Step back in time with an authentic reproduction of Christopher Columbus’ ship the Pinta that’s currently docked and open for tours at the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum’s Schooner Pier Complex in Biloxi.
The 85-foot ship is thought to be an accurate replica of the original ship and was built of wood at the hands of craftsmen using traditional 15th Century tools. The Pinta was one of three ships in Columbus’ fleet when he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and discovered the New World in 1492.
“It’s built out of Brazilian hardwood nicknamed ironwood using the same techniques that were used for the original over 530 years ago,” said ship Capt. Stephen Sanger. He added the ship was built in Brazil by about 20 Portuguese 8th-generation shipwrights and it took 36 months to craft it as accurately as possible.
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.
The ship is a Portuguese Caravel, which Sanger said was designed with cargo space that allowed the explorers to carry everything needed for the journey and colonization. The ship could hold up to a year’s worth of supplies, including cows, horses, sheep, chickens, and goats, but was without any luxuries for crew members.
The ship captain had the only cabin and everyone else slept on the deck. Each crew member’s rank determined where the sailor was allowed to sleep. Sanger explained that lower-ranking crew members slept toward the bow and higher ranks slept toward the stern which offered a smoother ride and more protection.
Sanger added the modern accommodations include diesel engines for navigating the canals and rivers, around barges, and waterway traffic, but the historical sails are authentic.
“All of the sails are rigged the same way,” Sanger said. “The way she handles out in the ocean is certainly the same.”
The ship weighs about 100 tons with a mast height of 52 feet and 2,000 square foot sails. Its average speed is about five knots.
The Pinta has logged 25,000 miles in 12 years and is part of Nina and Pinta Caravels, operated by Sanger Ships LLC. It will next head 147 miles down the Tennessee River to Paris Landing State Park in Buchanan, Tenn.
The last Biloxi tours for the Pinta are set for Saturday, April 1, and Sunday, April 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Self-guided tours and guided tours are available. No reservations are required to visit and learn about life aboard a ship in the late 1400s.
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Photo is courtesy of AerialSoultions.net and Sanger Ships, LLC.