Floating Museum Draws Visitors To Downtown

By Miriah Hamrick, posted Nov 18, 2022
Nao Trinidad, which arrived in downtown Wilmington on Nov. 16, is docked at the London Wharf for tours through Nov. 20. (Photo by Miriah Hamrick)
An historic tall ship that doubles as a floating museum is docked along the Riverwalk in downtown Wilmington this weekend.
The 95-foot-long ship currently stationed at London Wharf is a replica of the Nao Trinidad, one of five ships that departed Spain in 1519 under the direction of famous explorer Ferdinand Magellan. At a time when some still thought the earth was flat, Magellan sought a westward route to the spice-rich islands located east of Europe in the South Pacific. Only one ship in Magellan’s fleet made it back to Spain three years later, and with its return, it became the first ship to sail around the world.
Nao Trinidad is one of three replicas from Magellan’s fleet designed by a Spanish nonprofit to sail around Europe and the Americas bringing history to life, according to Nao Trinidad project manager Marina Quesada.
“The idea is to spread Spanish maritime history all over the world, which is something really important that kids in school don’t know about,” Quesada said.
Nao Trinidad’s stop in the Port City was organized by Wilmington Harbor Enhancement Trust (WHET), a nonprofit established to promote recreational activities along the Cape Fear River downtown. WHET president Stephanie Fornes said tall ships like Nao Trinidad draw thousands of people to downtown’s waterfront.
“It’s a huge attraction,” Fornes said. “It’s not just locals. We more out-of-towners look at the ships than local people.”
WHET brought numerous tall ships to Wilmington in recent years – including Christopher Columbus replicas Nao Santa Maria in 2021, and Niña and Pinta in 2017 – through a partnership with Nao Victoria Foundation, a Spanish nonprofit organization that constructs replicas. Tall ship El Galeon drew about 10,000 visitors during its 2015 visit, according to Fornes.
Finished in 2018, Nao Trinidad was constructed based on historical plans and drawings. The ship generally mirrors the one Magellan himself captained 500 years ago, and Quesada said the crew of 10 who steer the ship today use the same mechanism available to Magellan’s crew: the whipstaff.
A predecessor to ship’s wheels, the whipstaff is essentially a pole that travels through the deck to the tiller and the rudder. Quesada said navigating the ship with the whipstaff requires the work of at least two or three people at a time.
“It’s quite hard,” she said. “When the sea’s rough, even more.”
Until Nao Trinidad departs next week, visitors to the ship can see the whipstaff as well as the captain’s chambers and an exhibit about Magellan’s expedition in the hull. Crew members are also available to share their experiences sailing on the historic replica.
Tours are available 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 18, and Saturday, Nov. 19. On Sunday, tours are offered from noon until 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online or at the dock, located off Water Street between Chestnut and Grace streets.
Ico insights


Mcwhorter 0005

Celebrating Entrepreneurs Around the World and in Wilmington

Heather McWhorter - UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

A Simple Approach To Difficult Conversations

Dane Scalise - GriffinEstep Benefit Group

FOREWARN: A Valuable New Benefit to Members

Ea Ruth - Cape Fear REALTORS®

Trending News

National Retailer, More Coming To Hanover Center

Cece Nunn - Nov 29, 2022

Cape Fear Commercial Partners With Developers On Leland Project

Cece Nunn - Nov 30, 2022

Developers To Mark Growth Of Soda Pop District Project

Staff Reports - Nov 29, 2022

New Nosh, Including True Blue Street Food Concept, Coming To Cargo District

Miriah Hamrick - Nov 30, 2022

The Vault Opens With Unique Wine Cellar, Coffee To Go

Miriah Hamrick - Nov 30, 2022

In The Current Issue

Film Festivals Make A Comeback

Area film festivals took a hit when the COVID pandemic was at its peak, but their organizers expect lessons they learned about the importanc...

Back To School At Any Age

Amy Keith returned to UNCW in 2009, this time as a program coordinator at OLLI, which focuses on lifelong learning for people 50 and older....

Retirement U-Turn

Many Cape Fear area retirees might initially opt for a life of leisure but discover that they still have a lot to give, and perhaps a lot to...

Book On Business

The 2022 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!



Trying to Grow a Business?
2020 Health Care Heroes
2020 WilmingtonBiz 100