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Visit of El Galeón opens door to city’s maritime history

Replica of 16th century Spanish ship

in St. Augustine through June 9

El Galeón, a 170 foot, 495 ton, authentic wooden replica of a 16th century galleon that was part of Spain’s West Indies fleet, sailed into Matanzas Bay on May 21 to start its two week visit to the Nation’s Oldest City. The ship will spend its time in St. Augustine at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina.

St. Augustine is the final of four Florida stopovers for the El Galeón as it sails a historic route similar to Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León’s 500 years ago. The ship set sail from Puerto Rico on April 1 and will remain in St. Augustine until June 9. The ship is owned and operated by the Nao Victoria Foundation of Seville, Spain.

El Galeón will cover more than 900 nautical miles, with 28 crewmembers on board maneuvering more than 9,600 square feet of sail area, the same way it was conducted in the 16th century. Its other stopovers in Florida before landing in St. Augustine were Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Cape Canaveral.

While in port, the ship will be open to public offering visitors the chance to learn about the maritime history that began centuries ago when galleons like the El Galeón reached Florida’s coast.

Ponce de León sailed from Puerto Rico on just such a vessel on 1513, the voyage that brought him to the coast of Florida on April 3 , the day he spotted land and named it La Florida.

St. Augustine’s founder, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, also arrived via a galleon a half century after Ponce de Leon aboard the San Pelayo, a ship even larger than the El Galeón, and named for Spain's first king. The San Pelayo carried 77 crewmen, 18 gunners, and transported 317 soldiers as well as provisions and cargo. The fleet accompanying the San Pelayo transported 800 colonists and supplies needed to establish St. Augustine on September 8, 1565.

El Galeón will be open daily from 9:00am to 6:00pm at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, 111 Avenida Menendez. Tickets are $8 for youth age six to 12, $15 for adults, and youth five and under are free. Additional information and tickets are available at the Viva Florida 500 web site or at any of the Ripley's Red Train ticket outlets in St. Augustine including the one at the Municipal Marina.

The Voyage of El Galeón is produced by Viva Florida 500/Visit Florida in conjunction with the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration, City of St. Augustine, The Colonial Quarter, the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council and the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau. The El Galeón program is sponsored by Florida Power & Light.


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