The story of a dream and the brave people who followed it through
Esteban Vicente Jimenez (Soria, 1953) was a professional canoeist with an ambitious dream: To build a wooden ship big and robust enough to sail around the entire world.
Despite the lack of money and living 250 km away from the nearest coast, in 1979 Esteban began to design ATYLA following the Spanish artisan shipwright standards. A few months and hundreds of sketches later, his original design received approval from naval architect PhD. Franciso Lasa Etxarri.
Esteban gathered a large group of friends and volunteers to start building the vessel in the small town of Vinuesa. They carved the inner parts and the masts using wood from surroundings forests.
Two massive truck needed to do 2 trips to bring all the wooden pieces to Lekeitio in 1982, where the final assembly was to take place. ATYLA was launched May 15, 1984 under the name 'Marea Errota'.
By them, Esteban and his friends already knew what they wanted to do: To circumnavigate the world following the Magellan-El Cano route and then, after the voyage is complete, use the vessel as a training ship. The idea was so impressive that in 1984 he received the Honourable Mention of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise. Unfortunately, the dream of circumnavigation never become a reality and Esteban and Co. had to find a new source of funding for their endeavour.
In 1986 Esteban set sail for the Caribbean to raise money by renting out the ATYLA for tourist sailing trips. But the odds were against the troop and the ship was completely looted before making it across the Atlantic.
Whilst moored in Lanzarote (Canary Islands) recovering from the robbery, the crew realised the potential for tourism in that area. They ended up staying in the port of Playa Blanca for 19 years leading a successful day-sailing-trip business.
In 2005 the Government of Cantabria hired ATYLA to represent the region. She was brought to Santander, where for six years she was used for all kinds of activities (sail training, day trips with scholars and environmental awareness trips).
Once the contract with the Government of Cantabria ended, Esteban was almost 60 years old, and his nephew Rodrigo de la Serna Vicente (Madrid, 1989) decided to take over the ATYLA to keep her sailing. In June 2013 they both moved the ship to the Mediterranean Sea.
At the end of that summer, ATYLA took part in the Mediterranean Tall Ships Regatta 2013 organized by Sail Training International (STI). That event reminded young Captain Rodrigo of his uncle's goal 30 years before and he decided to dedicate the ship to an educational project for the leaders of the future.
Since 2014, ATYLA sails every year a different route around Europe, visiting large maritime festivals and tall ship regattas. On average, each year the ship sails 11,000 nautical miles, stops 25 times in different ports and embarks hundreds of apprentices from dozens of different countries.