I love tall ships. I have ever since I was a kid. I find it awe inspiring these massive wooden creatures sailed the world with very little in the way of charts, navigation and weather forecasting. If they hit rocks, they drowned or were forced to a life on the land they struck. There they would life out their life unless another ship ventured into the same waters. The same is true of they ran around at a high tide. There was no calling the Coastguard for help. Life aboard was rough. Food would go rancid, disease spread quickly among crew, the quarters were tight and the working days were long and hard. Even so today, especially for sailors, there in an attraction like a moth towards light to these ships. In English schools we learned about the great adventure of such ships. The most famous of which was perhaps the Cutty Sark, a British built tea clipper. I regret never having the chance to set foot aboard the Cutty Sark located in Greenwich on the river Thames. She was the last of the big clippers before the era of steam ships and has been meticulously restored. Yes, there is a little piece of me that loves these old ships and until today, I have never set foot one.
While here in St. Augustine, El Galeón is at the same marina. El Galeón is a full scale replica of the 16th century Spanish cargo ships sailing the Eastern US Coast. El Galeón was hand built by the few remaining craftsmen in the world possessing the necessary skills. This style of ship was also a favorite amongst pirates during its era. Of course, the pirates added more cannons and terrorized the Caribbean waters looking for targets like El Galeón, especially if they were carrying gold, or other forms of payment for cargo unloaded.
This ship has sailed many ports on the east coast. I am so glad it is here. We did not know about it until we got here. Oh, what I would give to sail on a boat like this. If I half close my eyes, I can hear the creaking ropes and wooden decks, feel the salty wind on my face and imagine the movement of the ship on the ocean. As I write this the conversation I had with one of the young crew was too funny. She said she was so excited about the prospect to sail on a tall ship even if it meant swabbing decks. She heard about crewing opportunities and jumped at the chance. How romantic and cool would it be? Now it has become old. The romance of swabbing decks and living with other crew in close quarters has long since worn off. I suppose everything gets tiring at some point. She was toying with the idea of staying with the ship long enough for a crossing of the Atlantic later this year as it heads back to Europe. My advice; do it! You will never get a chance again.
Armed with a camera, we spent a few hours climbing around El Galeón. (click any picture to start a slide show)