One of three ships used on Columbus' voyages of discovery.

St. Augustine, Florida is currently celebrating the 485th birthday of its founder, Admiral Don Pedro Menendez de Avilles. Considered by many to be the oldest, continuously occupied European settlement in the United States, St. Augustine, in celebrating its Spanish heritage, will have in port, the touring replica of the Niña, one of the three ships used by Columbus on his maiden Voyage to the "New World."

The original Niña was actually named Santa Clara, after the Patron Saint of Moguer, but was always called Niña, after the ship's owner, Juan Nino of Moguer. The Niña was built in the Ribera de Moguer, which was an estuary then, and she, the Niña, completed the first voyage, eventually returning Columbus to his home. On her second voyage, Niña sailed to Hispaniola and was chosen by Columbus for his voyage to Cuba. The Niña was the only ship in the West Indian waters to survive the hurricane of 1495, and again, returned Columbus and his crew back to Spain. After being pirated and rescued, Niña was among the sails of Columbus' third voyage in 1498, and was anchored in Santo Domingo in 1500. After logging over 25,000 miles, the original Niña's last voyage was a trading expedition to the Pearl Coast in 1501.

The newest Niña, now on tour as a "sailing museum", was conceived in 1988 by american engineer John Sarsfield. As a maritime historian, he insisted on using the same types of tools as were used five centuries before, and "naturally-shaped" timbers from the Brazilian forest, to create the replica docked in St. Augustine today. Along with British maritime historian, Jonathan Nance and master shipbuilders from Valenca, Brazil, the Niña now appears as she did, sailing from the Canary Islands, in September, 1492. Coincidentally, on her maiden voyage from Brazil, the Niña sailed to Cost Rica to appear in the film 1492.

The newest Niña, in her present role, has visited over 300 ports in the United States, giving us a chance to discover what Columbus used to discover. What goes around, comes around.


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