Earlier I shared with you our photos of the Cuauhtémoc’s arrival in Mazatlán, as the cadets and staff stood on the spars of the three-masted barque, singing the anthem. It was a once in a lifetime experience, for sure! Many of you seemed to think they were just standing up there, but we could tell they were fastened on in some way. As we toured the ship yesterday, some of the staff members demonstrated the harnesses they use to climb up into the rigging. They also told us some of the favorite ports of call they’ve had, and whether we’ll be able to see the Cuauhtémoc with its sails up. See the video below.
The captain of the Cuauhtémoc is Juan Carlos Vera Minjares. The ship is traveling with 254 people on board, including 69 fifth-year cadets who will receive degrees in Naval Science Engineering. 19 of the cadets are women!!! Woot woot! I most unfortunately did not meet any female cadets, or you’d be hearing from her. 😉 We were also told that on Sunday 4300 people toured the vessel.
Upon boarding the Cuauhtémoc, the first thing that struck us is just how many thousands of kilograms of rope this Class A tall ship uses! Rope, rope, everywhere rope! Officially called cordage, we saw everything from thick halyards (used to raise heavy yards) to thin, smooth, flexible sheets (used to control the orientation of a sail). We even saw rope tied around steel cable. The rigging looked incredibly complicated and intricately woven. And, of course, we saw impressive knots as well. Click on any photo to view it larger or see a slideshow.
Second to the quantity of rope everywhere, we were impressed with the beauty of the wood on the Cuauhtémoc. The deck itself was gorgeous, most of the pulleys we saw to help hoist that rope were made of wood, but also the stairways of the ship, the lifeboats, seating areas and doors were all wooden. After leaving Mazatlán the ship is headed to an astillero in Acapulco for repairs and refinishing, but it looked in fine shape to us.
What would a historic replica barque like this be without brass? Lights, portholes, binnacles, telegraphs, cleats, bells, propellers… all shined to a brilliance. There were even brass plates on the deck where heavy equipment is serviced, so that it doesn’t scratch the wood decking.
One very interesting bit of trivia that we learned is that the Cuauhtémoc sports a unique innovation: tercudos, or handwoven yellow “fluffy things” that cushion the rigging to protect the sails from damage. A cadet told us that when they are punished for misbehavior, they are often ordered to make tercudos.
As with any community, part of what makes the Cuauhtémoc so special is its crew. Everyone we talked with during our tour of the vessel was outgoing and friendly, ready to tell us stories and answer our questions. We learned that the staff (tripulación) wear blue and white striped shirts, and the cadets, the day we visited at least, were in white uniforms. They all seem to enjoy purchasing gifts for family and friends as they travel, but the huge challenge is where to store the gifts, as they only have very skinny tall lockers into which to cram their loot. The cadets sail on the Cuauhtémoc in their final, fifth year at the Naval Academy. Most of the staff are older and have family at home, and have made multiple journeys: Istanbul, Barcelona, Tokyo, Shanghai, Alexandria, Ukraine, Venezuela…
Because this ship is so special, even the signage and trademarks are very cool. See below.
Because it is such an old-fashioned ship, I converted a few of our pictures to black and white. I like how they turned out; I hope you’ll enjoy them.
I guess the photographic opportunities of this gorgeous vessel have seduced me, because we drove over to the port again today at sunset, just to see if we could get some shots with the colored sky and, closer up of the lights at night. The sky, unfortunately, didn’t cooperate so well—not one of those over-the-top sunsets that we are so frequently blessed with.
Thank you for reading and watching along with me! I sure have enjoyed the Cuauhtémoc’s visit. Thank you to all the staff and cadets who helped us learn and kindly showed us how things worked!