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Setting sail on El Galeon

You might have found yourself a bit baffled the last time you drove down the Route 50 bridge into Ocean City and saw, out in the water by 3rd street, an enormous 17th century Spanish ship. El Galeon is a replica of a 17th century ship called a galleon, a popular sailing vessel in Spain from the 15th to 17th century, first used for war and later for trade. 

If you’ve been in Ocean City sometime in the late summer during the past three years, you might already be familiar with El Galeon–otherwise, it might be a sort of imposing mystery. But once you walk the decks of the big and beautiful ship, the mystery unravels as you read all about the purpose and history of the giant sea craft. Exploring a vessel that’s over 150 feet and resembles an old pirate ship is certainly a unique experience in Ocean City, and one that you’ll want to take advantage of soon–El Galeon is only in town until August 27, and after that you’ll have to wait until it (hopefully!) returns next year.

See the photos below for more information about OC’s favorite touring replica ship. 

El Galeon
First, just a glimpse of the vessel’s history: the construction of El Galeon was completed in 2010 by the Nao Victoria Foundation in Huelva, Spain. Since 2010, it’s traveled to four different continents and has sailed across the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Southern China Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Bosporus Strait and the Caribbean Sea. El Galeon is always on the move, and has covered over 50,000 nautical miles.
This is the main deck of the ship. Galleons like this one were exceptionally innovative for their time, designed to cross the oceans as efficiently as possible and carry anywhere from 500 to 1,200 tons. Until the mid-17th century, no shipbuilder was allowed to leave Spain for fear they would teach the craft to other nations. 
Second Officer Francisco Serrano hails from Barcelona, but his summers are spent traversing international waters on El Galeon. “This is the third time it’s been in Ocean City,” Serrano said. “By the end of the summer we come here and then usually during the winters we go down to Savannah before we jump to Puerto Rico…Because there’s no season for us in the winter up here on the East Coast, in the states. So we go down there, it’s a nice place to be.”
El Galeon has two lower levels, the first of which is equipped with 10 cannons. This is also where you’ll find plaques depicting life on the ships and their centuries-old histories, and down another flight of stairs is a small theater. 
El Galeon ship
Once El Galeon leaves Ocean City, it’ll head to Kingston, New York for a 9-day stop before retiring to San Juan, Puerto Rico to spend the colder months. Many of its summers have been spent touring up and down the coast of North and South America, so it’s likely that the ship will be back again next year. 
Kristin is a writer and photographer in Ocean City, Maryland, and is the content manager for OceanCity.com and other State Ventures, LLC sites. She loves getting reader-submitted stories and photos, so send her an email anytime. She also works part-time at the Art League of Ocean City and the Ocean City Film Festival and lives just off the peninsula with her dog and fiancé. Her photos can be found on Instagram @oc_kristin.

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