By Mallory Hopkins | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Spanish ship, El Galeon, took off from St. Augustine Municipal Marina in late September, sailing off toward new ports that include Costa Rica and eventually back to Spain. El Galeon was built in 2009 as a replica of a 17th century Spanish ship. The ship was built in Huelva, Spain, and was finished in Sevilla, where many of the crew are from.
El Galeon can go as fast as 12 knots, and its average speed is about 8 knots. The ship comes to the St. Augustine area seasonally, and had returned to its regular dock beside the Bridge of Lions in September to celebrate the city’s 450th anniversary. About 20 people live on the ship when it is docked, but it takes about 30 to sail it. Most of the crew is made up of volunteers from the Nao Victoria Foundation, which is based in Spain.
For Flagler College sophomore Braya Silkey, the ship had become a home away from home as she took the opportunity to travel up the east coast on the ship with the crew this past summer. The ship traveled as far north as Portland, Maine.
“I would always rush, but on the ship, they taught me to slow down and that not everything is a deadline,” said Silkey when asked about what she took away from such a unique experience with the mostly Spanish crew. “They greet you by kissing your cheek and they’re very hands-on people … that made me feel more welcome.”
When asked what her favorite part of sailing was, Silkey said, “As a college student, having a free home-cooked meal for every meal was awesome.” There are a couple chefs that live on the ship with the crew, and many meals are based off of traditional Spanish cuisine.
“I’m from the middle of nowhere, but you still get light pollution,” she said. “It’s a different world on the ocean … I’d never seen that many stars.”
You can find more information on the ship and volunteering at http://www.elgaleon.org/index.html.