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FROM LUIGI PALMA TO GOLETA GRINGO

137 years of living history

Goleta Gringo is a 120ft schooner, built under the name Luigi Palma by the Roncallo shipyard, in Pegli (Genoa, Italy) in 1886. Today, she is one of the oldest sailboats in the world that is still sailing, besides preserving her original rig and part of the original hull.

Looking through historical records, there is some evidence of the  construction of the schooner in two well-known local books of history (Splendore e declino di Pegli turistica and PEgli nel tempo e nei tempi), with an 1885 photo of a similar boat being built on the beach.

1886 The beginning 

She was built as a wind-powered cargo sailboat, having 2 gaff sails, 2 topsails and 3 jibs (total sail area: <420 square meters). This way, she sailed between Europe and South America for 4 decades.

In her first days, she used to sail between the Mediterranean sea and the north of Europe, carrying Carrara marble from Toscana to Ireland. Later, she carried coal between the north of Europe and South America (Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina).

Likewise, she transported European immigrants to America, who paid the price of the volume of coal that they occupied (bulk). At the port of La Plata (in Buenos Aires, Argentina) the sailboat was loaded with wheat and went back to Italy.

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1933 The ultimate Atlantic Crossing

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In the year of 1933, she arrived in Argentina and she never went back to Europe again.

Once, there, the Pegliese crew kept the sailboat for themselves and rebaptized her as Pegli.  She was registered with the number 45 in the Merchant fleet of Argentina.

She kept sailing for decades along the southern coast of South America, carrying potatoes and onions between Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil), taking coffee form Rio Grande do Sul to Buenos Aires and carrying general cargo to Mar del Plata and Necochea (Argentina) and carrying wood up the Parana River.

1950 The Transformation

In the 1950's (circa 1954), the schooner's rigging was partially reduced and the first engine was incorporated to supply the new needs of transportation

1970 From Schooner to Barge

Later, in the 1970's, her rigging was completely removed and she was transformed into a barge. She spent her last years of activity in the delta of the Paraná river (Buenos Aires) until she was eventually abandoned by the banks of the Lujan river in 1974

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1990's The Restoration

In the 1990's.the schooner Pegli was lucky to be rediscovered by her current owner and captain, who restored her completely on his own, spending more than 20 years getting her into sailing condition again.

The boat had been lying sunken by the banks of the Lujan river where she had been abandoned. In order to get her afloat, Fernando first had to empty her of clay and trash.

She was rotten from stem to stern and little of the original hull-plating could be recovered. However, the boat frames are the original ones and are still intact. The had been manufactured by  Dorman Long & Co. British constructional engineers and bridge builders who constructed the Sydney Harbour Bridge some decades later!

For the restoration, Fernando was dependent on only a few files. Argentina's National Marine Register had discarded all the data of the schooner. 

Consequently, the hull and the rigging of the schooner could be restored from old pictures, programs of digital reconstruction and the memories of an old sailor of the Luigi Palma. 

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Mr. Fausto Bragagna spent many years of his life aboard, together with his father who used to be the boat's Master. He traveled many times to South America and, finally, remained in Argentina (just as the sailboat!).

Before dying, he came up to the restored sailboat and could not believe what he was facing. He was not sure that Fernando would be able to make the schooner sail again...

He made this drawing of the sailboat especially for the occasion and he confirmed the calculations of the ballast and the sail-area, as well as sharing part of her forgotten history.

Although a new engine and two generators have been incorporates, besides the aid of new technology (radas, GPS, etc.) with her original schooner rig, original frames and riveted iron hull, Gringo is, in fact, the same schooner that was sailing the ocean 137 years ago..

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After many years of work and effort put on her restoration, this this historic schooner is sailing again along South America and is ready to arrive in Genoa -after almost 100 years- as she did in those magical days of the nineteenth century.

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