The BLOG: Culture

Ocean Liners, Tall Ships, and Sea Shanties

SAIL BOSTON – PRESS ROOM with permission granted by Robin Riebel

With every rising tide a swell of enthusiasm for nautical adventures rolls onto the shores around Boston. How to launch into a summer of fun, adventure and imagination is a matter of choice and there are as many choices as there are summer breezes ahead!


Now through October 9th, the Peabody Essex Museum transports visitors to a place of luxury celebrating the opulence of 20th century Ocean Liners. Four years of cultivation have mixed saltwater with dashes of glamour in a cocktail shaker worthy of a Hollywood sound-stage. Imaginative collections span the waves between Salem’s PEM and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum; with support from private collections, a delicious elixir of sea-worthy style rolls from ship to shore. Cruise through the galleries that begin with original posters accented with international sophistication. Continue the excursion to see the splashy lanes-of-luxe open wider. A bellhop’s scarlet blazer rings a fashion note that includes a 1950’s Dior suit of Marlene Dietrich, period evening-wear as well as swim suits fitting the bashful and the bold.

Titanic fragment (Photo by Diane Kilgore)

An intricately carved panel-fragment salvaged from the first-class lounge of the Titanic, and a diamond encrusted Cartier tiara worn aboard the Lusitania anchor grand-entrance paintings that boast of sea bounties. Emulating the élan of elegant hotels, gentleman’s clubs, and aristocratic homes luxury liners were transformed into floating palaces. On these vessels attention to detail extended to places of worship. The exhibit includes a magnificent Art-Deco Torah ark designed in the shape of a hand or Hamesh as a symbolic blessing. Not to be missed on this port-of-call is a lustrously painted maritime masterwork of a compass with the Madonna and Child.

In the wake of inhaling a sea-spray of glitzy comforts the photography of Boucher and Stieglitz capture industrial and political evolution in the modern age. Black and white images portray stark disparities between economic classes. Architectural models of urban landscapes reflect the influence of ocean liner esthetics on city-life. These high-rising designs of nautical inspiration reflected industrial aspirations of the era and a wave of technology.

SAIL BOSTON~ Rendez-Vous 2017

Friday June, 16th the Tall Ships will anchor off the coast of Boston. Rigged masts will majestically silhouette the City’s iconic skyline. Robin Reibel, senior spokesperson of Sail Boston, expects the unfurling image to spark 4th of July excitement along the coast. Lead by U.S. Coast Guard Barque Eagle dozens of magnificent vessels will parade into Boston Harbor Saturday morning June, 17th hoisting a maritime festival that hasn’t been in the City since 2007.

SAIL BOSTON – PRESS ROOM with permission granted by Robin Riebel

Rendez-Vous 2017 is a trans-Atlantic regatta that began in Royal Greenwich, U.K headed for Portugal then Bermuda before tying up in Boston. Reibel said the international sailing community considers this City to be a favored port because of it’s hospitality and enthusiastic appreciation for sailing. A mutual spirit of good-will washes ashore in the activity drenched celebration of cultural exchange, education and free public boarding of the Ships around Charlestown and Seaport District. While berthed, Cadets and Crew are prepared to entertain and inform visitors with programs focused on U.S. and Maritime history.

Highlights of the Tall Ship stay include:

Friday June 16th,
Noon ~ Opening Ceremony @ the Boston Harbor Hotel Rotunda

Saturday June 17th,
9am-3pm ~Grand Parade of Sail followed by Ship boarding 4pm-10pm
10:00am- 10:30am Worship Service at the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Voyage

Sunday June 18th,
11:00am Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Massachusetts Fallen Hero’s Memorial

Monday June 19th,
Noon- 2:00 pm Crew and Cadet Street Parade from Seaport Blvd. to Downtown Crossing

Tuesday June 20th,
10:00am -2:30pm Crew and Cadet soccer tournament at Moakley Park
7:00pm -8:30pm Sunset Salute at the Charlestown Navy Yard

Wednesday June 21
Noon – Tug of War at South Boston Maritime Park
7:00pm-9:00pm Sunset Salute at Fan Pier

Thursday June 22nd
Tall Ships depart Boston Harbor set for Quebec’s 150th anniversary.


David Coffin’s call to the sea enriches folk-lore from shore to shore with sea-shanties that engage crowds of all ages. His lyrical inspirations have echoed throughout New England and entertained international audiences as a performer in the Revels, Boston’s Early Music Festival and now as the Director of Narration for the Boston Harbor Cruises. Growing up as the son of Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Yale’s Chaplain and Pastor of Manhattan’s Riverside Church, David was immersed in the communal power of cadence that ties word to music, emotion to thought and intention to deed. His voice is a commanding presence resonating with charisma capable of turning a sound into a stanza that marries melody to sea faring facts.

Coffin’s command of history explains the syncopation of shanty songs calling “many hands to make light work”. Standing on a capstan a crew-mate would begin a short shanty to help hoist sails, a longer shanty for hauling, and his favorite shanty “Roll the Old Chariot” when a ship was in the doldrums.

SAIL BOSTON – PRESS ROOM with permission granted by Robin Riebel

From Long Wharf, Boston Harbor Cruises anticipates running 46 narrated, 90 minute trips around the Tall Ships each day describing the rigs and tossing in a few fun facts from Robin Reibel’s Sail Boston research team. ( For instance the combined length of the Tall Ships would equal 8 Pru Towers or the distance between Copley Square to Government Center ~ aka~ the N.E. Patriots parade route). To catch the Reveler himself, Coffin narrates brunch cruises on summer weekends through September pointing out Boston Light, the oldest lighthouse in the Country as well as the City’s landmarks by the sea.

Twitter @SailBoston2017
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* According to Reibel safety issues are being managed by State Fire and Emergency teams, the FAA, and Homeland Security.