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Pictured: Stunning tall ship visits Belfast

By Sue Doherty

Anyone strolling along Belfast's docks on Sunday or Monday morning would have been treated to the sight of a beautiful traditional tall ship moored at the quays.

The Dutch schooner barque Thalassa was in port for a quick visit, having arrived on Sunday morning and left for Londonderry at lunchtime on Monday.

Although the 39 metre long vessel is not historic - it was built in 1980 - the ship certainly looks centuries old.

The barquentine is rigged according to old traditions, with rope fastened sails billowing majestically from its three tall masts. Unfortunately, as is the case with tall ships, sails are lowered on entering Belfast lough.

In 1985, the Thalassa, which was just five years old, sank.

All was not lost however, as Arnold Hilkema and Jacob Dan bought the wreck, totally rebuilt and refitted the ship and relaunched it in 1995.

The owners proudly describe the imposing schooner as "one of the most beautiful and fastest" of the Dutch fleet.

Since 2004, the Thalassa has taken part in tall ships races, regattas and other events all over the world.

It is also used for training as well as excursions, including 'Whiskey and Golf tours' of Scotland, and charter hire.

A spokesperson for Belfast Harbour said the vessel is due to visit Belfast a number of times over the coming month.

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