10th October 2023
Students from the Marine Academy at South Devon College took a step back in time on board a replica 17th-century Spanish Galleon.
The 50m vessel, El Galeon Andalucia, was visiting Dartmouth as part of a European tour, and the students, from the Marine Academy based at Premier Marina’s £75 million Noss-on-Dart Marina, were treated to a bespoke tour by the crew, which included details of the build, the living conditions and how the vessel’s operations have changed from the 1600s to today.
The full-sized ship travels to various ports as a ‘museum ship’, showcasing historical artefacts and sharing information about what life was like for sailors centuries ago.
The students, including Level 2 Marine Engineers, Level 3 Maritime Studies and Princess Yachts’ Composites Apprentices, were surprised at how few changes have been made on board.
Students from the Marine Academy on board El Galeon Andalucia
Ian Fenton, Marine Lecturer and the RYA Principal for the college, said: “Interestingly, apart from the engines, the carefully hidden modern GPS navigation systems and the living accommodation, which is no longer hammocks but single beds with just a curtain across for privacy, the ship is still run quite traditionally.”
Level 3 Maritime Studies student Cody Hubberd noticed how the spaces between the decks had limited headroom. He said: “Our guide, crewman Jordi Fernandez, explained how generally people were shorter 300 years ago and a lower deck meant more space for cargo for this replica trading ship.”
One change on board, in a nod to more modern technology, is the installation of a capstan/windlass on the lower deck, to assist with berthing, otherwise all the sails are manually set and handled, with the crew climbing aloft and pulling on the 10Km of lines and ropes by hand.
Student Billy Champion, who is completing a Level 3 qualification in Maritime Studies, said: “The trip benefitted everyone as we saw the living and working conditions, and could compare them to today’s set up, as well as noting the progression of vessel design and construction.”
Mr Fenton said it was a valuable experience for the students. He said: “I would like to thank Harbour Master Paul Britton and Mike Smith, the Premier Marinas Noss on Dart Manager, for allowing the use of one of his vessels to support the college boats in the transporting of all 22 staff and students safely to the ship.
“It was a memorable and meaningful trip outside the classroom and workshop environment. A great example of education and industry working together.”