Kaisei arrives in Steveston

Kaisei is now docked at Britannia Heritage Shipyard. It can now be seen from the shore, but visitors will be able to board the vessel at the upcoming Richmond Maritime Festival. - City of Richmond photo
Kaisei is now docked at Britannia Heritage Shipyard. It can now be seen from the shore, but visitors will be able to board the vessel at the upcoming Richmond Maritime Festival.
— image credit: City of Richmond photo

Britannia Heritage Shipyard will host one of the largest vessels to tie up at its docks when the Richmond Maritime Festival gets underway next weekend.

The tall ship Kaisei arrived in Richmond last week, ahead of the ninth annual festival set for Aug. 10 to 12.

“It’s a great ship,” said Coun. Bill McNulty. “It’s going to give members of the community an opportunity to see something that they normally won’t see in a ship.”

The 151-foot brigantine had been scheduled to arrive in Steveston earlier this summer for Ships to Shore, but weather forced the crew to cancel its coastal voyage. But talks with city event planners continued, and the tall ship managed to sail to Britannia’s docks from the north Pacific.

“It’s a bit of a surprise that they’re able to now come and be with us, and it’s a bonus for really enhance the Maritime Festival,” said McNulty, who called the ship one of the largest to dock at Britannia in a century.

The only larger vessel to dock at Britannia in modern times was Concordia, a 188-foot tall ship that ran aground during its visit in 2004. It later capsized and sank off the coast of Brazil in 2010.

There were some questions whether Kaisei could sail into Britannia, but the shallow water channel proved to be deep enough. City spokesperson Ted Townsend said the Concordia grounding had more to do with navigation rather than channel depth.

Kaisei is certainly one of the largest vessels to visit Richmond, Townsend added, apart from the two Japanese Class A tall ships Nippon Maru and Kaiwo Maru.

“Everything worked out that they’re able to be here, and we’re happy they’re here,” said Townsend.

Kaisei crew are now on shore leave, but will return next week to talk about their research. The two-masted sailing ship is the primary research vessel for Project Kaisei, a group formed in 2008 to find solutions to the growing islands of plastic and marine debris in the world’s oceans. Project Kaisei is part of Ocean Voyages Institute.

The crew has spent the last several weeks tracking debris resulting from the tsunami that struck Japan last year.

Richmond Maritime Festival visitors will have a chance to board the ship and learn firsthand about its environmental research. A series of forums led by Project Kaisei staff and scientists is also planned.

Other vessels will be available for viewing and boarding during the event. Visitors are also welcome to tour the shipyard’s historic buildings and enjoy entertainment provided by musicians, roving performers, wood carvers, stilt-walkers, storytellers, dancers and drummers.

Arts and crafts activities will be offered for the kids, along with visits from special characters like Crabby the Crab.

Admission is free.

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