Nina, Pinta sail into Q-C

While on my internship at the Quad City Times, I wrote a feature of the Nina and Pinta, ships of the Columbus Foundation – the only two operational replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships in the world.
Click to read more:

Crew talks about life aboard replicas of Columbus’ ships
By Anis Shakirah Mohd Muslimin

Around 15 months ago while renovating the Hyatt Hotel in Savannah, Georgia, Jeff Hicks, 55, saw two ships pass by at lunch time.

Eager to know more, the former carpenter and Florida native went to see the boats, eventually becoming a crew member. Since then, and with almost 16,000 miles under his belt, he’s never looked back.

Hicks is part of the 12 member crew on board the Pinta and Nina ships of the Columbus Foundation – the only two operational replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships in the world.

The Pinta and Nina sailed into Davenport on Tuesday from Clinton. The replicas will be open to the public Thursday through Aug. 21.

Crew members live on the ships while traveling from different states to exhibit the replicas.

“I’ve had a great time doing it,” said Hicks, who works as a cook and deckhand on the Pinta. “I was laying in bed the other night and I was thinking, I’ve probably accumulated four life times of vacations.”

Hicks, who’s been sailing since he was 10, said living and working on the Pinta is a dream come true.

The Nina was built by hand without the use of power tools and is considered to be the most historically correct Columbus replica ever built. The Pinta was built in Brazil, and is a larger version of the archetypal caravel, according to a release.

The ships have a mix of new and experienced crew members. Stephen Sanger has been commanding the Nina for the past five years, and has been a crew member for almost nine years.

“I feel like we’re a selected few who get to travel across the country, sharing history, putting smiles on little kids’ faces and seeing different cultures,” he said. “It’s great; it’s my third time up here in the Quad-Cities. I feel like I’m almost turning local in these areas.”

He said the Pinta and Nina have been travelling around the United States since 2009 and 1992, respectively. This year is the Nina’s 25th anniversary.

“Columbus logged in 25,000 miles, whereas our Nina has log in well over 300,000 miles. It’s traveled a lot of places, and has logged in a lot of miles. A lot of people around the country has seen the Nina,” he said, crediting the Nina’s longevity to today’s more advanced technology, better resources, and the crew’s efforts to maintain the ship.

Before arriving in Davenport, Sanger said, the ships made stops in Minnesota, Wisconsin and some parts of Iowa. Crew members will end their upper Mississippi tour at Hannibal, Missouri, before heading to the Tennessee River this fall.

For Kat Wilson, 22, of Florida, sailing is a rare and fun opportunity because of the tranquility that comes along it. She works as a deckhand on the Nina.

“The sails are filled with air and the ships are bouncing around with little waves and there’s nothing around,” she said. “You forget about the busy cities and everybody’s problems – there’s nothing but the power of the wind.”To her, the historical exposure she gets from work is ultimately why she loves her job, adding that the travel is just a “bonus.”

To her, the historical exposure she gets from work is ultimately why she loves her job, adding that the travel is just a “bonus.”Being a crew member also allows a person to gain people skills, Wilson said. She notes that in a single day from morning to evening, more than a thousand visitors can flood the ships.

Being a crew member also allows a person to gain people skills, Wilson said. She notes that in a single day from morning to evening, more than a thousand visitors can flood the ships.”If you don’t have people skills, you realize you are going to learn them while on board,” she said. “And a lot of those people are essentially going to be asking the same questions, but they don’t necessarily want the same answer.”

“If you don’t have people skills, you realize you are going to learn them while on board,” she said. “And a lot of those people are essentially going to be asking the same questions, but they don’t necessarily want the same answer.”Besides getting to share the history behind the ships, Wilson said, she believes crew members also gain knowledge of the people and the cities they visit.

Besides getting to share the history behind the ships, Wilson said, she believes crew members also gain knowledge of the people and the cities they visit.”We’re learning about the places that we’re traveling to more than just by looking at them,” she said. “We’re also learning new things every day.”

“We’re learning about the places that we’re traveling to more than just by looking at them,” she said. “We’re also learning new things every day.”

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