A corsair boarding ship traveling along the Basque coast “with a cargo of culture”

A patache, once a boat used by corsairs for small coastal sabotage, will become this summer a ship loaded with “cargo of culture”. The Elkano Itsas Herria crossing, promoted by the Elkano Foundation, Albaola and Euskal Itsas Museoa, will visit more than twenty coastal towns, carrying with it an extensive program of activities with the aim of saving the link between Euskal Herria and the sea through the maritime heritage.

With the backdrop of the fifth centenary of the end of the first circumnavigation of the globe, the Elkano Foundation has developed the Elkano Itsas Herria cultural route. “We want to claim the importance that the sea has had in Euskal Herria. It is about recovering it because it projects us into the future. It is an initiative that looks to the past and to the future”, explained this morning the vice-general of Gipuzkoa and patron of the Elkano Foundation, Markel Olano, during the presentation of the initiative.

Thus, from this month until September, the Patache Juanita Larando, a replica built by Albaola of an Oriotarra boat from the beginning of the 18th century, will travel from Abanto-Zierbena to Donibane Lohizune, stopping in more than twenty coastal towns. During its journey, the ship will take with it an exhibition in barrels on the history of the Basque peoples with the sea and the feat carried out 500 years ago by Juan Sebastian Elkano.

In addition, at each stop different cultural activities will be carried out, from concerts to theatrical performances and guided tours that will be specified in the dates to come. “The sea is a relationship between peoples. Each port will bring something cultural to the ship, so it will sail with a load of culture”, indicated Xabier Agote, president of Albaola Itsas Kultur Faktoria, and Xabier Alberdi, director of Euskal Itsas Museoa, specifying that the patache will have a mixed crew of people from Albaola and inhabitants of each of the participating municipalities.

The first stage of the Juanita Larando will be the Pasaia Itsas Festibala, which will be held from the 26th to the 29th of this month. From these dates, the ship will sail along the coast of Euskal Herria, from Biscay to Labourd, ending on September 18 in Donibane Lohizune on the occasion of European Heritage Days. Before, on September 6, the boat will participate in the landing of Elkano in Getaria.


The symbol of the crossing of Elkano Itsas Herria will therefore be the patache Juanita Larando, a replica of an Orio boat used by the corsairs. “They used it for small coastal sabotage and there are documents indicating that they went to Seville for oil or even to Brittany,” Agote revealed. In addition, this type of boat was also used by the coastguards and even during wars because it was equipped with small cannons.

However, its most frequent use was for privateer approaches due to its easy mobility and lightness. For this reason, the name of Juanita Larando was chosen to name it, a woman from San Sebastian who had an inn for corsairs in the capital of Gipuzkoa and who acquired two of these ships, one called San Juan and the another San Pedro.

“With him we recover all his secrets, how he swam, what tools were used to build him, where he moved… Details that are often not understood with an explanation from a historian”, has added Agote.


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