Replica of the Santa María arrives in Puerto Rico at the first crossing of the Atlantic

The replica of the nao Santa María, as the boat with which Christopher Columbus arrived on the American coast 525 years ago, docked today in San Juan (Puerto Rico), which has been his first trip across the Atlantic since it was launched in March of this year.

His captain, Spaniard Carlos "Charlie" Herrera, told Efe upon arrival at dock 3 of the Puerto Rican capital, to feel "very lucky" to step on land, after 22 days of travel since they left the port of San Sebastian de Canarias. La Gomera on November 26 last.

"I feel very fortunate to have sailed on a replica ship that crossed the Atlantic, with a very good crew, and that there are not few better places to get to Old San Juan," said Herrera, who is visiting the island for the fourth time. chance.

The replica of the ship is a commemorative vessel of the 525th anniversary of the encounter between the Old World of Columbus and the New World of the Americas.

In that same line, Herrera reflected that it is "a very beautiful experience" to have made the same journey that Colón made with another ten mariners.

"Not only the fact that you are crossing, but it gives you to think about how those sailors felt and how they lived, you put yourself in their role and you realize how hard it was," he said.

"Now we know where we are going, because we have all the modern techniques to guide us at sea, we have different cabins and meals, the experience is hard, but very beautiful at the same time," he added.

The boat, built in iroko and pine wood, has a crew of 17 people - 13 men and 4 women - is 29 meters long and eight meters wide, four sticks, five sails and five decks.

On the guts and the desire to travel on a ship by the high seas for at least three weeks, Herrera said that anyone who wants to join the crew, "has to come with tolerance to the fullest."

"We are 17 people -of a maximum of 24- who are all different and then forces you to coexist to open your mind, either you open your mind or you can not stand it ... Being 20 days at sea means that there is always work. at night, the doors of the sun and the sunrises make the day more bearable, "said Herrera.

The ship has been built on a real scale at the Punta Umbría shipyard (Huelva, Spain) by the Nao Victoria Foundation, with the support of the Diputación de Huelva and the Cajasol Foundation.

The Nao Victoria Foundation is an institution specialized in promoting and disseminating great cultural events through its historic ships.

La Nao Victoria and El Galeón, two of its most well-known ships, have already sailed along ports throughout the world, in the development of projects, forming part of International and Universal Exhibitions.

The nao Santa María, which will remain until the end of January in the Puerto Rican capital where the public can visit it, has become ambassador of the province of Huelva and its Columbian vocation in a new transoceanic trip.

"I hope that the people who visit will leave happy, because it is a part of the history that all Latinos have in common and I believe that it will be a beautiful and interesting experience and that it is a way of knowing the history in a tangible way, that you are reading it, they are not telling you, but seeing it, "said Herrera.

For his part, Fernando Viota, of the Nao Victoria Foundation -administrator of the galleon-, told Efe that another purpose of the trip is "to promote the meeting between these two worlds and bring all that Spanish maritime culture, as the first vehicle of exchange between both countries".

"It is our first great adventure in crossing the Atlantic, for us it is a pride to bring that part of Huelva, of Spanish culture and be able to offer it to Puerto Ricans, we feel Puerto Rico as our second home, it is a unique journey, like going back to 500 years ago, "he added.

Angel Rosa, 35, is another navigator of the nao Santa María, and highlighted to Efe the experience of crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a Columbus replica ship.

"I feel very happy and full of emotion for everything, because after 23 days, you are already on land, you can breathe the atmosphere, happiness, excitement and joy," said the sailor, who works on the ship as a bridge guard .

Rosa said that during a day of navigation, she managed to spot three whales, which kept accompanying the ship for a long time, and that another day they crossed a boat and chatted, which seemed exciting, they had not seen anything else that was not sea.

After his stay in Puerto Rico he will continue his tour through different ports of the east coast of the United States.

Jorge J. Muñiz Ortiz


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