Israel's Good Name

Boarding the Esmeralda

In Haifa, Israel on October 3, 2012 at 1:59 PM

With only a few weeks left till I start army service, Chol HaMoed Sukkot provides an excellent opportunity to grab a few more trips to blog about. This post is about our family trip to see the Chilean Navy ship, the Esmeralda. The longest sailing ship in the world, the Esmeralda came to Haifa Port last week and was used to host an Israeli Navy celebration. I happened to be in Haifa that day, meeting an old friend of mine, and was at the train station watching the party ensue on-board.

Esmeralda and stormy skies

Being a “fan” of the Israel Navy Facebook page I was alerted to the fact that this was a Chilean Navy ship and that it was open to the public for a few days before moving along. Despite the fact that we arrived before the public visits start there was still a very long line and it took a while before we made it into the first section of the port. There were four waiting stations, as I like to call it and at the latter ones many good photos of the port and the ongoing maritime activities were taken.

Industrial port

Later on-board, when I asked one of the sailors where they’ve been, he informed me that they had just come from India and were heading next to Turkey. Being that yesterday was the last day in Haifa Port, the Esmeralda is cruising the Mediterranean now, headed for Turkey.

To the ship!

For a bit of historical trivia, the Esmeralda is the sixth Chilean Navy ship to bear that name, a tradition of sorts bearing back to 1820 when Admiral Cochrane of the Chilean Navy captured the Spanish frigate Esmeralda. The Esmeralda that we visited in the Port of Haifa was built back in 1946 and is used for training and circling the world, visiting various international ports and opening up for the public. In the same port area that we were in, the Israeli Navy stores its ships. Here is the INS Hanit and the INS Eilat, both Sa’ar 5 corvettes:

INS Eilat and INS Hanit

It should be noted that the INS Hanit, on the left, was nearly sunk during the Second Lebanon War when a Hezbollah anti-ship missile struck it. And while speaking about navy ships, the Chilean Navy actually possesses three Israeli-made Sa’ar 4 missile boats, naming them the Chipana, the Casma and the Angamos. Returning to the Esmeralda, here is the greeter that ushered us up the gangplank and onto the ship:

Chilean Navy sailor

On-board we were allowed to roam about and take pictures of everything, including the Chilean sailors who enjoyed saying “de nada” to me after I thanked them in flawed Spanish for their time and smiles. Here the Chilean Navy makes a few pesos selling Israelis various products from their homeland:

Selling Chilean products on-deck

And here I posed with Chilean sailors Moises Abad and Pedro Apablaza (I want that surname!). Moises Abad wasn’t sure if he was Jewish, but his name sure sounds judío.

Posing with Chilean sailors Pedro Apablaza and Moises Abad

Here is a nice picture of what it looked like on-deck, the spiffy sailors and officers dressed in stark white, the tall masts with the eternal mess of ropes and rigging… all against the cloudy sky:


On the starboard side of the ship there was a table selling souvenirs and I got a t-shirt that commemorates the Esmeralda “circling the world” tour. Even though it was labelled size M, Midshipman Evelyn Mora was certain that the shirt would fit me… so if it doesn’t I know who to complain to.

Midshipman Evelyn Mora packaging my t-shirt

In the centre of the ship, after the table selling shirts, mugs and posters, there is the superstructure and the various control rooms. After listening to one-too-many Clive Cussler audio-books I now know what these nautical “terms” look like in person. Here is the superstructure and one of the four masts:

Looking up beside the superstructure

After thoroughly examining the 371-foot long ship we headed for the gangplank to walk the plank off the ship… and back onto the dock. On our way we marvelled at the line which got bigger during the hour and a half that we were on the ship.

Long lines on the docks

But before disembarking the vessel I poked my hand into one of the ports and took this photo of the kitchen. The crew’s lunch was cooking and, I must say, it didn’t smell good.

Inside the kitchen

Aside from the unappetizing-smelling lunch, the visit to the Esmeralda was very interesting and unique and the sailors and officers very courteous. If you, o’ reader, would like to board the Esmeralda I’d suggest you fly to Turkey ASAP or arrange something with the Somalian pirates… in which case the Chileans wouldn’t be as courteous. Or, better yet, maybe they’ll come around to Haifa next year.



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