Landlubbers head to Maritime Festival

Anthony CarrollAhoy there landlubbers. Great Yarmouth's Maritime Festival is preparing to drop anchor and you are being invited to be piped aboard. ANTHONY CARROLL previews what to expect.Anthony Carroll

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

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It is going to the longest one yet and have a strong Russian feel - that is the message from the organisers of the 11th Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival.

Thousands of landlubbers will flock to the resort next weekend to sample life on the sea.

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And in a boost to the popular annual event, the festival will cover the entire length of South Quay for the first time and even stretch to Stonecutter's Quay.

And curious visitors to the festival - on September 4-5 - will be queuing up to go on board the three-masted replica of the Russian frigate the Shtandart.

The elegant tall ship is a replica of the first Russian-built flagship for Peter the Great in 1703, completed more than three hundred years later.

The theme for this year's festival is the offshore industry, with stalls and a marquee giving visitors an insight into vessels which supply rigs.

Festival chairman Aileen Mobbs and Alan Carr, the chief executive of the Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority, said town had put in place a new extended area the festival. Workmen have been busy this month installing tie-down loops along the historic South Quay to prevent a repeat of last year's weather-related calamity when organisers struggled to stop marquees becoming airborne in strong winds.

Mrs Mobbs said: 'Now the festival is getting closer I am beginning to get very excited. Looking at South Quay now it is hard to imagine that in a few weeks' time it will be full of thousands of people enjoying themselves by celebrating our maritime past, present and future.'

Yarmouth's very own Lydia Eva will be moored alongside for visitors to come aboard and experience the very latest in steam drifter technology from 1930, she has since been extensively restored and refurbished.

Shout-outs permitting, the Bernard Matthews II operated by Caister Independent Lifeboat and the Samarbeta operated by RNLI Gorleston will both appear at this year's Maritime Festival. Two very different types of lifeboat, the Samarbeta is a Trent Class lifeboat designed to lie afloat either at deep water moorings or at berth while the Bernard Matthews II is a Valentine Class lifeboat, Britian's fastest lifesaving vessel with a top speed of 40 knots.

The Customs Cutter HMCC Vigilant or the HMCC Valiant is expected to come into port along with a Royal Navy patrol boat, operations permitting.

Watch out for the Horace and Hannah, a shrimper built in Yarmouth in 1906, it is the last seaworthy sailing shrimper and a legacy of the Borough's maritime history when up to 100 boats a day put out to sea to bring home pink and brown shrimps for holiday-maker's teas.

The MBT102, which saw active service in the Second World War from 1939-1940 will also be on show. Motor Torpedo Boats were designed to be able to mount a quick response to threats from any other seagoing vessel be it warship or submarine. The MBT102 starred alongside Michael Caine in the 1976 film, The Eagle has Landed.

Moored on the other side of Haven Bridge, the Southern Belle, a 1920's pleasure boat will be operating river trips from Stonecutters Quay.

Other festival fun includes a river rescue display by Newfoundland dogs, a demonstration of traditional maritime skills, sea shanties, cooking exhibitions by top local chefs and beer tents.

Crowds will also be entertained by giant seagulls and the East Norfolk Militia history re-enactment group and can watch the International Guild of Knot Tiers in action.

Knot tying is another important skill for any seafarer, both past and present. Visitors will be able to find out all about the reef knot and the much maligned granny and have a go and learning the ropes.

You'll also be able to try your hand at net mending - it's like darning socks but on a much larger scale, apparently.

There will also be demonstrations of spinning with a hand-on drop spindle for children to have a go and lace making will also be on display.

Children will be able to take part in a Natural England underwater exploration display and the BBC's Bang Goes The Theory interactive roadshow.

Mr Carr said: 'When we started 11 years ago we never thought the festival would end up as big as this.'

The festival starts at 10am on both days and while entrance is free, people are asked to make a �1 donation.

t The 11th Yarmouth Maritime Festival takes place on South Quay on September 4-5. For further information visit its new website at:

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