The ‘Santa Clara II’ or ‘Nina’ as she is commonly known safely arrived in Grand Cayman at 10.30pm Tuesday.
Captain Sanger Morgan who brought the ship over from Aruba describes the vessel ‘as the most historically correct representation of a Christopher Columbus’ ship ever built.’
Captain Morgan said the voyage was bumpy but free of incidents.
Once the ship clears Customs at the George Town Harbour, it is expected to point the tiller in the direction of the North Sound (in an effort to maintain authenticity there is no steering wheel) and take the vessel into the Safehaven basin, where she will be based.
The ship took four years to construct and is finished in marble, granite and wood from Brazil. It features a few optional extras that Columbus’ band of mariners unfortunately had to go without; for instance below decks there is an 800 square foot air-conditioned main salon and upstairs there is cushioned seating.
The company that is operating the vessel plans to start offering trips in January.
‘We can fit 80-100 people on her comfortably and we are expecting to have cruise ship passengers on her in the day time and a sunset and dinner cruise in the evening.’
The ship has three masts; fore, main and lateen and while it does have an engine the crew plans to use the sails during the trips. Capt. Morgan explained they already have the necessary water taxi license and they intend for a liquor license in March. They also have to go through an inspection with the Cayman Islands Shipping registry next week, but they will ‘clear that hurdle without any trouble because it is well constructed and already has passed stringent inspections elsewhere.’
On 10 May, 1502, Columbus sighted the Sister Islands. By then he was on his fourth and final voyage. The Nina had already been sold as was not part of his fleet. The original Nina was used by Columbus on his first three voyages of discovery.