The Tall Ships Are Coming Back to Boston Harbor in 2017

It’s the first time since 2009 that they’ll set sail for the city’s shorelines.

The Tall Ships are setting sail and coming back to Boston for the first time in nearly a decade.

On Wednesday, September 3, Mayor Marty Walsh joined officials from Sail Boston, Inc., as well as representatives from the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, the United States Coast Guard, and MassPORT to announce the return of the seacoast spectacle.

The five-day event, which will take place in June 2017, is expected to bring the largest fleet of Tall Ships to Boston Harbor since 2000, and attract millions of spectators as it has in years past.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase Boston’s evolving waterfront area, and to position Boston as an attractive destination for visitors to take in this historic event. I’m proud to have our city take part in hosting the Tall Ships,” said Walsh in a statement sent to Boston.

The Board Directors from Sail Boston, Inc., the nonprofit group behind the event, said 50 vessels from more than 20 countries around the world will congregate in the city’s waters as part of the international Rendez-Vous 2017 regatta. The voyage will begin in England before the vessels ship off to Portugal, Bermuda, and then Boston. From Boston, the fleet will then sail to Quebec City for Canada’s National 150th Celebration, according to details.

“All eyes will be on these incredible ships and all eyes will be on Boston and our burgeoning waterfront,” said Patrick Moscaritolo, President and CEO of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The Sail Boston Board of Directors, led by Chairman Mike Mooney, is working diligently to make this a very memorable event.”

The Tall Ships haven’t graced the Boston Harbor since 2009, when a scaled-back version of the event brought the large boats to the coast following a feud with then-mayor Tom Menino. At the time, Menino was reluctant to allow the event to take place, because nine years prior, in 2000, the city was left with a $1.6 million tab for security and clean-up costs after state officials failed to reimburse the city for hosting the celebration.

Despite his protestations to keep the historical ships from coming to the area as part of an international regatta in 2009, Sail Boston displayed the vessels in the harbor after the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority stepped in at the last minute and provided $1 million to go toward funds to cover some of the expenses tied to security details.

In both 2000 and 2009, Boston benefited from the economic impacts of the ship show after millions of people flocked to the city and filled up restaurants and hotel rooms during their stay to catch sight of the vessels as they cruised through the ocean.

Boston is the only U.S. port of call for the 2017 planned event.

  • Paul Lang

    In 2000, Boston’s “hospitality” amounted to providing fields so that some of the sailors could play soccer (same story at all the other Tall Ships ports up and down the East Coast), plus, “You’re on your own” hikes downtown. How about some real hospitality this time, presenting Boston Culture: Passes to Special Concerts, Tours, and Exhibits? How about some language-qualified Guides and Tours? How about some Home Stay?

  • Mike McVeigh

    As a full time professional Schooner Bum I am taken aback by hearing the Government Whine about costs to host these magnificent vessels.
    history,tradition, and character is what keeps me working on these vessels. These paper pusher fools would not last a week working onboard.