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Nina and Pinta sail into Huntington marina

Nov. 13, 2012 @ 11:10 PM

HUNTINGTON -- "You don't see that coming down the river every day," Drew Fowler said Tuesday, as he and his grandmother, Betty Hollis, stood at Harris Riverfront Park and peered at the Ohio. "That's not like the barges we usually see."

As they watched, life-size replicas of two of Christopher Columbus' ships -- the Nina and the Pinta -- sailed into the marina at Harris Riverfront Park, where they will be docked at the Yacht Club until Tuesday, Nov. 20.

The ships will be open to the general public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, beginning Wednesday, Nov. 14. Guests can stop by for self-guided tours, or groups of 15 or more can call ahead for guided tours of the two boats, which sail throughout the nation's waterways to bring history to life.

The Nina was built by hand without the use of power tools and is considered to be the most historically correct Columbus replica ever built, according to a press release. The Pinta was recently built in Brazil and is a larger version of the original vessel. There is no replica of the Santa Maria because it didn't turn out to be a very good ship for Columbus, said Senior Captain Morgan Sanger of Nina and Pinta touring ships.

There are a lot of historical facts from school that slip from memory, but the names of Columbus' ships are not among them, 81-year-old Hollis said.

"I remember studying about that in school," the Huntington resident said. "There are certain things that stick in your mind ..."

Joan Etheridge of Huntington and friend Rose Davis of Amboy, Ill., headed down to the riverfront Tuesday to watch the ships sail in. Cannons were fired upon the ships' arrival at 2 p.m., which was exactly on schedule. The boats sailed in from Charleston and next week sail on to Maysville, Ky.

The ships usually makes their way down the Ohio every few years, Sanger said.

Etheridge said she came down to tour the ships once before and said it was a memorable experience.

"It's history," she said.

No reservation is necessary to visit these maritime museums. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for students age 5 to 16. Kids age 4 and younger are free.

Teachers and other groups of 15 or more can sign up for a 30-minute guided tour with a crew member. To sign up, call 787-672-2152 and leave a message. Cost for these tours is $5 per person.

To learn more, visit www.thenina.com or email columfnd@surfbvi.com.