Navigare necesse est !
This week-end, Kristiansand and its people have opened its port and our hearts to more than 80 Tall Ships, participating in the races and activities of Tall Ships Races 2015. What a sight ! Those who know, say that it’s almost impossible to estimate the number of visitors, but that they are in the hundreds of thousands- that’s for sure.
The Port of Kristiansand is among the organizers, and with the support of all the commercial players, employees and volunteers, the normally closed of sections of the Port Area, are transformed to friendly, inviting and hospitable spaces for both sailors and visitors. The ships fly flags from all corners of the world, with ships from faraway places like Equador, India, Indonesia, Russia, Australia and many more. They seem to be at home here, in my hometown city, Kristiansand.
This city is built on its maritime traditions as a trading port, offering safe haven for the traders of the Baltic and miltary strength to stave off Buccaneers and Men O’ War of hostile nations, preying on the civilian trade crafts that kept channels of communications open. Trade was a necessity to exchange goods and ideas between countries and their people, and trade routes were kept open even in the most trying times. The importance of this is dramatically recorded by Henrik Ibsen in his poem Terje Vigen
The Port, the Ships and their crew of all creeds, nationalities and ages, bear witness of our own past. Nowadays, ships come in during night, and unseen load or offload their cargoes. For security reasons, the port is closed off, and different from our recent history, very few young people choose to have a career at Sea. Still, our maritime traditions are strong. The Port itself is a cornerstone for our commercial activities and as hundreds of thousands of visitors clearly show – this is were norwegian identity is. The sight, the smell and the dream of these ships are part of our DNA.
True still- navigare necesse est- and thank you, City of Kristiansand, Port of Kristiansand
and Tall Ships Races 2015, for bringing this message to us. With our own Tall Ships Sørlandet, Christian Radich and Statsraad Lehmkuhl, Norway shows its strength and history as a seafaring people and nation. The institutions behind these three ships are struggling to keep up with the financing required for maintenance, operation and running of the ships. I urge all those visiting us now to pitch in, subscribe to the Friendship Association of the Ship of your dreams. And, to any politicians participating or reading – Don’t ever let these ships lay idle or be lost for future generations to enjoy.