OCEAN CITY — The replica tall ship El Galeon Andalucia could be making a return trip to Ocean City in August after a two-year absence, but there are still more details to work out before it becomes a reality.
Special Events Director Frank Miller told the Recreation and Parks Committee this week the tall ship could return for as long as three weeks at the end of August. The 170-foot, 500-ton tall ship replica visited Ocean City twice in recent years, arriving in the resort for the first time in August 2013 and returning during the same month the following year.
Miller said the negotiations are ongoing and there are still some details to work out. The last two times El Galeon Andalucia came to Ocean City, the details on mooring, transport in and out of the Inlet, individual and group tours and everything else associated with the replica late 16th Century fabled merchant vessel’s stay in Ocean City were handled through a partnership with the National Air, Sea and Space Foundation (NASSF). This time around, the town is working directly with the replica tall ship’s owner, the NAO Victoria Foundation.
“It’s a little different this time,” Miller told the committee on Tuesday. “This time, the NASSF is not involved, and we’re dealing directly with the NAO Foundation exclusively. There are some costs the NASSF handled the last time around that would fall on us.”
Miller cited a few examples. The last time El Galeon came to Ocean City, Tow Boat US provided services such as checking the water depth, escorting the vessel through the Inlet and the Route 50 drawbridge and providing a water taxi service for the crew when El Galeon could not come through the Inlet as planned because of low tides. In addition, there could be other costs to the city such as providing the appropriate level of electric service at the bayside Boardwalk between 3rd and 4th streets where the tall ship would dock, along with also possible items including tents, portable bathrooms and trash cans, for example. Miller said NAO Victoria Foundation might also request additional security, which could come in the form of added Ocean City Police Department officers or perhaps hiring an outside agency.
The costs of the services the town might need to provide could be offset from revenue generated during the event. Miller said the foundation does have a revenue-sharing policy including 10 percent of the net profit on ticket sales for tours and 30 percent of the net revenue generated by special events on the vessel including sunset receptions on El Galeon, for example.
Miller said he is working through the details with the NAO Victoria Foundation, but it appears the El Galeon Andalucia could make a return trip to Ocean City late this summer.
“They’re targeting the last three weeks in August,” he said. “I don’t have an estimate yet on the total cost. I would like to bring this before the full Mayor and Council with a presentation and a cost estimate.”
The El Galleon Andalucia created quite a stir the first time it visited Ocean City in August 2013, first when it appeared in the haze offshore and made its way through the Inlet with an escort of dozens of other vessels, and then when it narrowly squeezed through the Route 50 drawbridge to its final mooring area along the bulkhead at 3rd and 4th Streets. The same process played out when the tall ship returned in August 2014.
Each time, the El Galleon Andalucia spent nearly a month moored in Ocean City, hosting thousands of curiosity seekers and hundreds more school-aged kids on daily tours. The crew invited tourists aboard and showed them the ins and outs of the five-deck vessel and a glimpse of life aboard a working merchant ship from several centuries ago.