KITTERY, Maine — Christopher Columbus may not be sailing the ocean blue into Kittery on Wednesday, but his ships will be.
Replicas of the Niña and Pinta, two ships under Columbus’ command when he discovered North America, will be arriving at Badger’s Island Marina tomorrow afternoon and staying for nearly a week.
The ships are expected to sail into the dock at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, according to Capt. Morgan Sanger of The Columbus Foundation, which owns and operates the vessels.
The ships were last here three years ago, an “exploratory visit” to see if the Seacoast area would be interested in touring the Niña and Pinta.
Sanger said he and the crew are delighted to be returning.
“We love the coast of Maine,” he said, adding that the ships will head north to several ports along the coast of the Pine Tree State after leaving Kittery.
The Niña was built in 1990 and 1991, and is considered the most accurate replica of a Columbus ship ever built, according to the foundation. The original Niña, Sanger said, was Columbus’ favorite ship. It made several trips to the New World during the late 15th century.
The replica Niña is as accurate as possible, with shipwrights using traditional tools to build it.
The Columbus Foundation built the Pinta in 2005.
“We try to explain to people what it was like to be on a ship 500-plus years ago,” Sanger said. “Half the sailors on the first voyage came out of prisons. They had to wonder, ‘Is it better to sail with Columbus and drop off the edge of the Earth or is it better to stay in prison?'”
He said everyone on the original ships, which also included the Santa Maria, slept on deck, and there was a fireplace on the deck, as well, where meals were cooked. Animals were in the hold.
“They expected it to be a year before they reached Asia,” said Sanger, as at the time, no one knew that North America existed. The ships were sailing to find a way via the ocean to the lucrative Asian trade.
The ships will be at Badger’s Island Marina through June 18. Tours begin Thursday, June 12, and continue through June 17.
For information, visit www.thenina.com.
GO & DO
What: The Niña and Pinta
When: June 12-17 for public tours
Time: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
Cost: Self-guided tours, including a film, are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $6 for students 5-16, and free for children 4 and under. A 30-minute guided tour with a crew member is available to groups of 15 or more, at a cost of $5 per person.