Everyone’s heard tell of Columbus’ journey to America, and his three ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María. But beyond that, most people don’t remember many details. Columbus’ purpose for the expedition was to find a shorter trade route to the Indies, by sailing west, thinking the earth was much smaller than it actually was. But none of the ships were at all new, and were all at least second-hand. Ships of this age and condition really weren’t the best for such a lengthly and grueling journey, but Columbus was daring, and foolhardy, so he decided to give it a go! The Santa María was the expedition’s flagship, and the largest of the three. After coming upon land in Cuba the Bahamas and Hispaniola, Columbus studied the native people, and found gold. While sailing in the middle of night, just before Christmas morning, 1492, the ship ran aground, and had to be abandoned. The ship was dismantled, and boards were taken from the ship, and used by the 39 men Columbus left there, to help start the Haitian settlement, La Navidad.
Today, in the most fitting of places, Columbus, Ohio, there is a complete, life-sized replica of the Santa María. Experts have claimed it to be the most accurate in existence. The Santa Maria offer tours aboard the ship, which last approximately 45 minutes. During the tour you will learn all about the ship and the voyage, the navigation tools used in the 1492, and how seafaring men lived. Occasionally special events occur on the Santa María, a list of which can be found by clicking here. There is also a special program, where you get to experience life as a sailor, and spend the night aboard the ship!
Admission aboard the Santa María costs $4.50 for adults, and $3.50 for children. Hours for touring the ship, directions, and nearby lodging can all be found on the Visitor Information page of SantaMaria.org.