OCEAN CITY – A 16th century replica of the Spanish Navy tall ship the Nao Victoria Galeon will be arriving in Ocean City in late August offering tours and exhibits of its history.
Last week the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Commission was presented with a private event application from Bryan Lilley of National Air, Sea & Space Foundation (NASSF) and Director of Development Steve Webster to dock the Nao Victoria Galeon in Ocean City for a period of 30 days to add to the resort’s total experience.
According to NASSF, the Galleon is a replica of the 16th century ships that Spanish explorers sailed on to discover Florida and much of the new world. The ship will provide an interactive tour, along with exhibits telling its history. It is 170 feet long, almost 50 feet wide and has six decks with a crew of 25.
The organizers had proposed to bring the Nao Victoria Galeon to Ocean City on Aug. 20 and have it open to the public Aug. 23-Sept. 22, about a 30-day period. Two locations were proposed to dock the ship — the bayside pier between 3rd and 4th streets or Sunset Park using the U.S. Coast Guard Pier.
The event organizers preferred the 3rd and 4th streets location that would provide space for exhibits across the street in parking spaces or the ball fields, as well as the organizer suggested partnering with the town and having vendors in the area during Sunfest.
The commission discussed several concerns associated with the 3rd and 4th streets location, including the displacement of those fishing off the pier and the Fire Marshal’s Office concerns over the ball fields being used as exhibit or vendor space as it is currently used as a medevac area.
Although the commission was weary whether the details would be worked out in time for the event to happen this summer, the positives to having another attraction added to the downtown swayed them to pass the event onto the full Mayor and City Council for discussion.
During Tuesday afternoon’s Mayor and City Council work session, Recreation and Park Commission Chair Joe Mitrecic presented the council with the concept. That day he had received word NASSF had shortened the proposed length of time of having the tall ship in the resort from 30 days to 14, eliminating Sunfest from the equation. The ship would still arrive on Aug. 20, be open to the public on Aug. 23 and set sail after Labor Day.
“So it’s much shorter and much more peaceful amount of time,” Mitrecic said.
Webster was present to fill the Mayor and City Council in on the ship’s travels. Recently the Nao Victoria sailed for 27 days from Spain to Port Canaveral, Fla., where it was docked to celebrate the state’s 500th anniversary. The ship is now about leave St. Augustine, Fla. and travel to New York City. From there, it will arrive in Ocean City.
“The gentleman that runs the foundation, the Nao Victoria, actually came here [Ocean City] on a J-1 visa and spent three months in Ocean City, so he actually knows Ocean City very well and he really wants to bring this opportunity to town,” Webster said.
Webster continued with the ship only being 170 feet long only about two thirds of the bulkhead between 3rd and 4th streets will be closed. That will leave space to fish between 2nd and 3rd streets. He added the ball fields have also been removed from the proposal leaving the park open for a medevac area.
Mayor Rick Meehan pointed out the water along that area is a channel and moves quickly.
“I ran the numbers and formulas of how much a load the current will put on the ship … even with the high current there because it is packing against the bow and the stern of the ship,” City Engineer Terry McGean said. “The wind load is actually much greater…so the two concrete pads that I designed are set to hold the ship under maximum current and a 50 mph wind load, and those will be east of the bulkhead, and are designed to take on the entire load of the ship instead of on the bulkhead. Except for when the ship is blowing into the bulkhead that’s fine, that actually helps.”
McGean’s design included installation of cleats into the pier. Once the ship leaves, the cleats will remain, but will be covered to avoid becoming a tripping hazard. The total cost to the town to modify the 3rd to 4th streets location will run around $3,000.
Councilwoman Margaret Pillas wanted to see a Memorandum of Understanding or a separate document drawn up involving liability for both parties, NASSF and the Town of Ocean City. She made a motion to approve the event in that regard and the council voted unanimously to approve.