(Photo from Nina & Pinta Caravels Facebook page)
You can step back into 1492 every Saturday and Sunday through April 2nd on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
History has come alive at the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum’s Schooner Pier in Biloxi. A life-size replica of the Pinta has docked for people to see, smell, and touch as a vital part of the country’s history.
“We have a replica of the Pinta, one of the ships Christopher Columbus used to cross the ocean on that first voyage on August 3rd, 1492,” said Captain Stephen Sanger.
The Pinta of 1492 had the goal of opening trade routes for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The ship, then, was slightly smaller than this replica.
“This ship was built about 15 feet longer and six feet wider to accommodate more people,” said the Captain. “It was built in Brazil by eighth generation Portuguese shipwrights using the same techniques that were used for the originals over 530 years ago.”
Captain Sanger added that while some modern accommodations in technology have been made to the Pinta for safety and travel reasons, much of the historical function is preserved.
“All of the sails are rigged the same way,” said Capt. Sanger. “The way she handles out in the open ocean is certainly the same.”
Tours for the Pinta are scheduled for every Saturday and Sunday through April 2nd from 9am to 4pm. Self-guided tours and guided tours are available and group tours can be set up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pinta sails beyond Biloxi as part of Nina and Pinta Caravels, operated by Sanger Ships LLC. Before Biloxi, the ship was docked in Alabama for repairs that could not be made while touring.
“We have diesel engines on-board to be able to navigate the canals and rivers, around barges and waterway traffic,” said Capt. Sanger. “The traffic you’d see when traveling the Illinois River, the Ohio, the Tennessee, the Cumberland river.”
The Pinta has logged 25,000 miles in 12 years and is operated by the contributions of those who visit the ship and by volunteers who actually join the crew, whether for just a port, or a longer trip to determine where life will take them next.
“We get a lot of those fresh out of college, a lot of retirees,” said Capt. Sanger. “They travel with us about nine months out of the year. Right now, there’s only about three of us.”
As the time in Biloxi comes to a close, the ship will need more crew members.
“Come April, we’ll head north, and we’ll need more volunteers for this more expansive trip,” said the Captain.
Crew members can join for as little as two weeks at a time. They operate the ship, give guided tours, and previous sailing experience is not required.
For more information about the Pinta, visit Facebook or Instagram at Nina & Pinta Caravels.