The Nina and Pinta rediscover America when they land in Palmetto on Friday

Replicas of two of the three ships Christopher Columbus commanded on his maiden voyage to the Americas will sail into the Manatee River and dock at Regatta Pointe on Friday morning.

It should be quite the sight as the two historically correct ships arrive around 11 a.m., though the time is an estimate. The ships representing the Nina and Pinta will be open for public tours beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday. Admission for adults is $8.50, $7.50 for seniors and $6.50 per child between the ages of 5-16. Children under the age of 4 are free.

The Pinta is the most recently constructed vessel and was built in Brazil, while the Nina is considered to be more historically accurate. The Nina was built completely by hand without the use of power tools.

Teachers or organizations wishing to schedule a 30-minute guided tour with a crew member should call 787-672-2152 or visit ninapinta.org.

It’s not the first trip for the Columbus Foundation, which tours the ships nationwide. Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said it turned into a major attraction the last time they were here and expects no different this weekend.

It’s quite an event,” Bryant said. “There is a lot of traffic generated by it and anytime we can draw people to Palmetto to visit and see the nice city we have is a great thing, but it’s really great for the kids to see history up close and personal. It’s really, truly awesome and when I went the last time and talked to a lot of people, there was so much excitement.”

The Nina and Pinta were part of the primary sailing group named after the Santa Maria and few realize that technically all three ships were named Santa Maria and that Nina and Pinta were more like nicknames. The Santa Maria was the largest of the three vessels and the Nina was Columbus’s favorite ship.

She served as Columbus’s flagship on his second voyage to the New World, as well as his third in 1498. She is believed to have been lost while voyaging to the Pearl Coast around 1501.

The Pinta was the oldest of the ships, almost a half-century old even before making the maiden voyage to the New World. She made the second voyage as well, but nothing is known of her fate following that trip.

The Santa Maria was lost om Christmas Eve 1493 a year after the maiden voyage when an unauthorized crew member was manning the wheel and ran her aground on a sandbank off the coast of Haiti. The ship was damaged to the point where Columbus ordered his men to strip the timbers from her and they were used to build Fort La Navidad.

The remains of her, as well as the Nina and Pinta were never found despite decades of searching. In 2014, remnants of the Santa Maria were thought to be discovered, but dating put the ship’s age at more than a century after the Santa Maria. They are considered the “Holy Grail,” of marine archeology.

Breaking News/Real Time Reporter Mark Young began his career in 1996 and has been with the Bradenton Herald since 2014. He has won more than a dozen awards over the years, including the coveted Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting from the Florida Press Club and for beat reporting from the Society for Professional Journalists to name a few. His reporting experience is as diverse as the communities he covers.
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