PMC Announces Cancellation of Sail Portsmouth 2021
Tall Ships postponed until next year
March 10, 2021 – The Piscataqua Maritime Commission announced today that logistics as well as COVID-19 pandemic concerns have forced its cancellation of this year’s tall ship festival.
“It seems the sea gods have been against us from the start,” Phil von Hemert, chair of the PMC board of directors, said in announcing the Sail Portsmouth 2021 cancellation.
“First, the PMC learned that the repairs to the Portsmouth Fish Pier bulwark would not be completed in time. Second, the ships slated to visit had too low a freeboard to safely moor at the Port Authority pier. Third, there was inadequate parking and other required facilities near New Castle’s UNH Pier to handle the anticipated crowds. And, finally, we are still contending with coronavirus safety issues,” von Hemert added.
Sail Portsmouth has become a beloved summertime event enjoyed by people of all ages from throughout the region.
Ship tours and sailing on a traditionally rigged schooner are among the favorite festival activities that draw crowds to Portsmouth and communities in the region.
For its most popular activity — the Parade of Sail up the Piscataqua River — thousands line the river banks to enjoy the scene featuring tall ships, fireboats, tugs, Coast Guard vessels and private boats.
The PMC cancelled Sail Portsmouth 2020 owing to the pandemic concerns. Sail Portsmouth 2019 featured the U.S. Coast Guard Barque Eagle.
PMC and Tall Ships America collaborate
According to von Hemert, 2021 was slated to be the first year of a collaboration between the PMC and Tall Ships America. TSA is the largest sail training association in the world and a founding member of Sail Training International.
The 2021 event would have included Sail Portsmouth as a stop on the Tall Ship Challenge, a tall ship race from port to port along the east coast of the United States.
Both TSA and PMC are now putting their resources into planning what von Hemert promises will be a “bigger and better” combined event in 2022.
Sea Challenge 2021 actively accepting student applications
The PMC’s core programming is threefold: Sail Portsmouth, a series of maritime related talks to educate the public about the region’s rich seafaring history, and the Sea Challenge. The Sea Challenge is an educational and experiential program aboard a tall ship.
Two schooners, the Roseway and the Harvey Gamage, will provide the sail training programs again this year.
Sail training is a general term that refers specifically to experiential education programs on a sailing vessel. Students become part of the crew, learning by doing whatever it takes to operate the ship in an efficient and safe manner. They learn about the sea and seamanship, navigation and teamwork, and they learn even more about themselves.
Sea Challenge participants are high school students residing on the Seacoast. Most come from underserved families thanks to the PMC’s Sea Challenge Scholarship Fund. The fund’s assets come from generous donations by local individuals and businesses. As the fund grows, so do the number of students who can participate.
“The silver lining this year is that the PMC’s Sea Challenge program will be running again,” said John Considine, Vice-Chair of the PMC board and director of the Sea Challenge program. ” “We can offer it”, Considine added, “because the ships adhere to strict COVID protocols. They have had zero cases since the pandemic’s beginning a year ago”. Recruiting has begun in earnest. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the program, you can call us at 603-3534-0308 and leave a message or go to the Sea Challenge page on this website and select the ‘Please Contact Me’ button.