16th Century Replica Spanish Galleon Arrives in St Augustine, Florida T

It's always a thrill to sail out to sea, feel the wind, ride the waves, see the dolphins play, the pelicans dive bomb, the sting ray jump, or the sea turtle surface.  It is a sensation of adventure, freedom, and sometimes pure escape that many centuries of peoples have experienced. We can only imagine what it may have been like over 500 years ago for brave explorers of the New World to cross the ocean.  Once you see this ship your wildest imagination will be transformed into reality.  Traveling by galleon is not exactly what anyone would consider a luxury cruise by today's standards despite having 28 crew members aboard. 

Today, we witnessed the arrival of El Galeon, up close and personal as she rode the four foot seas into the port of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  The above photo was taken in the middle of the Ocean Inlet while we were escorting this extraordinary replica through the channel. We led her all the way into the safe harbor of the city marina.  The galleon was built in Spain in 2009 by the Nao Victoria Foundation.  El Galeon is a massive 175 feet long. Our sailboat, Ariel, proudly accompanied El Galeon staying close by her side. Our 38 foot, small but mighty, yacht was finely decorated sporting international signal flags from the top of its 60 foot mast, our American flag, a St Augustine Yacht Club burgee and my husband's Commodore flag all waving in happy accompaniment.

The arrival of El Galeon is "particularly significant as the first galleon to arrive in the oldest city was the flagship of founder Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles. Named the San Pelayo, the 650 ton ship was considered to be one of the most powerful ships of its day. It was one of several ships that carried 800 colonists and suppiies to St. Augustine estabilishing the first permanent European settlement in the United States in 1565,  - St Augustine Record, May 21, 2013"

El Galeon has sailed over 4000 miles before arriving in North East Florida, the last of her four stops in Florida.  The galleon is celebrating the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon's naming of La Florida.  Read more about this celebration at Viva Florida.

A location in Ponte Vedra Beach at 30 degrees, 8 minutes north lattitude  is said to be the "the only known navigational reading recorded on Ponce de Leon's "Journey of Discovery," taken at noon, April 2, 1513 the day prior to his landing when he claimed La Florida for Spain.  You too can make your own discovery of this location in Ponte Vedra Beach driving along the southern route of Scenic A1A past Mickler Blvd.  There you will find a newly dedicated 15 foot statue of Ponce de Leon and an official historical marker in the Northern Beach Parking Lot of the the Guana-Tolomoto- Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM NERR).  Ponce can be seen pointing over the dunes by driving by but you may want to stop and visit, walk over to the beach to get the full impact of the site of his discovery. Pick up some sea shells or hunt for sharks teeth while you are there!

The El Galeon will remain in St. Augustine Municiple Marina for daily tours until June 9, 2013. We headed back to our slip in Camachee Cove Marina but before we did we enjoyed a photo op.  Here is a photo of my husband Dan and our sailboat Ariel with El Galeon in the background on the south side of the Bridge of Lions. Photo Courtesy of Jackie Hird.