Mexican tall ship moored at North Vancouver pier

There's a tall, Latin beauty hanging around the docks in North Vancouver this week.

The Mexican Navy's tall ship Cuauhtémoc moored at the Burrard Dry Dock Pier Tuesday morning and is inviting guests to come aboard.

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Made in a Spanish shipyard in 1982, the 90-metre 1,600-tonne Cuauhtémoc is used as a training vessel for upcoming officers in Mexico's navy.

Of the 245 sailors aboard, 90 are students from Mexico's Heroic Naval-Military School who will graduate next year.

Though they receive university-level training in seamanship and tactics to patrol Mexico's coasts in modern vessels, there's no substitute for learning old-fashioned basics, said Capt. Juan Carlos Vera. "They get trained on how to manoeuvre the sails, how to deal with wind, and how to deal with weather and be in contact with the environment - waves, rain, heat, warm, cool - and to experience being far away from home," Vera said.

"It's a way to make sure the spirit of the cadets gets strong. They get the knowledge to be a sailor but, underway they become a real sailor."

The Cuauhtémoc left port in Acapulco in April and has been visiting cities around the Caribbean, South and North American coasts.

After it departs on Thursday, the crew is headed for Seward, Alaska and Honolulu, Hawaii before returning home in November.

The ship was greeted by dozens of members of the Mexican diaspora, photographers and kids whose attendance was apparently not required at school Tuesday morning.

Making a grand entrance, the cadets came to shore standing abreast on the ship's yards.

This is to demonstrate their discipline and "spine bone" Vera said.

"The first time is scary but it's also exciting because it's new experience," said fifth-year cadet Marina Kuk Constanza who stood on the second highest yard. "It's really exciting and I like it."

There are two guns mounted on the deck, though they are used only for ceremonial salutes and there is no live ammunition aboard.

This is in keeping with the Cuauhtémoc's second purpose - to bring a message of peace from Mexico, Vera said.

Cuauhtémoc is open for free public tours on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 till 8 p.m.

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