Walk Onboard - Active Sailing Ships

Italy - The Navy Training Ship "Amerigo Vespucci"

August 28, 2010: I visited Germany shortly for a single purpose: to go to the Sail Bremerhaven 2010, to see the Italian Navy training ship Amerigo Vespucci, the Götheborg and all the other sailing ships.

On any tall ship meetings, the Amerigo is always the star, attracting thousands of visitors.

Full View

My Personal History with the Amerigo Vespucci

1977: I was a 10 year old boy growing up in Germany (cannot remember any time when I was NOT fascinated by sailing ships). The Amerigo sailed to Hamburg and had Open Ship for the Public between the 5-9 of August 1977. I wrote a naive letter to the captain (how the heck did I get the address?) - but he invited me as a special guest! So I saw the ship with my own eyes for the first time in my life, receiving an extra guided tour - in German! -,by the cadet Giovanni Milo (would like to know what became of him). He showed me the rigging and the captains cabin, and I felt very lucky to be onboard. Since then, the Amerigo Vespucci has always been in my mind ... but I lost contact and for a long time, there was no way for me to see the ship again ...

2005: after a long period, and many turns in my life, I had another rare chance again to visit the Amerigo Vespucci in Bremerhaven, at the Sail 2005. But I had only a small old camera and all the shots were already spent, so I made hand notes and drawings; but the ship was closed before I finished, so I had to wait for the next time ... Meanwhile I ordered the Amerigo model kit from Heller and started building the hull.

2010: Sail 2010 in Bremerhaven again. This time I was prepared: I learned some Italian phrases ("Scusi, parli Inglese?") and trained maritime terms in Italian, using my own Maritime Dictionary (in the menu above). I studied all pictures I had of the ship, mostly in some books in my library, or from the internet, and prepared some drawings of the rigging. And I had a better camera with 2 zoom lenses, 2 fresh batteries and 2 big memory cards to make thousands of pictures in Bermerhaven:) Onboard, I met with Fabrizio Lecce, an officer who was so kind to answer all my questions that I had for so many years.

These pictures shall not be a replacement for a real visit to the ship, that I recommend very much indeed! I visted this ship twice that day ... and I made about 600 photos for my ship modelling studies.

Now I present the best of them here:

The Hull and The Sides

The unique color scheme of the Amerigo Vespucci: black upper works with two white bands. And a light brown upper band to the deck, the same color as of the masts.

The Golden Bow

The most distinct detail of the Amerigo: it makes her the most beautiful ship in the world :)

The Golden Stern

On Deck: The Tour for the Visitors

Everytime when the Amerigo has Open Ship for visitors, the crew prepares an arrangement of barriers to guide the masses smoothly through all 3 decks. Going under deck is impossible, unless You get invited. For the weather, the crew almost always covers the main deck and the quarter deck with huge canvases to protect the visitors from the rain ...

The usual tour is not guided by a person - You can walk freely, but still You are directed by the barriers. With respect to the _masses_ of visitors, there are hundreds of them onboard, You can see this is the only way to handle this situation. The average visiting time is calculated to around 20 minutes; You are free to stay longer to concentrate on some details, but You cannot walk against the "stream" ...

It starts at the entrance on the main deck, just behind the main mast, and soon up the stairways to the quarterdeck with the mizzen mast. On its other side down the other stairway back on the maindeck, but You can see one side only. Going forward, there is another stairway up to the forecastle, where is more space. Yet, the most fore part and the bowsprit cannot be reached (so, photographers need a zoom lens here) for safety reasons. Then around the forecastle, down again to the main deck, and to the exit.

Usually, an Open Ship day is from 10:00 - 12:00 and 14:00 - 16:00. Sometimes You can find a kind officer answering questions, some can even speak English ...

These impressions follow the tour:

Main Deck at the Entrance

Quarter Deck and Mizzen Mast

Mizzen Mast, or Jigger Mast

The most aft mast, standing on the quarter deck. The bitts were shown above ...

Due to the canvases covering the decks, it is difficult to make pictures from the masts from deck. Some rare spots are possible, here I combine them with my picture I made from the quai, when I was in the long queue of visitors :)

Main Deck, the other side, walking to the forecastle, passing the Main Mast

Main Mast

And now I take my 70-300mm zoom lens :)

The Forecastle

Fore Mast on the Forecastle

The Bowsprit

And seen from the quai:

Down to Main Deck again, and Exit

Her Eleven Boats

I do not know of any other training ship carrying so many boats onboard. 6 are hanging in their davits at the sides, 4 are stored in racks over the main deck, and one - the most beautifiul - at the stern davits.

The Side Boats

The Upper Boats over the Main Deck

The Stern Boat

Plus 18 Inflatable Life Rafts

This ship is really safe ... for 350 crew members.

Go and visit this ship, and see it with Your own eyes :)