Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Niña replica sets its sails for Louisville
By Christa Ritchie
August 29, 2005
If you see a mysterious-looking ship cruising the Ohio River later this week, one that seems as if it sailed out of another time -- don't be alarmed.
It's just Christopher Columbus discovering Kentuckiana.
A replica of Columbus' famous ship, the Niña, is bound for Louisville -- not the same Niña that carried Columbus and crew to the New World in the late 1400s, of course, but as close as a modern vessel can get.
The Niña will sail into the Derby City on Wednesday and dock at the Louisville wharf. The public will be able to take a walk-aboard, self-guided tour beginning Thursday and every day through next Tuesday.
This version of the Niña was built by hand in Brazil by the Columbus Foundation and has been dubbed "the most historically correct Columbus replica ever built," according to Archaeology magazine.
The foundation, which is based in the British Virgin Islands, wanted to create an exact copy of Columbus' favorite ship so it could serve as a sailing musem in an effort to educate the public.
The Niña serves as the only touring maritime museum of its kind.
It has been touring ports along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North, Central and South America since 1992 as a sailing museum. It has stopped in Louisville three other times, in 1993, 1997 and 2000.
The Niña is a caravel -- a Portuguese ship that was a common trading vessel during the Age of New Discovery. The ships were also used as cargo carriers, warships, patrol boats and pirate ships. Speed and maneuverability were their advantages.
Life aboard the Niña was crowded. Cooking was done in a firebox on deck in the bow of the ship. Sleeping on the deck was uncomfortable because the ship was packed with cargo.
Today's more modern Niña is equipped with World War II-style pipe berths for sleeping its crew, an icebox that holds 1,000 pounds of ice and a small propane stove for cooking.
Christopher Columbus never had it so good.