Beginning in the mid-1500s, Spain discovered and colonized much of the Caribbean and of today’s Florida. For centuries hundreds of Spanish galleons transported goods and people to and from its colonies in the New World, returning northward along the Gulf Stream laden with gold, silver, gems and other treasures. The galleon was the era’s main ocean going transport “workhorse”, used by many European countries.
In 2010 to celebrate five centuries since this historic feat, Spain built an accurate replica of the San Pelayo, the flagship galleon of Pedro Menendez, founder of Saint Augustine. Named El Galeón Andalucía , it has visited many ports, especially around Florida, accompanied at times by the Nao Victoria, a replica of Ferdinand Magellan’s tiny 85 ft ship that first circumnavigated the globe. It is authentic in every detail, 170 feet in length and displacing 495 tons, with a crew of 28 and 9000 square feet of sail. Its equipment and furnishings are just like those of its namesake, but it also has (hidden) engines for use in case of emergencies. The world’s only functional galleon, for more than three weeks it sailed from its home port of Seville across the Atlantic to Puerto Rico, then
on to Florida. It stopped in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Cape Canaveral (what a contrast that must have been!) before spending four months in Saint Augustine, which is now its North American “home port”. It continues to visit other American cities and to take part in tall ship regattas. For more information: http://tallshipevent.com/About_the_Galeon.html
We had the great pleasure of visiting the Andalucía in late February 2014. Although I have seen many tall ships, have sailed in one and been aboard several others during my military career, I consider the opportunity to visit this spectacular replica to have been one of the highlights of my life. The use of a flash was not permitted below decks, but I did get a number of hand-held shots. I hope this article will prove as interesting to you as the experience was to Margo and me. As usual, to enlarge any individual photo, simply click on it.
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