18 Jan 2016

Ecuadorian sailing ship docks in Wellington

5:59 pm on 18 January 2016

The unusual sight of a three-masted sailing ship drew crowds to the port of Wellington today.

Ecuadorian Navy ship Guayas docking up in Wellington  harbour.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Ecuadorian naval training ship Guayas is berthed in Wellington for five days as part of a round-the-world voyage. The 78.4m ship was first launched in 1976.

Wellington is the third to last of the 25 ports it is visiting on its journey.

Guayas was last in Wellington in February 1988 with a fleet of tall ships after Australia's bicentenary.

The capital is the third to last port of call of the 25 harbours the ship has visited as part of her 208-day voyage.

On board are Naval Operations Commander Carlos Sumárraga, 13 officials, 79 crew, nine musicians and 41 midshipmen.

Crew member David Marcos told RNZ reporter Catherine Hutton the musicians on board are part of the crew.

"Actually they are musicians but their fulltime job is crew. We bring them here in order to give a more jazzy entrance when we go to each port."

Because they use electronic amplifiers, the musicians only play if weather conditions permit.

Ecuadorian Navy member of the Guayas, David Marcos.

Guayas crew member David Marcos. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

"Here in New Zealand we couldn't do (it) because we had some fog."

Mr Marcos said the musicians could play anything.

"They play our native music, Latin music - merengue, salsa - even sometimes when they want they play rock."

Despite having an engine, most of the time Guayas is under sail.

"That's the main function of this one. We have two ways of propulsion: we have the sails and we also have the main engine but most of the time we use sails."

Mr Marcos said the crew would set sail for South America after leaving Wellington. The trip would take 25 days.

"We all believe it's going to be rough ... we have never navigated that much."

He said many of his friends get seasick and most of them will choose other jobs after the sailing trip.

"They just want to finish or maybe become aviators or infantry."

Mr Marcos said this trip was very different from that undertaken by another training ship which travelled along the European coast.

"In Europe you get to see many liberal things, many things that you actually will not find in our country."

In contrast, on its voyage, Guayas saw a range of very different cultures.

"We started in Egypt and actually saw the change of each ideology, of each culture."

Mr Marcos reeled off the names of the range of countrries he had visited, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, India, Indonesia and Malaysia, before arriving in Australia and New Zealand.

One aim of the trip was to educate people about Ecuador, its culture and traditions, and encourage them to visit and test the country's motto "All you need is Ecuador".