Sunday, August 9, 2015

El Galeón Andalucía

Since 2010, after leaving her homeport in Seville, El Galeón Andalucía has been cruising around the world visiting various ports and delighting hundreds of people. According to her crew members (there doesn't seem to be a great deal of information online), she is a 95% accurate replica of a Spanish treasure galleon from the 16th century. And happens to be the only one of her kind in the world.  
At one time, Spain was the single super-power in the world; she had a vast global empire encompassing portions of Africa, including Morocco, bits of India (Sri Lanka), and the Spanish East Indies, and of course great chunks of the Americas. She even controlled bits of Italy, France and the Netherlands. 
During the time that ships like El Galeón Andalucía were on the sea-roads, Spain was nearing bankruptcy and was entirely dependent on the income from the American Colonies. The Spanish were always searching for El Dorado, the lake of gold, to add to the thousands of tons of golden Aztec trinkets that were being turned into golden doubloons.   

The mainstay
We went aboard El Galeón Andalucía on a blustery day that couldn’t decide if it wanted to be cloudy or not (we alternated baking in the sun and shivering in the sea breeze), and took a number of pictures during our 45 minute tour. 
The cathead, used for hoisting and lowering
the anchor. It some ships, the end of it was
decorously carved with a lion's head
For those of you who have never been near the sea (my heart goes out to you), there was a strong smell of fish, and salt and lobster pots were piled up on the dock, and seagulls and turns were wheeling overhead, shrieking at us (probably inquiring if we were going to drop our sandwiches).
I’ve had the chance to go aboard several tall ships, but each new one always delights me as much as the last. There are always slight differences in how things are done aboard, but in essentials, they always have the same purpose. 
The great cabin
El Galeón Andalucía, though not large herself, is sixty feet longer than The Mayflower. She looked quite large and imposing from the dock, but once I got aboard her, I couldn’t help marveling at the courage of the people who were brave enough (or foolish enough) to make their living on the sea. 
Today, the ship is outfitted with a GPS system, but four hundred years ago, the chief form of navigation was dead reckoning,  where the Captain, adding up the direction and speed of the ship (and with a little bit of chance) ‘reckoned’ his position on an ill-drawn map. The Sextant, the next revolution in navigation after the compass, was not due for invention for another two hundred years. 
I was a bit disappointed with what the ship was like below decks; instead of showing the sorts of cargo the galleon would have been carrying in the sixteenth century, there was a mini movie theater about the construction of the ship. Which was nice…but we didn’t stay to see it.
All in all, if El Galeón Andalucía, hoves into a port near you, don’t hesitate to see it. The entry fee is well worth the history you get to experience when you are aboard. 
Looking up at the foretop.


  1. Wow, that sounds awesome! I think I would have been disappointed about the movie theater below decks, too :D
    I just read on The History Blog that parts of ships from the Armada have been washing ashore in Ireland. I'm always amazed at how much the fleet was devastated, not just by the English, but by the sea.

  2. Thank you for sharing your tour with us! It brought back splendid memories of the Golden Hind -- (and bully for Sir Francis Drake capturing something this size!)
    It is disappointing when historical places/ships/etc insist on having multimedia "informative" sections, instead of just letting you look. But the ship as a whole looks beautiful.
    Erm, did you mean seagulls and tErns? Sorry!

  3. Thanks so much, both of you, for your comments. I'm so sorry I haven't been really keeping up the blog...haven't really been feeling well, and the weather has been getting a lot colder, here.

    I'm glad, anyway, that you enjoyed the post. Thanks so much!