Sunday, April 10, 2016


When I was young, I loved to read biographies, especially about the great explorers. Perhaps that is how this guy from a land-locked state ended up having an attraction for “tall ships.” Some of you know that I almost ended up attending the U.S. Coast Guard Academy after graduating from high school, which would have put my life on an entirely different trajectory. The Coast Guard Academy has a famous wooden sailing ship called the Eagle, that cadets sail during the summer for training purposes and to spread good will. Although I never sailed on it, I did get to tour the Eagle twice over the years (in Baltimore a few years ago and in the mid-'80s when I lived in Washington, DC). Although I didn't become a Coast Guard Academy cadet, the Eagle still is meaningful to me.
Yesterday, I had to go to the capital for a Peace Corps meeting, and to my surprise I saw the masts of a large sailing vessel looming above the city as my bus neared Roseau. Since I arrived early with time to spare, I ambled down to the dock to see this beautiful ship (that's me above, standing on the dock), and was invited to take a tour. It was the A.R.C. Gloria, a training vessel for the Colombian Navy with a crew of 150 (A.R.C. stands for the Armada of the Republic of Colombia). Just like the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's Eagle (which my Colombian tour guide knew about), it sails around the world to participate in tall ship celebrations and general good will missions, while providing valuable training to naval cadets. I tried to capture the entire ship from the dock in the photo below.
Here is a view of the bow area from the dock. Notice the angel figurehead leading the way.
Below is a picture taken in the bow once I was aboard the ship. The wood on the deck is immaculate!
The next picture shows the view looking straight up one of the masts, the tallest of which is over 40 meters high (133 feet).
I thought it was interesting to see the white metal framework surrounding the spinning marine radar antenna on the forward mast, probably to prevent ropes or sails from hitting it.
My guide let me see inside the officer's mess, which was far from being a “mess”—it was incredibly beautiful (and I hear the Colombian coffee they serve is excellent).
I was surprised to see the display cases built into the walls that have amazing examples of golden treasures from the ancient Incan civilization in Colombia (you can see one of the half dozen or so cases in the right center of the picture above). I can't fathom how much these gold masterpieces (of which you are only seeing a few in my pictures) might be worth! Although the reflections on the display case glass might be a bit confusing in the next two pictures, the lighting surely made the gleaming gold shimmer!
I thought the next one was particularly interesting. It is labeled as a votive raft, so I assume it held candles and represented a raft that they would have built and used. Little did I know that I would get an archeology lesson while touring this impressive ship.
While taking the picture below of the pretty Colombian flag flying off the stern, I glimpsed that the modern catamaran ferry boat which brings passengers to Dominica (including myself last August) was at its dock further up the waterfront (visible in the picture below).
After my tour and as I headed back the walkway to attend my Peace Corps meeting, I noticed that the futuristic ferry boat was leaving. I thought it would make an interesting picture to capture both these awesome ships together—one is a “Gloria-ous” example of the wooden sailing ships that once frequented this beautiful island, while the other is an example of modern ship-building technology. Each is interesting in its own way, and I'm glad I was able to experience both of them.
Finally, I wanted to share this last picture that I "borrowed" from the Internet showing this majestic ship sailing at sea, with an extra large flag flying off the stern. Isn't it a beauty!

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