The Grand Replicated Spanish Galleon - El Galeón
Carole and I got up one morning, expecting our ship, the Ventura, to dock in Ibiza. The day did not look too bad and we were rather excited. Carole and I had never been to the Spanish Island before. We went up onto the top deck towards the big canteen for breakfast. I could not help noticing how windy it was in the open. We were glad to enter the sliding doors of the self-service restaurant. As we sat down to eat, the Captain came over the speaker and said they were having trouble entering the harbour to dock. The wind was 32 knots and they needed it to be below 28 knots.
As time went on, the pilots attempted on three occasions but had to abandon the idea of Ventura docking at Ibiza. It was no good. The wind would not drop to within the safety limits. Eventually, the Captain came on the speaker again and said we were heading back to the Spanish mainland and towards Cartagena. We were a little disappointed. Cartagena was our next port of call and we were obviously going to get there a day beforehand.
To our delight, Cartagena would prove to be a big bonus for us. The port was a lovely place and there was a special replica Spanish galleon in the arena. It is a museum ship that sails the world on a sort of moving celebration of the old Spanish exploration days. The ship is just referred to as, El Galeón. Of course, we had no idea that the ship would be in port. We caught the show by luck.
El Galeón in Cartagena
Cartagena at Night.
It was night time when the Ventura arrived at Cartagena and berthed. We were allowed to disembark and go for a walk because the town centre is very close to the dock. The high street was pretty with a very Christmas feel. All the shops were open and the Spanish were doing last moment shopping. It was a splendid sight and we enjoyed walking about the many shops. My imagination was already gripped because prior to crossing the road into the shopping centre, we had come across the Spanish Galleon in the dock.
I filmed my night time walk about the moored historical ship on the mobile phone. We had all the next day to explore. As I walked about the shopping centre at night, I was wondering and hoping that the grand Spanish Galleon would be open to the public. There was a bridge ramp for the vessel. Obviously, it was closed at night, but I felt sure it would open in the morning. I do enjoy looking at ships. Especially historical ones. I had seen a replica Portuguese ship of Christopher Columbus times and now this Spanish Galleon would be the cherry on the cake for me. I would learn that the ship is called El Galeón San Pelayo. The design was based upon a ship that was sent on a mission within a fleet back in 1565. Florida was part of Colonial Spain’s possession and the French had formed a settlement there in violation of international treaties. The Spanish sent a fleet in response that was led by Captain Pedro Menendez
These ships of the day would return to Spain and come back to the Americas on many occasions. Maybe they were among the Spanish Armada some twenty odd years later. If not, ships of similar design were. I was awestruck by the galleon because it seemed so small. Our huge cruiser was moored a short distance away. It made El Galeon look like a rowing boat. However, once the observer got close to the historical vessel, I don’t think many would fail to be impressed by the craftsmanship and work that went into the ship. We had passed through a 100-knot wind and storm upon the Ventura. I had developed some idea as to the power of the sea. My mind boggled at the thought of the sailors from such times being aboard El Galeon in a storm. I even thought of this modern day replica. It sailed the world and the devoted historical staff that manned the museum ship would also have been through such weather. How did any of them cope? Especially if one had to climb the rigging in such dyer weather conditions.
From the Stern.
The Strange Looking Yacht was Huge.
We went to bed that night knowing the next morning would allow more time to explore Cartagena. I knew there was a huge Roman Amphitheatre with a museum upon entry. However, that was one thing we decided not to visit. I wanted to see El Galeon during the daylight and walk her deck and forecastle. I made a note to take my camera.
The next morning came. We skipped breakfast and went on to the dock. There was another strange sight across the water. A huge yacht. Or at least I think it was a yacht. It was not much smaller than our cruise liner, Ventura. It must have had multiple decks with three enormous thick masts. I had never seen a vessel like it. It was painted a battleship grey colour. I also noticed that it had a British red ensign at the stern. A merchant's vessel. I found it perplexing and do not know what the yacht/ship was for. I asked during the evening dinner, but everyone else was puzzled by the grand yacht-shaped ship too.
It was still too early for El Galeon to open so we went for a walk about the streets. The winter day was incredible for us. It was warm yet it was the 16th December. A wonderful clear blue sky made it seem as though it was still summer. When we returned to the dockside, there was a lot of activity around the Spanish Galleon. It was open.
It was just five euros to go aboard. I also bought the booklet about the project of making the replica El Galeon. The ship had generated a great deal of interest from us British visitors from the Ventura. Also, the local Spanish people were visiting too. The ship had been around the globe, visiting far-off destinations. It had obviously attracted many people. The whole ship had a feel of stepping back in the past. As much as I admired the workmanship of the vessel, I also appreciated how difficult it would be to sail the tempest seas. The craft looked so small in respect of severe storms. Yet men braved such elements and reached the Americas. I was like a child in a sweet shop. I tried to photograph as many different angles as possible.
Even the Captain’s quarters looked cramped. There were side rooms before these quarters where other officers slept. This was at the stern of the ship. I liked the balcony area outside the Captain’s cabin. It offered something of relaxation in calm weather. It was also a railed walkway that went around slightly to the port and starboard sides. Down in the hold was where the rank and file of the crew quartered. It must have been very cramped for them. I think one would need to be made of a certain fibre to have sailed in such bygone days. Definitely not for the faint-hearted. At a lower level near the hull, there was a small screen which showed the visitor how the replica was made. The whole process was shown in stages. It was narrated in Spanish but was simple to follow the development via the visual presentation.
I stayed on board for some time. As for the Roman amphitheatre, I later regretted not paying a visit here. I heard from others, during evening dinner, that it was also a sight to behold. Still, I felt lucky from the maritime point of view. We had seen the Portuguese 700th anniversary with an old replica sailing ship of the Columbus era. Then in Cartagena, we were lucky enough to see this wonderful El Galeon. It all made for a great cruise holiday.
The Stern with Balcony from Captain's Cabin.
Aboard El Galeón
El Galeón The Open Deck.
El Galeón - Wandering Around the Ship.
El Galeón - Going to the Lower Decks.
El Galeón - Cannons.
All Officer's Cabins Looked This Way.
© 2017 colin powell