CATSKILL — Replicas of two of Christopher Columbus’ three famous ships, the Nina and the Pinta, were seen sailing along the Hudson River under the Rip Van Winkle Bridge on Wednesday afternoon.
Dozens of spectators gathered at Dutchmen’s Landing in Catskill just past noon to watch the ships sail up the Hudson River from their stop in Newburgh, where they were docked from Friday through Tuesday.
“I’m lucky to be able to travel around in one of the few [Columbus’] replica ships,” said Stephen Sanger, the captain of the Nina. “We get to travel waterways very few people get to travel, see different cultures and meet new people.”
The ships are owned by the Columbus Foundation, based in the British Virgin Islands. The vessels serve as a traveling museum, making stops at various ports around the Western Hemisphere.
On average, the ships travel about 10 months out of the year from 30 to 40 different locations around the United States, according to the website thenina.com.
The ships offer education to the public about the Age of Discovery and the caravel sailing ship — the style of both the Nina and the Pinta.
The Columbus Foundation does not have a Santa Maria replica because it is a different type of ship, known as a Nao, which is considerably larger than a caravel ship. A Santa Maria replica would not be able to travel to many of the places the Nina and Pinta visit, according to the website.
The Nina replica is the most historically accurate replica of a Columbus ship ever built. But the Pinta was built 15 feet longer and 8 feet wider than the original to accommodate more people and be used for dock side events, according to the website.
The Nina has been traveling since 1993, Sanger said.
“The Pinta was finished in about 2005 and both of them have been traveling together since around 2009,” he said. “We generally get a good turnout, especially when the weather is nice.”
The weather can greatly affect the ship’s sailing ability, the captain said.
“It’s more of a problem out on the open ocean,” Sanger said. “On rivers, it can get foggy — if it gets too foggy, we have to pull over.”
The ships travel at a speed of about 8 mph, Sanger said.
A few people gathered at Dutchmen’s Landing to watch the vessels cruise up the Hudson as much as an hour before they came into view.
“I heard about it on the radio, channel 106.9,” Joe Brandow, 70, of Catskill said. “I just came down to watch them go by.”
“We heard about it from a friend,” said Frank and Ann Corrado, of Catskill. “We come to the park all the time, but this time we came to see the ships.”
Jane Freese of Kiskatom heard about the ships’ passing online.
“I’m disappointed they didn’t stop,” she said.
“I didn’t even know about them until I came here,” said Megan Meyer, 22, of Hudson. “I just came here to walk around — I heard someone talking about them, so I decided to stay.”
Bruce Schmitt, 66, of Catskill, has seen one of the ships before, he said.
“I was in Florida visiting friends and we saw the Nina — this was a few years before the second one [the Pinta] was built.”
Schmitt said he heard about the ships coming through Catskill online.
“It’s good that they tour around the country,” he said. “It’s cool to think that they traveled the ocean in boats that small.”
The ships were expected to arrive in Albany at around 4 p.m. Wednesday, where they will be docked at the Albany Yacht Club until they depart early Monday morning.
They will be open to the public for tours at the Albany location July 13-16 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
No reservations are required to visit. Admission for a walk-aboard, self-guided tour is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for students ages 5–16. Children ages 4 and under are free.
For questions or more information, call 787-672-2152 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit the ships website at thenina.com.