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Public can tour Columbus' replica ships in Palmetto

Replicas of Columbus’ ships land in Palmetto

The Nina and the Pinta, replicas of Columbus' ships, landed in Palmetto on Wednesday morning.
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The Nina and the Pinta, replicas of Columbus' ships, landed in Palmetto on Wednesday morning.

PALMETTO -- The Nina and the Pinta sailed into Palmetto from the west Wednesday morning on the Manatee River.

The Columbus Foundation's replicas of Christopher Columbus' ships will dock at the Regatta Pointe Marina, 1005 Riverside Dr., Palmetto, until early Tuesday.

"This is living history," said Capt. Stephen Sanger on the Nina. "You are never going to be able to walk on board more historically accurate replicas of Christopher Columbus ships in the world. This is your opportunity to come down to these ships and walk aboard and see the craftsmanship and see what real hard work these shipwrights had to go through to build these ships. Back in the day, this opened a whole new trading route, a whole new world that people really never knew existed before Columbus came across."

The voyage to Manatee County began at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when the ships left downtown Fort Myers before landing in Palmetto shortly after 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. The public will have a chance to tour the ships, which were last in Manatee County three years ago, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday to Monday.

While not allowed to tour Wednesday, people gathered at the marina to welcome the ships to Manatee

County.

This was the first time 23-year-old Cassie Naja saw the ships, which she said were "pretty freaking cool."

"It is crazy how they maneuver in such tight space and the cannon was scary," the Clearwater resident said. "I'm excited to be able to tour them and do the whole thing. We made sure we were here on time to see them."

Mike Joyce, who lives in north Palmetto, brought his 3-year-old granddaughter.

"This is very interesting," Joyce said as the Pinta docked at the marina. "I enjoyed this."

This is the ninth year the Nina and Pinta have traveled the United States together, Sanger said.

"These are the most historically accurate replicas of Christopher Columbus' ships, the Nina and the Pinta," he said.

The Nina, constructed without any electricity, took 20 men and 32 months to construct.

After touring the Nina solo around the United States for 15 years, construction on the Pinta began in 2002, which took 20 men and 36 months.

The Santa Maria isn't on tour because it requires close to 14 feet of water whereas the Nina and Pinta require only 7 feet.

"There is crew aboard both ships from all around the U.S. who volunteer their time to come aboard the ships and are very knowledgeable about these ships and the history of the voyages," Sanger said.

Having the ships dock at Regatta Pointe Marina brings in revenue as well as marketing, said Dan McClanahan, marina general manager.

"It brings attention to the marina, the facility and everything we have to offer here," he said.

"It's going to benefit restaurant business. It's going to be beneficial for all our tenants here in the area. ... It is an educational opportunity for school system and community."

With the DeSoto Heritage Festival Grand Parade this Saturday, the timing is perfect, McClanahan said.

"It worked out well, extremely well," he said.

"It is going to bring them more business. It is fantastic."

Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.

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