antics of Radio Norfolk to promote the event certainly added artistic verisimilitude.
The Police Boat left as we arrived, so apparently it wasn’t intending to be part of anything. There was what remained of a Second World War motor torpedo boat, whose crew rather blocked the ladder to the ship and who didn’t seem to want to encourage visitors to look round. Anyway far more enticing spectacles could be seen in the distance. Avoiding the chanting sea shanty booths and the odour of the kipper stalls, we progressed down the quay.
A strange looking trimaran, painted in unmistakable Navy colours was indeed impressive. “Was it a naval vessel?” A question that had been asked by many of the Yarmouth residents when earlier in the year it had moored visibly off the coast of Norfolk. “Triton” – sadly the event brochure was silent about its existence. However the absence of HMS from its name and with a registration in Lowestoft one was left guessing that the owners were either Boarder Force or a research unit of some sort.
A little more convincing was the next boat in the line – clearly a three masted sailing ship, which looked immaculate, “Kaskelot”. This indeed was the real thing. This was what I had come to see. Actually it’s a sort of converted real thing made to look like a traditional three masted sailing ship. The Kaskelot, built in 1948 was converted from being a Baltic Trader in 1981 to replicate a traditional three masted barque double topsail, featuring in many television dramas – you know, you watched Poldark. There’s no doubt about it it’s an impressive ship and you can hire it – and sail it, if you can muster a crew of 16.
Even the Kaskelot was a bit in the shadow of another boat which I thought I recognized. It was called the Malavia Twenty but resembled one of those supply ships previously owned by Red Seven. The Malavia Twenty arrived in Yarmouth in June 2016 only to be impounded by various authorities because the Indian owners failed to pay the crew. Nevertheless she looked an impressive addition to the festival even if her pedigree was a bit dodgy.
As I marvelled at the spectacle set before me, I was rather interrupted by a noble body of marching men resplendent in uniforms. The East Norfolk Militia had arrived. They did a bit of marching and something resembling drill as their sergeant explained they were a sort of Home Guard of the Georgian Period created to defend our shores. The company formed up, loaded their rifles and fired a volley into the air. In truth it has to be said they didn’t march terribly well (but there again neither did the Home Guard) and in that respect I felt they would have been assisted by boots and not a mixture of trainers and soft shoes. I also found myself marvelling that noble Georgian defenders ensured their prompt arrival on parade by their expensive wrist watches, clearly displayed to the audience when they fired their rifles!
Thank goodness for the Lydia Eva the Yarmouth steam drifter, moored on the quay all year round and manned by enthusiastic, dedicated volunteers who have more than a dash of authenticity about them. As always their contribution was tremendous.
My verdict on the festival “enjoyable” even if at times it was a little bald and unconvincing.
As a postscript totally convincing was the gentleman who appeared dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow.