Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Nina and The Pinta

Sunrise casts the Pinta's rigging into silhouette

Whenever I hear that the Nina is coming for a tour I get all flustery inside. The Nina brings back some fond, magical memories of our first years on Wheeler Lake. She floated into Wheeler in the wee hours of night anchored outside our house, just a little upstream. The next morning, stepping out into the pre-dawn gloom with my coffee I could see her lights. As the sun rose her stately silhouette thrilled me to my bones. When she lifted anchor heading for Decatur I followed her and I've been following her ever since. This was my 3rd time seeing her and the thrill remains. We have a visceral connection, this ship and I. These days she tours with her new sister ship, the Pinta. This was the first time the Pinta has been here so I was doubly thrilled at the opportunity.

The Pinta

I assume everyone knows that Christopher Columbus used the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria in his first voyage across the Atlantic. These were common trading vessels - Caravels - used during the Age of Discovery.

The Nina is built to exact historical specifications. She is 65 feet in length with 1,919 square feet of sails, displacement is 80 tons. The first time seeing her you'll marvel at her small stature. Traveling across an ocean in this ship obviously proven the bravery of many men.

The Pinta is not built to exact historical specifications so there's a little more wiggle room for tourists these days. The Pinta is 85 feet in length with 4,000 square feet of sails. The Pinta's displacement is 101 tons. Though larger, I still cannot envision an ocean voyage on her. Sailing up and down the Tennessee River would be enough for me. Clearly, I'm a big chicken when it comes to overseas transportation.

The day began chilly and windy. Autumn has chased the sun downward, closer to the horizon so the light is at a harsh angle already. You can see the moon between the lines above.

The Pinta's Bow

Both ships were built in Valenca, Brazil, using only adzes, axes, hand saws and chisels in addition to naturally-shaped timbers from the local forest. The Pinta was built 16 years after the Nina, to accompany her on her tours of the western hemisphere.

The Nina's rigging, with moon above

All these facts come from a little slip of paper that you're given when you pay for your tour. The tour is fascinating and well worth the price of admission. For more details about both ships, the project, the ship designers and ship building methodology head over to their website, The Nina. It's fascinating. One can also sign up as a volunteer, which I would have done in a heartbeat but for the man in my house who fell from a ladder and who needs me right now. Dang. Maybe next time!

Nina's rigging detail

You can see more photos at my Facebook site so that I won't overload my blog site...which I have a tendency to do. The head crew guy said he would look at my photos and identify all the pieces and parts, if applicable. Some photos are merely interesting, but some are of ancient shipbuilding doohickies that I know nothing of...but fascinate, and are beautiful. Check them out if you wish at D. Bradford Photography.


Bo Mackison said...

Amazing shots, and docked so close to your home. Oh, wow! What a thrill to take these, and a tour, too.

Julie Magers Soulen said...

What a wonderful experience! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and great pics! I'm with you though, I don't think I would have liked crossing an ocean in a ship so small!

Julie Magers Soulen Photography

bunnits said...

Great shots! I I knew they were here, missed them this go-round, so I'm really glad you posted these. The first time I saw the Nina in Guntersville back in the '90's, I was amazed at how incredibly small she was. I remember thinking that the Mayflower seemed really big in comparison. It is truly amazing how the early sailors and explorers ever survived.

Randy Emmitt said...

I love history! Great photos of these fine old boats.

kendalee said...

How interesting! I do so love boats. My brother crossed the Atlantic in something not much more than half the size of the Nina. I was terrified when I saw how small it was - like a thimble! It really does give one new respect for those early explorers, doesn't it? Great photographs - thank you for sharing them :)

Rachel said...

awesome blog banner!!!


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