Marblehead harbors a tall ship

Cady Netland of Boxford reads a book and takes in a view of the HMCS Oriole anchored in the mouth of Marblehead Harbor from Chandler-Hovey Park.


MARBLEHEAD — A 96-year-old sailing training vessel of the Royal Canadian Navy has been a guest in Marblehead Harbor for the past several days.

The HMCS Oriole, a 102-foot-long ship, was anchored off the coast of Marblehead while it waited to venture into Boston Harbor as part of the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta.

The trans-Atlantic regatta began in Royal Greenwich, UK. The fleet then raced to Sines, Portugal, followed by Bermuda. The ships will arrive in Boston Harbor today for Sail Boston 2017. On Thursday, the fleet will travel to Quebec City, Canada.

“I think we should all be honored that she chose Marblehead and the Boston Yacht Club to be a stopover and I know she will attract a lot of interest as she sits off of Marblehead,” said Marblehead harbormaster Mark Souza.

The vessel was built by the wealthy Gooderham Family in Toronto, Canada in 1924, said the ship’s executive officer Tom Eagle. The family was involved with racing in the late 1800s and early 1900s and had five ships, all named Oriole. The ship in Marblehead Harbor is Oriole IV. While the boat was being constructed, the shipyard closed down. It was sent to Neponsit to be finished, beginning its ties to New England.

Throughout the ’30s and ’40s, it was chartered to the Navy of Canada for the purpose of training young adults and officers to prepare them to serve in the Canadian Navy. The vessel was purchased by the Navy in 1952 and commissioned two years later, said Eagle.

“It’s a commissioned ship in the Navy, just like every other gray ship you see,” said Eagle.

The Oriole is participating in the Tall Ships festival for the first time in more than 20 years in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.

“This is the first time since 1984 since it has been through the Panama Canal and into the Atlantic,” said Eagle. “The ship made the trip along the Atlantic for the Tall Ships festival in 1984.”

From Boston, Oriole will visit Charlottetown, Canada, to continue its celebration of Canadian Independence Day.

Sail Boston 2017’s opening ceremony will be today at noon at the Boston Harbor Hotel Rotunda. The Grand Parade of Sail will follow Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Brood Sound into the main channel of Boston Harbor, along the waterfront. The flotillas will turn at Charlestown and proceed to their assigned berthing areas.

Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

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