Greeted by hundreds of enthusiastic visitors, the much-awaited Galeon Andalucia arrived at Wushih Harbor (烏石港) in Yilan County yesterday morning after taking refuge in Keelung last week to avoid Typhoon Fanapi.
The 17th-century Spanish replica came at the invitation of the Yilan County Government, which had initially planned to hold visits at Wushih Harbor for four days. However, the typhoon forced organizers to shorten the activity to two days. The ship is scheduled to leave for Hong Kong tomorrow.
Many people arrived at the harbor early to line up, for fear of missing the opportunity to explore the ship, which started allowing visitors on board at 10am.
Although the organizer limited the tour to 10 minutes per person and no more than 100 people at a time, most visitors did not follow the rules, forcing people in line to wait for as long as two hours in the scorching sun before being admitted onto the ship.
The Andalucia left Seville, Spain, in March and followed the route set by its Spanish predecessors 400 years ago, passing through the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Malacca Straits, stopping in several countries along the way before arriving in Shanghai in June.
The ship, which is equipped with three large masts, seven big sails and 10 replica cannons, also served as the mobile exhibition room for the Spanish Hall at this year’s World Expo in Shanghai.
Pepelu de Miguel, who serves on board the Andalucia, said the rise of the galleon in the 17th-century was directly linked with trade between Spain and the Philippines, as galleons were the ships used to carry spices back to Spain.
“The designer of the replica, Ignacio Fernandez Vial, is also a marine engineer,” he said. “He was searching [materials] at the Navy Museum in Madrid, as well as in the archives in Seville, where all the data since Columbus sailed to America is stored. He was able to find a lot of drawings and paintings of ships coming to Spain from the history documented by Marques de la Victoria, a member of royalty.”
Asked why people are so taken with replicas, de Miguel said it was because they were part of history.
“I think people want to know how people lived in the past,” he said. “They like to see, touch and feel what they were doing before.”
The ship will be open to visitors until 7pm today.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA