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The Nina Sails into Guntersville
Replica of Columbus Ship is Floating Museum
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The Nina

We all grew up learning about the three ships that were a part of the most famous voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492: the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. The Santa Maria, which Columbus never liked, was a cargo vessel and too heavy. It sank on Christmas Eve in 1492 in Hispaniola (now Cape Haitien). The Nina and Pinta were Caravels, a common trading vessel. Caravels were also used as cargo carriers, warships, patrol boats, and even corsairs (pirate ships). Their advantages were speed, a shallow draught, and maneuverability, plus the fact that they were good sailing ships.

The Pinta returned home but disappeared from history without a trace. The Nina was the favorite of Columbus. He logged over 25,000 miles under Columbus' command. Her official religious name was the "Santa Clara" after the patron saint of Moguer. Her nickname was Nina, after her master-owner Juan Nino of Moguer.

So, where did this replica of the Nina come from? In 1988, The Columbus Foundation hired John Patrick Sarafield--an American engineer and maritime historian--to build what was to become the first truly, historically correct replica of a 15th Century Caravel. John had discovered a group of master shipbuilders in Bahia, Brazil who were using design and construction techniques from the 15th Century. Unfortunately, before the ship was finished and while on a trip to select a main mast for the Nina in 1990, John was killed in a traffic accident. Jonathan Nance, British maritime historian, and one of the main researchers of the project, was asked to finish the ship.

In December of 1991, the Nina left the banks of the Rio Uno in Valenca, Brazil rigged as a four-master. It sailed into Costa Rica on January 23rd, 1992 to take part in the film 1492. Its voyage of over 4,000 miles represents the first time that a discovery caravel replica has made a successful unescorted open ocean passage of any considerable distance.

The Nina continues visiting ports and allowing schoolchildren and curious adults to experience what life for Columbus must have been like. The Nina was last in Alabama in 1999. While here, two Alabama men joined the crew--Adam Mashburn from Huntsville and Wade Eck from Florence (pictured below). They are currently working with a 5-member crew. This is the last year that the Nina will be visiting other ports. Next year it will dock in Mexico and be available for day excursions. This is your last chance to see Nina so close to home. It will be in Guntersville through Sunday, November 8, 2003. Tours are given from 9:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. For more information or group tours, call First Mate "Doc" at 505-491-2098. For more details on the ship, visit their website at www.thenina.com .

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The Nina in Guntersville Alabama

©2003 Jean Brandau, licensed to About.com
Photo ©2003 Jean Brandau, licensed to About.com

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