Photo Of The Day: Sailing Ship Rigging

Today’s photo comes to us from Flickr user Angie622, who captured this eye-catching image of the rigging of a traditional sailing ship shrouded in silhouette. The Instagram-like colors and dark shadows transform the ship’s vast web of ropes and timber into an intriguing abstract pattern in the shadows of the sun.

Taken any great shots of your own during your travels? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

[Photo credit: Flicker user Angie622]

Video of the Day – Sermilik Ice Fjord

The Sermilik Fjord is a long, steep-walled waterway in southeast Greenland where hundreds of icebergs calve from Greenland’s enormous ice sheets every year. Those looking to sail through the stunning fjord for a closer view of the icebergs depart from Ammassalik Island, where Greenland’s seventh-largest town, Tasiilaq, is located.

Today’s Video of the Day shares a vivid sample of a trip up the Sermilik Fjord, hosted by Borea Adventures, and captured by Vimeo user Haukur.

If you have imagery of a beautiful winter wonderland, we’d like to share it! Post a link in the comments below or submit photos to our Flickr Group – it could be our next Photo/Video of the Day!

Volvo Ocean Race kicks off from Alicante, Spain

It’s dark when I wake up in Alicane, with heavy, blue-grey storm clouds twisting upwards through the Mediterranean sky. Somewhere, 10,000 feet above this small Spanish city the gods are fighting over weather patterns; there’s a dash of clear blue sky here and a seam of storm clouds there, a maelstrom of wind, cloud, rain and energy hashed up atmosphere. In my view, it’s the perfect condition for sailing.

Out on Team Abu Dhabi’s VO 70 though, the weather conditions take a turn. Stale, soft wind starts to blow in from the southwest and our head sail softens. So the officials delay race start for another twenty minutes. In the mean time, our skipper Ian Walker spends time prepping his crew and exploring the winds around the race waters. And we wait.

It’s the day before the official launch to the Volvo Ocean Race and I’m out on a practice run with Team Abu Dhabi, who have invited me to come out and explore their operation before the kickoff. Alicante, a modest city two hours southwest of Valencia is both the opening port for the race as well as home base for the media operations and the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race museum. Over the next nine months, six teams will sail from here around the horn of Africa up into Abu Dhabi, around India, into China, across the perilous southern ocean and then into the Americas before reaching European shores once more.

Many among the management compare the event to the Everest of sailing but it’s more than that. It’s years of boat building, design, planning and execution. It’s the logistics of hop scotching tons of freight and support staff among ten ports across the planet, alternating ports to keep up with the boats. It’s holding onto your guts amidships when the swells of the southern ocean are trying like hell to pull them out of you.

There’s a grave determination among the eleven men on this ship as we cross the starting line and dig into the first leg of our race. Each spinnaker will be cast and folded hundreds of times in the next nine months, each sailor pushed to his limits. In Alicante, the weather is warm and the men are still strong and cheerful. Our world – this ocean will soon have its way with them.

[Editor’s note: Team Gadling joined the Volvo Ocean race at the request and expense of Team Abu Dhabi. Media support made the ships sail no faster nor the writers get any wetter while on assignment.]

Naval Museum in Madrid: an overlooked treasure

MadridAfter six years of living in Madrid, I’ve finally made it to the Naval Museum.

It’s overlooked by most tourists. In fact, it’s overlooked by a lot of madrileños. I’ve met some locals who didn’t even know it exists. Perhaps being so far away from the sea they don’t expect there to be a major naval museum downtown. It also doesn’t help that it’s tucked behind a modest facade that’s easy to miss.

Go inside, though, and you find yourself in a massive collection of paintings, cannons, uniforms, even parts of old ships.

Spain was one of of the leading naval powers in the Golden Age of Sail. It owned much of the New World and scattered colonies around the globe. It protected its interests with a large fleet of warships.

The museum skips lightly over the medieval period and gets really detailed starting at the Age of Exploration. Columbus is given his due, and many other lesser-known explorers are also covered. The maps are fun to study. The most important is that of Juan de la Cosa, made in 1500 and the first known map to show the New World.

The biggest section is for warships from the 16th-18th centuries, when Spain was a superpower. Here you’ll find uniforms, weapons, flags, and a nice collection of figureheads like the one shown here. One of the most interesting exhibits is the wreck of the Nao, which sank in 1600. Archaeologists donned scuba gear and excavated the wreck, bringing up a huge collection of porcelain from China as well as other artifacts.

The 19th and 20th centuries are also covered, although not in as much detail. By then Spain’s power was waning. There are some detailed models and paintings of ships that were making the transition from sail to steam. They had steam engines but kept their masts just in case those early engines broke, which they did regularly! The Spanish Civil War is only covered in passing. I’ve yet to see a Spanish museum that’s come to terms with this bloody conflict. It’s still in living memory, so the old wounds remain open.

The section for the modern navy is worth a look too. While small compared to those of the U.S., Russia, and UK, the Armada still packs a punch. It has two aircraft carriers, ten frigates, four submarines, and a host of smaller ships. This puts Spain way ahead of Morocco, its only potentially hostile neighbor.

The only downside to this museum is that the signage is all in Spanish. Don’t worry if you don’t speak the language; most of the exhibits are pretty self-explanatory. The museum is free. Because it’s in a military building, make sure to bring ID to get in.

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Photo of the day – The Old Man and the Sea

Photo of the day
Context is a funny thing. If this man were, say, working on his car in Passaic, New Jersey, we wouldn’t find him very romantic or interesting. But put him on a boat on the Adriatic Sea in Slovenia and he’s now a perfect travel photo subject, thanks to Flickr user SummitVoice1. He makes us sigh and think, “That’s the life. Just a man, a simple boat and the open water.”

He should still probably put on a clean shirt, though. Fare thee well, old salt, hope your day is smooth sailing!

Find a classic travel subject for your photos? Post your favorites to the Gadling Flickr pool and we may use one for a future Photo of the Day.