Monthly Archives: January 2014

Figurehead of the Tall Ship ‘Shabab Oman’.


The origins of the ship’s figurehead lie in the early days of seafaring. They were used as religious symbols to protect the ship, and to express the sailors’ belief that the ship was a living thing. There was also the belief that a ship needed to find its own way, and could only do this if it had eyes. Figureheads are carved wooden sculptures which decorate the prow of a sailing ship, and were thought to represent the vessel’s spirit. It was believed that they offered the crew protection from the harsh seas and safeguarded their homeward journey. The figureheads were also used to identify a ship—one of a range of subjects would be chosen, reflecting the name of the ship.  The figurehead of ‘Shabab Oman’ (meaning  ‘Youth of Oman’) pays tribute to the Arab sailors who ruled over the Indian Ocean a long time ago.


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Figurehead of the Mexican Tall Ship ‘Cuauhtemoc’


The tall ship ARM ‘Cuauhtemoc’ was built for the Mexican Navy in the Celaya shipyards (Bilbao, Spain) and launched in July 1982. During Sail Den Helder I sailed with the three-masted barque, 67,2 meters long and a width of 12.1 meters. It is a training ship for the Mexican Navy. The beautiful figurehead became an homage to the last Aztec emperor. His headpiece, a jade colored eagle and his body covered in golden leaf while holding a weapon in his right hand. Fire is coming from his feet. Figureheads were used to symbolise an owner’s power and wealth, but are also believed by sailors to bring good luck.

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Spanish Tall Ship ‘Juan Sebastian de Elcano’.


I have always been fascinated by tall ships. Especially the Russian tall ships like the ‘Sedov’ and the ‘Kruszenstern’ are my favorites.  During Sail Den Helder I sailed with the ‘Juan Sebastian de Elcano’, a training ship for the Royal Spanish Navy. The ‘Juan Sebastian de Elcano’ is a four-masted topsail, steel-hulled schooner. At 113 metres (370 feet) long, she is the third-largest tall ship in the world. The first name given was “Minerva”, which is also the name of their figurehead, but by royal decree of April 17, 1925 was changed to current name is ‘Juan Sebastian Elcano’ as a tribute to the famous Spanish explorer.  I was very impressed by this beautiful tall ship.

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New Sail Training Vessel for Royal Navy of Oman.


The Ministry of Defense of Oman has been officially launched a new Sail Training Vessel named RNOV ‘Shabab Oman’. This 87 m vessel is destined to become the flagship of the Royal Navy of Oman to continue the role of the current STV of the same name in promoting cultural interaction and to help ‘spread peace and harmony amongst nations’ . Shabab Oman is a full square rigger and will have an amazing 2,700 m2 sail area. The vessel was designed by Dykstra Naval Architects, based in Amsterdam. She will be delivered in August 2014. In June 2013 I sailed with the former ‘Shabab Oman’ during the anchorage by Sail Den Helder. It was a great experience. See for more information: the new STV RNOV ‘Shabab Oman’.


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