OCEAN CITY – The tall ship El Galeon departed Ocean City this week, leaving many good memories behind in its wake.
The El Galeon arrived in Ocean City on Wednesday, Aug. 21, and before it made its departure early Tuesday morning, city officials presented the tall ship’s crew with a Key to the City. The Galeon’s next stop is Puerto Rico where it will reportedly be used in a NBC miniseries called Crossbones, featuring John Malkovich as the legendary Blackbeard.
“We had between 14,000 and 15,000 people visit the ship area. We thank the Town of Ocean City and the Nao Victoria Foundation for making this event such a success in such a short time,” said Bryan Lilley, president of the National, Sea, Air & Space Foundation.
According to the National, Air & Space Foundation, El Galeon is a replica of the 16th century ships that Spanish explorers sailed on to discover much of the new world.
The galeon was a type of ocean going ship that evolved from the carrack in the second half of 16th century. Galeons were constructed from oak, pine and various hardwoods for hull and decking. Hulls were usually carvel-built. Hundreds of expert tradesmen, including carpenters, blacksmiths, shipwrights and pitch-melters worked day and night for months to make a galeon seaworthy.
To cover the expense, galeons were often funded by groups of wealthy businessmen who pooled resources for a new ship. Therefore, most galeons were originally consigned for trade, although those captured by rival states were usually put into military service.
The most common gun used aboard a galeon was the demi-culverin, although gun sizes up to demi-cannon were possible. Because of the long periods often spent at sea and poor conditions on board, many of the crew sometimes perished during the voyage; therefore advanced rigging systems were developed so that the vessel could be sailed home by an active sailing crew a fraction of the size aboard at departure.
The El Galeon was docked bayside between 3rd and 4th streets for its port-of-call in Ocean City. The exterior was out in the open for all to see, and interior tours were available by purchasing a ticket.
Last Wednesday, an estimated 457 local students got a first-hand look at the vessel inside and out and gained valuable lessons about the history of the ship and life at sea from crew members, teachers and staff.
“They had over 13,000 visitors tour that boat. That far exceeded the number that toured the boat during the same time period when it was in New York City. It was a tremendous event, and I thought it was very educational,” Mayor Rick Meehan said during Tuesday evening’s council meeting. “Everybody I talked to when they went down there, whether they boarded the vessel or not, just thought it was great to have here … and I hope it is something that we can do again in the future.”