"I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by, And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking, And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking." From Sea Fever by John Masefield
John Masefield, who penned these words, would surely have been stirred by the scene that will unfold in Halifax Harbour July 19. On that day, the sea will be dotted with the bright sails of the first of approximately 150 tall ships as these vessels continue The Race of the Century and cruise into one of Canada's oldest port cities. To commemorate this spectacular event, Canada Post will issue two self-adhesive, domestic-rate stamps. They will be available in booklets of 10, and together on a Halifax-cancelled OFDC.
The Great Race
The European vessels competing in the tall ships' race will depart from Southampton, England, and Genoa, Italy, in two separate races. After converging on Cadiz, Spain, they'll then race across the Atlantic to Bermuda and cruise north to Boston and Halifax. An estimated 700,000 spectators, as well as 2,500 replacement crew members, will look on as the competitors arrive in Halifax. On July 24, the final leg will begin. The destination will be Amsterdam, where in 1995, five million enthusiasts gathered to welcome the sailors and their ships.
Youth on Deck
Tall Ships Nova Scotia is supervising the Canadian visit by these vessels. The non-profit, volunteer society was formed to preserve and honour Canada's maritime traditions. A legacy fund has also been created to develop a national Tall Ships program for Canadian youth. Young people are an important part of this sailing movement. At least half the crew of each vessel must be between the ages of 15 and 25.
The stamp's designer, Fraser Ross, and illustrator Bonnie Ross (no relation), are both Haligonians. The stamp theme struck a chord for each of them. Says Fraser, "I grew up spending my summers on sailboats, so presenting this event in a stamp is a highlight of my career." The design team took great pains to ensure that various classes of tall ships were represented in this issue, from barques and brigantines to the two-, three- and four-masted schooners. All are depicted in Halifax Harbour under glorious full sail.