(Aug. 9, 2013) The City Council gave formal approval this week to go ahead with plan to bring a 17th century sailing vessel to berth in downtown Ocean City at the end of the month.
“We had some changes in date, but as of now we’re back to the Aug. 20 to Sept. 2 timeframe,” city Special Events Director Frank Miller said.
The 170-foot-long vessel will be moored on along the bayside boardwalk, on Chicago Avenue from Third to Fourth streets. The northern, one-way portion of Chicago Avenue and the attached parking spaces will be closed and used for vendors, exhibits and staging tours of the ship itself.
The potential event was brought to the city by promoter Bryan Lilley, whose company B. Lilley Productions puts on the annual OC Air Show. Lilley is also active with the non-profit NASSF, which funds educational and historical events, including the tall ship event at the “Viva Florida 500” celebration this year commemorating the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Florida by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon.
The featured ship at the Florida event in May was from the Nao Victoria Foundation, a non-profit group based in Spain that primarily deals with historical events relating to the 16th century age of Spanish exploration. Known simply as “El Galeon,” the six-deck, 120-foot-high vessel replicates those that were sailed at the time and is essentially a floating museum.
“It’ll definitely be the first thing you notice coming over the Route 50 Bridge,” Miller said.
Under the approved agreement with the NASSF, the city will be shouldering half of the $5,920 worth of work that will need to be done in the next two weeks to prepare the site. The town will be installing four tie-down cleats anchored by concrete mats beneath the bayside boardwalk to moor the ship.
The agreement also requires $1 million in insurance from the NASSF and frees the town from any liability or damages associated with brining the ship into town. However, City Engineer Terry McGean said earlier that he is confident the vessel will fit through the drawbridge on Route 50 and has a shallow enough draft to navigate the bay channel.
The city had originally desired to berth the ship at Sunset Park by joining the municipal pier there with the adjacent pier at the Coast Guard station. However, federal red tape related to modifying Coast Guard property prevented the city from securing those designs in time for the ship’s availability this month.