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Ropes, a lot of ropes! That was the first thing I noticed when I first came aboard the 17th Century replica of the Galleon Andalucia on her Manila visit. Docked at Pier 13 just behind the Manila Hotel, the galleon is open for public viewing until the 9th of October; after which, she sails to Cebu and Bohol, taking the route of her ancestors from a golden bygone era.
"Would you like to go up?" referring to the crow's nest at the main mast of the galleon, asked Miguel, the press officer cum chronicler cum sailor of the Andalucia. At first I thought he was kidding, but after a few seconds of finding no hints of triviality, I responded with "...and I thought you'll never ask!"
So after a few minutes of securing my safety harness, camera in tow, I was ready for my swashbuckling adventure of climbing up to the crow's nest of an actual galleon. With mental images of pirates swinging from mast to mast, I scaled the rope mesh ladders carefully and with the guidance of Miguel. More excited than being mindful of my trepidations, each step on the rope was an experience back in time with the only things lacking are an eye patch, a sword, and a parrot on the shoulder to complete the drama.
And the view from the top? It was exhilarating indeed!
Built by the Nao Victoria Foundation of Spain under the design of Seville Ignacio Fernandez Vial, a historic shipbuilder; the galleon Andalucia is 51 meters long, comprising of 6 decks with a usable floor area of 320 square meters, 3 masts with seven sails, and about 40 feet in height.
She is a product of extensive historical research and many hours of yacht design techniques with the combine knowledge of the builders of 17th century and technologies from the 21st century.
The ship's body is made of iroko wood, oak and pine fiberglass and polyester resin, cast iron, wrought iron and galvanized iron nails. Two engines of 350hp each assist the galleon during port arrivals and departures, as well as during bad weathers and wind mis-directions. 170 tons of concrete and iron served as the ship's ballast and stabilizers in the bottom deck.
The arrival of the galleon Andalucia was the highlight of the 1st Día Del Galeón Festival being hosted by the Philippines under UNESCO which declared October 8 as Galleon Day to commemorate the beginnings of world trade and cross-cultural exchange.
The name of the ship, Andalucia, refers to the land of the galleon's birth. Andalusia, located at the south of Central Madrid, with Barcelona in the northeast is region to 3 million inhabitants. It is here where they lay the keel and raised the masts of the galleon, between Punta Umbria and Huelva.
"Andalusia is my home and the letters chosen to define the platform for the promotion of cultural heritage, tourism, gastronomy and business which are Andalusian as my masts, roofs, length, width, and crew and objectives of the voyage." Says the ship, "... as a shipwright, forever carve, chisel in hand, our defeat by the seas to China, we relive the story of the sailors of centuries past; mark in the collective memory of our stay here and there, we encourage greetings and handshakes, and opened the way for new relationships."
All VRs taken on October 6, 2010. The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org