On Deck – The Juan Sebastian de Elcano

The Juan Sebastian de Elcano sitting docked in Miami

At some late point in my life I realised how much I love the sea. I remember the very first time I saw it as a child; it scared me. It was large, it was loud, and it was large. The sea almost claimed my life once; and thus, from small, I feared it. Somewhere in the past few years though, the sea and me made our peace. Now it has become to me something therapeutic; there’s something profoundly calming about the sound of waves and the feel of ocean breeze that eludes my ability to express in words. Therefore, I won’t try.

Coincidentally, I also love history. But before I spend another paragraph romanticizing the past I’ll get straight to the point. On May 18th, a beautifully preserved piece of history sailed into Miami and docked not far from where I live. The Juan Sebastian de Elcano is the Royal Spanish Navy’s prized training vessel. She was built in 1927 and named after the Spanish captain of Ferdinand Magellan’s fleet of legend, known for the first ever circumnavigation of our globe. The J.S. Elcano has a long and prestigious history. It’s  the third largest traditionally rigged sailing vessel in the world and also one of the oldest. Her age doesn’t show though. She’s well maintained and more than seaworthy enough to match the reputation of her namesake.

The vessel is much more than the blue ribbon bovine at the state fair; its not just a showpiece. Since being put into service it has sailed more than two million nautical miles (according to Wikipedia) and circled the globe about ten times (according to the officer on deck at the time of my visit). Her current voyage, lasting four months, will take her from Miami down to South America with a few other port stops in between. I had a brief opportunity to tour the deck and capture some shots. Maybe next time I’ll be allowed to shoot and narrate an entire ocean voyage on board this beauty (daydreaming in progress). For now, do enjoy these few shots I got while walking the deck.

The ship's wheel at the helm.
The ship’s wheel at the helm.
The ship's bell at the timekeeping station is used to sound the time and regulate duty watches.
The ship’s bell at the timekeeping station is used to sound the time and regulate duty watches.
A plaque on board the J.S. Elcano.
A plaque on board the J.S. Elcano.
Ropes used for rigging and controlling the sails.
Ropes used for rigging and controlling the sails.
the ship's throttle control. Although the Elcano sails on wind it's also fitted with an engine for propulsion when winds are insufficient
The ship’s throttle control. Although the Elcano sails with wind it’s also fitted with an engine for propulsion when winds are insufficient
The view from the helm with visitors on board touring the ship.
The view from the helm with visitors on board touring the ship.
Detailing on the stairs on board serve as a non-slip safety feature during wet conditions
Detailing on the stairs on board serve as a non-slip safety feature during wet conditions
A view of the span between two of the ship's four masts
A view of the span between two of the ship’s four masts
The ship's figurehead, a symbol of her native country, at the front of the vessel.
The ship’s figurehead, a symbol of her native country, at the front of the vessel.
Looking up from deck level, the view shows the height of the masts and the complexity of the rigging.
Looking up from deck level, the view shows the height of the masts and the complexity of the rigging.
The Spanish national flag flies at the ship's stern (rear).
The Spanish national flag flies at the ship’s stern (rear).

 

The Juan Sebastian de Elcano settled at sunset.
The Juan Sebastian de Elcano settled at sunset.
Written By

Author of Roaming Shooter.