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Glimpses of 1492 - Columbus dream sails into Knoxville

By John Disque

nina and pinta
The Nina and the Pinta. Photo by John Disque

Imagine setting sail from Spain on August 3rd 1492 with three vessels, (the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria) 120 armed men and a dream to discover a passage to Asia.

Three months later (in November 1492) the Pinta was blown away and lost in a violent storm. One month after that The Santa Maria crashed and sank to the bottom of the ocean and one month after that the Pinta rejoined the Nina to return back to Spain.

They returned to their family and friends in March 1493 but not before discovering a new world. At the time, it was thought to be The Indies that Columbus and his crew had landed-on but it turned it to be one of the Bahaman Islands which was the gateway to the Western Hemisphere.

nina and pinta downtown knoxville


What does all this have to do with Knoxville? – Well the Nina and Pinta arrived at Volunteer Landing on the TN river and will be visiting Knoxville from to November 3rd to November 17th. Admission is only 7.00 for adults, 6.00 for seniors, 5.00 for students and free to children under 4 years old.

The Pinta replica Is 15 feet longer than the original ship but the Nina (Columbus' favorite) is exactly to scale while Archaeology Magazine & The Columbus Foundation names it: "The most historically accurate replica of a Columbus Ship ever built." It was strictly handmade in Brazil, where they still use the same methods they did in the 15th century and the whole project was engineered and overseen by John Patrick Sarsfield www.thenina.com.

nina and pinta


What about The Santa Maria? While visiting the vessels at Calhoun's that question was soon answered: Being well over twice the size of the other ships (at 115 feet long) it would severely disrupt the venture and would make it virtually impossible. Columbus himself disliked The Santa Maria stating that it was too heavy, too big, too slow and was not suited for the purpose of discover.

The voyage has 35 stops this year and boasts "an all volunteer-crew." Crewmembers change throughout the year to accommodate the volunteer's schedules.

Before arriving to Knoxville they were in Chattanooga for two weeks and when they leave Knoxville on Nov. 17th they'll be sailing away to Columbus, Ms. Don't miss your chance to see a rare, essential piece of history. The ships are docked at Calhoun's on the River, Neyland Drive.

Published November 15, 2010

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