093021_santamariarrives

The Nao Santa Maria sails up the Brunswick River on Wednesday afternoon.

Christopher Columbus’s flagship came calling at the port city of Brunswick late Wednesday afternoon.

Well, actually, the Nao Santa Maria is a replica of the hearty vessel that joined the Nina and Pinta on that daunting voyage of discovery to the uncharted Americas more than 500 years ago.

But this tall-masted sailing ship bears a striking resemblance to the actual Santa Maria. Folks can see for themselves over the next four days.

The ship will be open for tours from 10 a.m. through 7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at Brunswick Landing Marina, where it is docked on the East River. The cost is $15 adults, $5 for children and $35 for a family pass.

The original Santa Maria wrecked in the New World late in 1492, sometime after Columbus’s historic voyage to lands previously unknown to folks back in the Old World. The shipwreck was scavenged to construct shelter for those who remained behind while the rest of Columbus’s crew returned home on the smaller caravels Nina and Pinta.

This Santa Maria was constructed in March of 2018 in Huelva, Spain, according to the 15th century nautical specifications. The ship has a 93-foot-long wooden hull and an 82-foot-tall mainmast. This replica was designed based on detailed Spanish records dating back to the original Santa Maria’s construction. Nao is a term describing a particular model of sailing ship from the late Middle Ages.

This Nao Santa Maria made its maiden voyage to the Americas in late 2018, arriving in Puerto Rico in December after a 23-day Atlantic crossing.

While the 12-person crew does most of their travel under sail, this modern Santa Maria has engine power when needed. It also sports GPS and other modern navigational technologies required by contemporary international sailing regulations.

However, these modern trappings and the creature comforts for the crews’ quarters are tucked away in the stern. The ship’s main decks, rigging, sails and other details that are featured on the tour all are made according to the the dawning of the Age of Discovery.

The ship has spent the past two years bringing its floating history classroom to ports of call throughout America. It was last in Brunswick for a weeklong stay in April 2019.

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