The barkentine, Gazela Primeiro, was built in the shipyard of J. M. Mendes in Setubal, Portugal. Her records, as she now stands, date from 1902. Gazela was built to carry fishermen to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Every spring she would leave Lisbon, laden with as many as 35 dories stacked on deck like drinking cups, a crew of 40 men (35 fishermen/sailors, two cooks, two mates and the captain), and a couple of apprentices. Her cargo hold would be full of salt as ballast. The salt would be used for the cod fish that were caught, preserving them for the long trip home. After a remarkably long commercial career, Gazela's last voyage to the Banks as a commercial fishing ship was made in 1969. About the time Gazela was laid-up after her final voyage to the Banks, the Philadelphia Maritime Museum was searching for an historic sailing vessel. Word reached Gazela's owners and the following year, she was purchased for the museum by philanthropist William Wikoff Smith. On May 24, 1971, with a crew of Americans (including one former Gazela engineer), the ship left for its new home in Philadelphia, tracing Columbus' route via the Canary Islands and San Juan, Puerto Rico and on Thursday, July 8th, made her first entrance into Philadelphia. In 1985, Gazela was transferred to the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild, the not-for-profit corporation that now maintains and operates the vessel with the help of donors and volunteers, sending her as Philadelphia's Tall Ship to events up and down the eastern seaboard of the U.S.
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