Coolest northforker stories of 2016: El Galeón arrives in Greenport

El Galeón sailed into Greenport Village on October 17.

El Galeón sailed into Greenport Village on October 17. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

Greenport was once again a tall ships destination when El Galeón, a veritable floating museum from Spain, paid a visit in October.

The 170-foot, 495-ton replica is fashioned after a typical 17th-century Spanish galleon, which sailed between the 16th and 18th centuries and primarily transported spices, livestock and slaves.

Built in 2009, El Galeón is a composite of several ships from the 1500 to 1700s and doesn’t represent a single historic vessel.

“It took three years to research the ship before they even started building it,” said project manager Fernando Viota. “We didn’t have a full plan for a galleon, so we had to mix three different galleons to build it.”

While a traditional galleon needed as many as 150 people to sail it, modern technology means El Galeón can operate with just 19 crew members, plus a captain. The diverse crew is entirely composed of volunteers. Some are students earning college credit, while others simply want to learn how to sail.

North Fork residents welcomed El Galeón with open arms, lining up as early as 11 a.m. the first day of its visit to experience the living tribute to Spain’s past.

The ship was so well-received it extended its stay for a week, even turning itself into a haunted pirate ship attraction for Halloween.