Land ho! Recreation Nina and Pinta dock in Pittsburgh

By Bridget Seelinger | the Duquesne Duke

Zachary Landau | the Duquesne Duke The ships are open to the public until Oct. 12, at which point they will sail to Charleston West Virginia.

Zachary Landau | the Duquesne Duke
The ships are open to the public until Oct. 12, at which point they will sail to Charleston West Virginia.

Travel back in time and step aboard the Nina and Pinta, both docked at Station Square until Oct. 12. These full-scale replicas of the original Nina and Pinta, which made the historic journey with the Santa Maria in 1492, are open to the public just in time for Columbus Day as well.

The ships are here on a 20-city tour that takes them from New York all the way to Wisconsin.

The original Nina and Pinta traveled with Columbus, who rode on the Santa Maria, to the New World and ushered in a new age of exploration as conquistadors from Spain and explorers from Holland, England and France sought new territory in the rich fertile lands of North and South America.

These replicas, however, were made in Brazil by an American engineer and maritime historian, John Patrick Sarsfield, who wanted to create the first truly accurate 15th century ship. These ships were made by hand in the old way and plastered with pine tar to be water resistant. It took roughly 32 months to construct the Nina and 36 months to construct the Pinta.

A visitor can climb aboard using a gangway that stretches from the Station Square docks to the steep stairs of the ships. They are then free to roam around the main deck of the Nina and the two decks of the Pinta. Scattered along the decks are explanations for what the ropes of the ships are used for and historical artifacts. On the Pinta, there is a display of the Santa Maria, to help illustrate the basic designs of the ships. In the rear of the Nina, there is a jar full of pine tar that a visitor can smell. All of this helps bring the history of these ships to life.

The ships are smaller than one would think. The Nina measures 65-feet long, and the Pinta measures 85-feet long. That measures to only about a quarter of a football field. Despite their size, though, these ships are responsible for one of the most important discoveries of the 15th century.

Gunner, a volunteer crewmember from Kentucky, says that the crew live below decks and sail the ships from city to city.

“It’s a unique adventure,” he said. “But I love it. It’s a great way to see places and meet new people.”

The crew is comprised of volunteers who live in the modernized area below decks. According to Gunner, the crew has a TV and electricity. This area of the ships is not available for visitors to tour.

The ships are open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $6 for children ages 5-16 and free children under the age of 5.

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