Last October the magnificent training ship ‘ARM Cuauhtémoc’ of the Mexican Navy stayed in Curaçao’s harbour for almost a week, attracting many spectators and visitors. The visit of the three mast brig was organized and hosted by the Curaçao Sail Foundation.
Curaçao has the largest, most picturesque and natural harbour in the Caribbean. The Anna Bay, the channel that leads to the inner harbour, is a unique and safe venue for naval events. It divides the town center of Willemstad that has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1997. Furthermore the geological position makes Curaçao from way back a perfect hub for vessels, sailing through the Caribbean from all over the world.
Based on the experience of Curaçao Sail 500 in the year 1999, which marked 500 years of written history of the island, the Curaçao Sail Foundation was established in 2000 in order to promote the interest in traditional and tall ships by organizing international maritime events. At the same time the mandate is also to promote the harbour. Port visits of many beautiful and well known tall ships like ‘Bat’kivshchyna’ (Ukraine), ‘Polynesia’ (Grenada), ‘Cisne Branco’ (Brazil), ‘ARC Gloria’ (Columbia) and the ‘ARV Simón Bolívar’ from Venezuela have been organized.
The Buque Escuela de México ‘ARM Cuauhtémoc’, named after the last Aztec emperor who was beheaded by Hernan Cortes, is a training ship of the Mexican Navy for officers and cadets, and a sister ship of ‘Gloria’ (Colombia), ‘Guayas’ (Ecuador) and ‘Eagle’ (US Coast Guard). The 270-ft ship visited Curaçao from October 11 to 16. During Open days and receptions, 7,338 persons boarded the vessel and received excellent information from the crew. At night the illuminated ship presented a unique view against the attractive backdrop of the famous pontoon bridge and the 180 feet high Juliana Bridge. The reception on board for the authorities, friends and sponsors was one of the highlights of the visit.
After 28 days at sea, sailing from Gran Canaria’s Las Palmas, the arrival in Anna Bay was a real treat for the Mexican officers and crew, who had never been in Curaçao before. The ship, which completed a circumnavigation in 2006, sailed its 25th cruise in 2007 from home port Acapulco via the East coast of the United States to the Baltic. Curacao was one of the last ports of the 239-day journey—of which 165 days were spent at sea, traveling 21,504 Nautical Miles before returning to Acapulco where “Baltico 2007” came to an end.
Upcoming: in May, the Curaçao Sail Foundation and the Royal Dutch Navy are organizing another grand Caribbean Navy Festival. Not only navy frigates and cutters will participate, but also (sail/training) tall ships of the island’s friendly nations. To stimulate more tall ships to come to Curaçao’s harbour, the Sail Foundation now extends an open invitation to all tall ships to visit the island whenever their training programs allow. The invitation includes several expenses during the ship’s stay in Curaçao, such as pilot, tugs and tug boat services, liaison officers, security on the docks, berthing and line handling. For more information: [email protected].
Els Kroon is a Dutch former teacher who now lives and works as an award-winning free-lance photojournalist on Curaçao.