The White Lady, La Dama Blanca

Paula Rychtar
Editorial Supervisor
Mariners Weather Log

EMSERALDA under sail

ESMERALDA under sail.
Courtesy of the Armada de Chile

The Chilean ship ESMERALDA is a sight to behold. With the four-masted barquentine ship which has 21 sails with a total sail area of 30,829 square feet, there is little wonder why this beautiful ship got the nickname of The White Lady.

HConstruction on this ship began in Cadiz Spain in 1946 and she was intended to become Spainís national training ship, but as fate would have it, that did not come to pass. The shipyard in Spain suffered catastrophic explosions during the shipís construction in 1947. This event not only damaged the ship but put the entire shipyard under the threat of bankruptcy. In 1950 Chile and Spain began negotiations; Spain offered to repay debts incurred to Chile as a result of the Spanish Civil War in the form of manufactured products. This included the not yet completed ESMERALDA. Chile accepted the offer and the ownership of the ESMERALDA was transferred to Chile in 1951.

In June of1954, the ESMERALDA was complete and the society of Cadiz Spain delivered the ship to the Chilean Representative, Ambassador to Spain, Oscar Salas Letelier. The ship sailed from Cadiz under the command of Captain Horacio CornejoTagle, bound for Las Plamas in Gran Canaria. From there the ship traveled to New Orleans Louisiana, where a distilling plant was installed on the vessel. After New Orleans, the ESMERALDA set sail for her final destination. ESMERALDA arrived at Valparaiso Chile on the first of September where the ship was met with much celebration.

Today, the mission of the ESMERALDA is to be the training ship for the Chilean Navy. Though ships today in this modern age are propelled with the latest technology and equipment, Chile has chosen a sailboat to enrich the training of its officers. This ship in all its magnificent glory offers an illustrious legacy, traditions, and experiences that only a sailboat such as the ESMERALDA can offer. Sailing on such a vessel gives the officers and midshipmen the opportunity to really know the sea, use the tools of their trade in hands on environment offering them the opportunity to experience the craft of naval navigation.

Each year the ESMERALDA sets sail for a training cruise with the midshipmen and top seaman from the training school year. With this, they are given the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and dedication towards assuming the responsibilities of being the Representatives of Chileís Naval Service. The ESMERALDA sails around the world spreading the warmth and color, a small piece of Chile, giving everyone a taste and insight to their country. I cannot imagine the majesty of this ship as it enters the port with all the officers lining the deck and manning the sails; it must be absolutely spectacular.

In line with Chileís dedication and stewardship for the environment, the Chile Navy has formally agreed to participate in the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Ship Observations Team/ Voluntary Observing Ship Scheme and has recruited their ship the ESMERALDA into this program. On her recent worldwide cruise, the ESMERALDA sailed from Cozumel to the port of Miami Florida.

From left to right: Corporal Miguel Pulgar, the Met NCO, Dave Dellinger, and Lieutenant Commander Patricio Acevedo, the ship's Operations Officer.

From left to right: Corporal Miguel Pulgar, the Met NCO, Dave Dellinger, and Lieutenant Commander Patricio Acevedo, the ship's Operations Officer.

LCDR. Alejandro de la Maza of the Valparaiso Meteorological Center (National VOS Focal Point) contacted the U.S. VOS Program and requested a visit to the ship by a local VOS Port Meteorological Officer. Our Miami PMO, Dave Dellinger was more than happy to assist. Dave was able to provide VOS supplies and assist the crew with National Weather Service marine products/forecasts and charts. Dave was also able to take great photos for this article! The ESMERALDA sent marine shipboard observations throughout their cruise in efforts to support the VOS scheme.

Looking to the future, in August of 2015, Chile will be sponsoring the Voluntary Observing Ship Scheme/ International Port Meteorological Officer Workshop in Valparaiso. The Valparaiso Meteorological Center and the Chilean Navy are very dedicated to provide support and engage in participation of the Ship Observations Team. I look forward to visiting our friends and colleagues in August and hopefully they will offer up a ride on this beautiful ship.

Chile has two other vessels participating; the Navy Oceanographic Ship CABO DE HORNOS which is operating at Easter Island and their transport vessel AQUILES which travels to Antarctica.

Tour the ESMERALDA!

ESMERALDA Dockside, Port of Miami, photo by Dave Dellinger, VOS PMO Miami.

ESMERALDA Dockside, Port of Miami, photo by Dave Dellinger, VOS PMO Miami.

ESMERALDA, Port of Miami, photos by Dave Dellinger, VOS PMO Miami

ESMERALDA, Port of Miami, photos by Dave Dellinger, VOS PMO Miami

The Esmeralda
The Esmeralda