OCEAN CITY – The town and the National Air, Sea and Space Foundation settled some last-minute business this week in advance of next week’s arrival of the Spanish tall ship El Galeon Andalucia.
The El Galeon Andalucia is setting sail on a five-month tour of the East Coast stopping in Ocean City for its first port-of call. According to National Air, Sea and Space Foundation (NASSF), the exact date and time of El Galeon’s arrival will be announced early this week depending on weather and tides, but the tall ship is expected to make its appearance either July 30 or July 31 mid-day. The tall ship will be docked at the bayside boardwalk between 3rd and 4th streets.
El Galeon is a replica of the late 16th Century fabled merchant vessels and war ships. The 170-foot long, 500-ton ship is the only Galeon class vessel sailing today. Five of the seven decks will be available for the public to tour. It carries an all-Spanish crew of 25 sailors.
El Galeon is currently featured in the NBC series Crossbones starring John Malkovich as the legendary pirate Blackbeard that airs on Friday nights. After visiting Ocean City last summer, the ship spent three months in Puerto Rico where the series was filmed.
“El Galeon will bring the spirit of discovery and exploration to over 200,000 visitors on its Sail to Sunny Fort Lauderdale,” said Bryan Lilley, head of the NASSF. “When you step onboard the ship, it’s like traveling back in time 500 years to experience for yourself what it was like to explore the New World.”
El Galeon will spend the month of August in Ocean City and will then make seven ports-of-call en route to Fort Lauderdale where it will be featured in the nationally televised Winterfest Boat Parade on Dec. 13. Port-of-calls include Annapolis, Morehead City, N.C., Savannah, Ga. and Port Canaveral, Fla. The ship will also represent Spain at the Star Spangled Sailabration in Baltimore to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner.
The NASSF will invite thousands of public school students on board El Galeon in each port to participate in the Future Explorers Education Program, part of its non-profit mission to educate youth in air, sea and space.
“When the ship sails into a port, it’s like bringing a hands on learning experience on the scale of a field trip to St. Augustine, Jamestown or Plymouth to the community,” Lilley said. “The foundation is proud to be able to offer such an opportunity to public school students free of charge.”
In April, Lilley came before the Ocean City Mayor and City Council to announce not only the return of El Galeon Andalucia to Ocean City this summer but also its smaller sister ship, Nao Victoria, an exact replica of Ferdinand Magellan’s ship that was the first to circumnavigate the globe on a three-year, 32,000-mile voyage from 1519-1522.
However, the Nao Victoria has experienced mechanical problems and will remain in St. Augustine, Fla. until the issue is resolved, according to Lilley, and may have to eventually return to Spain, but NASSF have begun discussions over the Nao Victoria joining the tour in 2015.
“It is a different ship because it is an all wooden haul, and it is much more challenging, so they are having some technical issues with it,” Lilley said. “In the future, we hope to be able to have it join El Galeon.”
On Monday evening, Ocean City Special Events Superintendent Frank Miller presented the Mayor and Council with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the tall ship. Miller explained, although two vessels were initially proposed, only El Galeon will make the journey to Ocean City and dock from Aug. 1-Sept. 1.
The MOU removed the installation of the second set of cleats for the Nao Victoria. Last year, before El Galeon arrived, the town prepared by installing cleats into the pier and two concrete pads to hold the ship in maximum current and a 50 mph wind load positioned east of the bulkhead. It was designed to take on the entire load of the ship instead of the bulkhead. The total cost to the town was about $3,000.
The MOU also addresses the reimbursement of lost revenue for 12 parking spaces on Chicago Ave. between 3rd and 4th streets that are included in the venue space due to the extended duration of the vessel’s stay for a month compared to the two-week visit last year.
NASSF will recoup lost parking revenue for 32 days of 12 parking spaces in the amount of $2,725, plus pay $500 for banner replacements on the Route 50 Bridge to advertise the event.
El Galeon Andalucia will be open for public tours daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in each port-of-call beginning Aug. 1. Visit www.TallShipEvent.com for more information.