By Ken Mink
Americans interested in the history of their country are now being given an opportunity for a first-hand closeup look at two of the ships that helped shape the nation.
When explorer Christopher Columbus put together crews for three ships which sailed the Atlantic in 1492, reaching the Americas, it opened the door for the development of what later became the United States of America.
Now, the Columbus Foundation of the British Virgin Islands has created almost exact replicas of two of those ships – the Nina and the Pinta.
For the last several years those two ships have been sailing the rivers and oceans all around America, giving millions a chance to see for themselves what life was like on those two vessels hundreds of years ago.
The ships are now docked at the Fort Loudon Marina at Lenoir City, Tn., adjacent to Calhoun’s Restaurant, and will be there through Sunday. An estimated 1,000 people have visited the ships through Sept. 8.
The tour will move to Knoxville next week, docking on the Tennessee River next to Calhoun’s Restaurant Sept. 17-29. The 2019 tour will end next month at Chattanooga Oct. 4-27 and Rogersville, Al., Oct. 30-Nov. 3. The 2020 tour will begin in February.
Admission is $8.50 for adults ($7.50 for seniors over 60, $6.50 for students and free for children 4 and under). Hours are 9-6. For group info call (787) 672-2152.
The ships have deck hands to provide answers and info for visitors.
One deck hand said, “We sleep on the decks for the most part and we run the ship with 4-5 workers. We use two boat motors to maneuver the ships in docking and travelling on rivers, We bring out the sails when we are on oceans. We travel about 13 knots (13 miles per hour) on open water. Our toughest job is furling and unfurling the sails.”
He said crew members sign up for one-year contracts and are paid about $200 per day,
(Ken Mink is a journalist and author from Maryville, Tn, He is the author of 25 books and writes for three online publications – The Travelling Adventurer (www.travellingadventurer.com), Always Traveller (www.AllWaysTraveller.com) and The Golf Travel Writers of America (www.GTWA.com)