Monday, October 11, 2004

What a Saturday!!!!!

Won't get into all the activities on Saturday, but had to share one of the many 'blasts' we had:

After getting up early to drive a couple of hours to meet some friends in the Muskogee area, we decided to load up and visit The Nina, a full size replica of one of the three ships (Nina, Pinta & Santa Maria) used my Christopher Columbus to find the new world. Prior to going, I did a little research, but thought what I had found was in error. Documents I reviewed indicated the Nina was 93 feet in length ... that had to be wrong, because I have seen dozens of movies with ships from that time period, and they were huge. All I can say is: Not the Nina!

We drove up and saw it from a distance, but it felt like I was looking at it from an airplane. I thought there is no way that thing is as small as it appears to be, but as we got closer, it didn't get any larger. After paying the small 'boarding' fee, and figuring out what postcards were going to be purchased afterwards, we proceeded to the Nina. Where it was docked on the Arkansas River, they were able to secure a small barge between the shore and the Nina so it was easier for the visitors to access. While it looked small from the shore, it felt even smaller after boarding. The deck was sloped from the center out, to aid in the removal of water from choppy seas. On the 93' ship was another 18' boat, not a life boat per se, but the "ship's boat" used to go ashore with in the original days. One of the crew members was providing a running tour of the vessel (whenever I use that term, I hear Chekhov from Star Trek ... back to the story) and explained how the storage hold below deck was only for supplies and animals, and that the crew remained above deck the entire time. There was one additional area below deck for Christopher Columbus and his "cabin boy", but that area was only 6'w X 6'd X 4'h and the only ventilation for this area was from the hatch he had to crawl through to get into it .. there were no port holes. The idea of setting off across the ocean into the unknown is one thing, but to do it upon this tiny vessel (there I go again) is unbelievable

Three reasons to visit the Nina (from a crew member):
  1. To see a near perfect example of a type of sailing ship-the caravel- of such clean, sculptured, honest design that it was produced for upwards of 125 years. with its Scandinavian style bow and midsection and its combination square and lateen rigging it was probably the best open water sailing vessel of its time- that pivotal time referred to as the ' Great Age of Discovery'.
  2. In some small way to enter that age, to perhaps get a feeling for Columbus himself, that enigmatic and flawed human being, who, admire or despise him, is one of perhaps only three individuals in all of our long past who, by themselves, for good or ill, personally altered the course of Western history.
  3. To stand on the sloping deck of the Nina, as true a replica as will probably ever be built. It was Columbus' favorite ship, the one he very nearly died on in 1493, upon which he ultimately logged more than 25,000 miles.

Sad to say, the Muskogee visit is the last port to be visited. When it leaves, it will go to the Grand Caymans to start conducting 'day cruises'.

After visiting the Nina, we also went to view the USS Batfish, a decommissioned US Naval Submarine housed in Muskogee (over 300' in length, to compare/contrast the differences). That visit can wait for another blog report!

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