Like a silent ghost, El Galéon slipped into Greenport Harbor Monday evening.
The real-life moving museum’s visit, sponsored by the Village of Greenport and the East End Seaport Museum, will continue with tours through Sunday.
The 170-foot, 495-ton ship is fashioned after a 17th Century Spanish galleon, which is what cargo ships were called in Spain during the 300 years they plied their trade from the 16th to 18th centuries.
According to the ship’s project manager, Fernando Viota, typical cargo in those days included mostly spices, livestock and slaves.
The replica El Galéon was built in 2009 by the Nao Victoria Foundation, a non-profit organization, based in Seville, that constructs historical ships to educate and promote Spain’s maritime history.
As Viota explained, the replica is not based on one specific ship, but is more of a composite of ships from that time period.
“It took three years to research the ship before they even started building it,” Viota said. “We didn’t have a full plan for a galleon, so we had to mix three different galleons to build it.”
The ship took about 18 months to build, then immediately began its sailing tour in 2010, visiting countries like China, Singapore, The Phillipines and Sri Lanka. In 2013, El Galéon crossed the Atlantic Ocean for the first time to visit the ports of Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico. It has spent the past three years touring the eastern ports of the U.S., taking part in celebrations like the 500-year-anniversary of the discovery of Florida and the 400th anniversary of the historic city of St. Augustine.
While a traditional galleon needed as many as 150 crewmen to operate it, nowadays, thanks to modern technology, El Galeon only requires about 19 crew men and women, plus the captain. All crew members are volunteers. Some are college students earning extra credit, while others come from a wide variety of backgrounds and nationalities to join the crew and learn how to sail.
Viota himself worked for a market research company before quitting his day job to join El Galéon three years ago.
“Sailing experience is not necessary,” he said. “They will be trained, but they must stay aboard for at least four months in order to learn the basics and master them.”
By 11 a.m. Tuesday morning visitors were already stepping aboard El Galéon to get a first look at her.
Donald and Kathy Player of Lynbrook just happened upon the tall ship during their annual visit to the North Fork.
“We come out here every year to stop at a few farm stands and go to Claudio’s, so we were very lucky,” Mr. Player said.
“I thought it was wonderful to see,” his wife added. “The Captain’s quarters was the most interesting.”
After Greenport, El Galéon will head south to Alexandria, Virginia. The ship will winter for several months in Puerto Rico before continuing its tour in 2017.
The ship will remain in Greenport until Sunday, October 23. Tours will run every day from 10 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., except Sunday, when the tours will end at 6 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 5 to 12, and children under 5 are free.
Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the ship, while crew members are on hand to offer additional information. Free tours for Greenport residents will be available tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 19, from 3 to 5 p.m.