Sailing from history

Three couples from Maryland, Utah and Tennessee enjoyed a light afternoon wind on the York River as they took in a narrative of the Battle of the Capes and Siege of Yorktown.

History suddenly came to life when a giant replica galleon came into view at the entrance of the York River, way out on the horizon. The replica 17th century El Galeon Andalucia is the first tall ship of its kind to call on modern Yorktown. The ship motored up the river under bare poles. Since the winds were so light, the sails were furled up into the yardarms.

Sailing from historyAs the ship past us, Jim Christopher observed that its sole cannon on the port side was aimed straight at us. I had talked at length about how cannons were deployed in sea battles. A tugboat working on a project nearby was making his daily commute home across the river when he paused to let Andalucia pass. Surprisingly, the ship pulled into the docks of Riverwalk Landing without any tugboat assistance.

Free tours are set Nov. 3, 4 and 7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Paid tours are offered Nov. 5 and 6 at $10 for adults and $5 for children. Tickets are available at the dock or from the ship’s website,


  • Andalucia epitomizes large 17th century ships used for trade.
  • She weighs 500 tons and extends 164 feet long and 33 feet wide.
  • It’s the biggest replica ship to visit restored Yorktown.
  • Three masts furl seven sails comprising nearly 10,000 square feet.
  • Under the Nao Victoria Foundation, the ship has covered 35,000 miles.
  • She has visited ports in four of the five world continents.

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Sailing from history

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