Monday, June 14, 2010

How Columbus sailed the ocean blue

A replica of Christopher Columbus' famous ship will be dropping anchor in Peoria next month.

The Nina has stopped in Chillicothe and Peoria several times in the last 15 years, but this year the wooden, sea-going vessel is back - this time with its sister ship, the Pinta.

The replica ships will dock from July 9 to July 12 at the RiverPlex landing adjacent to the Spirit of Peoria.

"Little children love scrambling around the ships, and school-aged children study Columbus and his ships," said A.J. Sanger, a spokesman for the Columbus Fund. "Older people can appreciate and admire the work that went into building (the ships) ... and think about how small (it was) for men to go to sea in."

The Nina was built completely by hand and without the use of power tools in Bahia, Brazil, in 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus' entry into the new world. Archaeology magazine dubbed it "The most historically correct Columbus replica ever built." The boat is 93 1/2 feet long and about 52 feet tall and was featured in the film "1492."

The Pinta is a larger version of the Nina, which allows it to accommodate more people at one time.

The Pinta's deck length is 20 feet longer at 85 feet, and its sail area, about 3,800 square feet, is more than twice that of the Nina. It holds a 40-foot air conditioned main cabin below deck with seating and is available for private parties and charters.

Both ships are on tour year-round, stopping at ports across the country and offering sailing museums that feature not only Columbus history, but the history of the Caravel, a type of ship used for decades in the Columbus' era to explore the world.

The Nina and Pinta will be coming to Peoria from Hammond, Ind., and going to Burlington, La.

The last time the Nina docked in Peoria in 2007, visitors to the ship numbered between 8,000 and 10,000.

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