Magellan-era galleon survives 'kamikaze' storm

1st June 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 June 2005, NAGOYA — A Spanish-manned replica of the early 16th-century vessel that first circumnavigated the globe came through a harrowing test of gale-force winds east of Japan.

1 June 2005

NAGOYA — A Spanish-manned replica of the early 16th-century vessel that first circumnavigated the globe came through a harrowing test of gale-force winds east of Japan.

On its way from Tokyo to the port of Nagoya in a bad storm, the Nao Victoria was at the mercy of the "kamikaze", the Japanese word not only for the country's suicide pilots in World War II, but also for the "divine winds" that in the 13th century sank the flotilla sent by Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan to invade Japan.

"The battle of Tokyo Bay," as some of the 12 men on board described the storm that enveloped the vessel all night long, was perhaps the most challenging test experienced by the Victoria's crew so far on their round-the-world voyage.

"Unbelievable," said Takuya Sakurai, a Japanese sailor travelling on board the Victoria on this phase of the vessel's cruise.

Almost hurricane-force winds and enormous waves swept across the Victoria's deck, turning the boat into a plaything of the elements in the zone east of Japan where Tokyo Bay opens into the Sagami Gulf.

With only a small square foresail unfurled to maintain some control of the 170-ton vessel in the storm, it was virtually at the mercy of the wind.

Nevertheless, the sturdy craft at first seemed to face the brunt of the tempest with grace, steered from the rear by a bar attached to the rudder below.

The primitive but effective steering mechanism is identical to that used on these type of ships during the 16th century.

The Victoria, a replica of the same-named vessel in which Juan Sebastian Elcano completed the first voyage around the world in 1522, is Spain's "floating" pavilion at the Aichi-2005 Universal Exposition.

Aichi is the east-central Japanese province whose capital is Nagoya.

Elcano was the Spanish lieutenant of Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese navigator killed in what are now The Philippines. After his death in 1521, the remaining men of his crew completed the world-circling voyage in the Victoria, the five-ship expedition's only surviving vessel.

Since the Victoria set sail from Seville in October last year, it has been manned by about 20 sailors at a time.

The vessel is scheduled to arrive in Nagoya on 4 June and will be set up as the second pavilion at the Exposition, which opened in March and will run until 25 September.

From Nagoya, the Victoria will sail to several Japanese cities and in October then  depart from Osaka, heading for the South China Sea, Malaysia and the Indian Ocean.

From there, it will continue on through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea and finally arrive once again in Seville in early 2006.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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