St Marys highlights history with visit by Columbus ships
St. Marys is throwing it back to the 1500s and other centuries in the city’s history Saturday with a historical celebration that features several events.
The main attraction is the Nina and the Pinta, two ships built to replicate Christopher Columbus’ fleet that crossed the Atlantic to explore the new world. The Nina is the same size as Columbus’ ship at 65 feet long and 18 feet wide and was built by hand without power tools. The Nina is considered the most historically accurate replica of Columbus’ Nina and visited St. Marys once before in the 1990s, ship captain Stephen Sanger said.
The Pinta is built in the same style but larger than the Nina to accommodate more visitors, Sanger said.
“For the time, these were big ships,” Sanger said. “… We’re getting a little glimpse (of their journey). The good thing about today is that we know where we’re going.”
Both ships have diesel engines and sails but use a tiller to steer.
“This was really old school,” Sanger said. “… The ship is fully functional.”
Sailing up the intracoastal waterway from Vero Beach, Fla., the ships will arrive in St. Marys Thursday afternoon, dock at Lang’s Marina west and depart Tuesday. The ships will be open for self-guided tours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Monday. Admission for a walk-aboard self-guided tour is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors 60 and older and $6 for students 5 to 16 years old. Children ages 4 and younger are free.
Crew members who live and travel on the ships will be around and can talk about what life was like on a sailing ship in the 15th century. Groups of 15 people or more can schedule a 30-minute guided tour with a crew member for $5 per person by calling (787) 672-2152 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We bring them back to the 15th century and give them a glimpse of what life was like,” Sanger said.
There will be other free activities Saturday that highlight St. Marys’ history from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Howard Gilman Memorial Park on the waterfront. There will be living history presentations and exhibits by the Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution, family entertainment, kids’ games and tours of Oak Grove Cemetery.
Also on Saturday in downtown St. Marys, artists will be set up between Orange Hall and the park competing in the seventh annual St. Marys Plein Aire Paint Out. Registration begins at 8 a.m. at Olde Towne Gallery, 304 Osborne St. The entry fee is $15 per artist and $20 the day of the event. Painting ends at 4 p.m. with judging at 4:15 p.m. and awards at 5 p.m. at the St. Marys Presbyterian Church.
Cash prizes ranging from $300 to $100 will be awarded for first, second and third places and there will be four honorable mentions. For more information, call Evelyn at (912) 467-3019. The paint out is sponsored by the Coastal Camden Art League, National Park Service and Southeast Georgia Health System.