OCEAN CITY — A change in plans will now have the replica tall ship El Galeon Andalucia arriving off the coast of Ocean City Thursday afternoon with its trip through the Inlet pushed to midday Friday.
The original plans called for El Galeon to arrive off the coast of Ocean City on Thursday morning and pass through the Inlet and the Route 50 drawbridge to its final berth around midday. El Galeon is heading to Ocean City from New York. However, a late schedule change including an additional fuel stop has moved the timetable back for an arrival in the resort area around 3 p.m. on Thursday and come through the Inlet and up the shallow bay on the high tide on Friday, roughly between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
An added bonus from the timetable change could be an opportunity for the vessel to unfurl its massive sails and do an informal pass in review along the resort coast for residents and visitors. A formal pass in review was part of the original plan when El Galeon was scheduled to arrive on Thursday morning, but there were challenges with passing under full sail and then getting the sails furled and the yards up to meet the narrow high tide window.
Now, with the vessel arriving on Thursday afternoon and anchoring off the coast overnight before its trip through the Inlet Friday, the hope is El Galeon will have the opportunity to show off its majestic sails on Thursday evening. According to the tentative plan, it will arrive off the coast and sail north and then southeast before anchoring off the coast in advance of its trip through the Inlet.
The 170-foot, 500-ton tall ship replica is expected to delight locals and visitors as it passes through the Inlet on Friday and arrives at its temporary home along 2nd and 3rd streets. El Galeon draws about 10-and-a-half feet and the water depth in that stretch of bay between the Inlet and the bridge is about 11 feet at high tide, leaving a small margin of error. In addition, the vessel has about one foot on either side as it passes through the drawbridge, causing the thousands of spectators to hold their collective breath as the vessel is escorted through by tow boats and an armada of smaller vessels.
El Galeon made two successful stops in Ocean City, first in 2013 and again in 2014, and delighted thousands of visitors and school-age kids with daily tours and lavish receptions. The park area around the tall ship’s mooring location will become a festival of sorts for the three-plus weeks El Galeon is in Ocean City with ticket booths, vendors and information kiosks, for example. When El Galeon last came to Ocean City in 2014, roughly 13,000 visitors toured the vessel including individual and group tours and school and summer camp tours. The vessel will also host evening receptions on the deck including pre-arranged tours and cocktail parties. El Galeon will remain at its Ocean City location until it is scheduled to depart on Aug. 28.