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Monday, October 25, 2010


Unfortunately, all shipmates must end their tour of duty. Thus we are loosing our "cookie", Constance. Constance joined the Nina in Davenport, Iowa for a two month tour. It is my understanding that "Cookie" gained control of the galley immediately. One must remember, our galley is a spacious 4 x 8 ft., that is 32 square feet with a head clearance of 5 ft. at most. Constance has provisioned the ship with food supply every week, including all requested specials and menu requests.

Our daily routine begins at 6:30 am. with the brewing coffee always prepared by Constance. Her shipmates stagger awake to fresh coffee, ever changing breakfast and a warm "Good Morning!" by our Constance. All this accomplished in a 4 x 8 ft. space in a ship which has logged over 300,000 miles and built in the same dimensions and similar materials as the original Nina. While we attempt to present the Columbus ship as original as possible to the public, we would not enjoy hard tack biscuits soaked in contaminated water for a meal. Our menu of fried egg sandwiches, steak and eggs, hot oats, apple cider, orange juice, chipped beef on a shingle, hash, and other favorites suits our taste. We are then ready to scrub the deck, hose the ship, raise our flags, bring all lines taught, and prepare for the 1,500 visitors each day .

Many days Constance prepares a lunch which she is not required to prepare. Each evening meal is a treat. We rarely eat out and many evenings the two ships, Nina and Pinta, share a crew meal. This evening we will be treated to a crayfish and shrimp boil with all the sides. Each evening our meal is ready at 6:30 typically below deck on the Nina. A hungry crew of 5 sailors can consume large quantities in short order. We do share the dish duty in order to spare Constance additional labors. We do insist she has a reward of her favorite wine or other adult beverage.

Our Constance departs the Nina tomorrow and returns to her Minnesota. She has plans to store her sailboat, help others and return to the Nina in March after dry dock repairs. Our crew may reunion before the sail across the Gulf of Mexico in Spring of 2011. I imagine Constance will be our "Cookie" as well as our shipmate. Our Constance will be missed.

Happy sailing Cookie,

Friday, October 22, 2010

Chattanooga Hospitality

It is a long standing maritime tradition to announce your port arrival by cannon fire. Upon our arrival near the dock we fired the Nina and Pinta Cannons. The cannon will fire a 3 lb. ball over 1 mile. However, due to safety considerations and pollution, we fire hot dog and hamburger buns. This feeds ducks and fish but permits that loud cannon explosion and smoke.

After docking in Chattanooga for a week, I feel it is appropriate to report on the hospitality of this City. As previously reported, we were greeted by the Explorer with a 21st. century escort to the docks. It seems each day brings another welcome by the citizens and business of this community.

We were "boarded" today by pirates. During our tours we were surprised by armed pirates and wenches. As pictured above, they were rather friendly pirates. They arrived with a professional photographer and light crew. I really do not know the reason except it seems they were having great fun with the idea. They entertained our guests as well as prompted many photos by our crew.

The waterfront is centered around the Tennessee Aquarium with several blocks of new piers, docks and parks. We enjoy each day the grass cardboard slides at our dock by many children in the area. It is refreshing to see children at play with such a simple slide. The many school children we receive each day can be a bit of work. However, they are interested and do know some of the Columbus history. We have scavenger hunts for the children. Such as; finding the 4 anchors on the ships, locating the 5 masts and 3 compass. This offers the opportunity to explore the ship while searching for the items.

The community has responded to our daily needs. For example, we do not have showers aboard the ship. However, the YMCA permits us to use their facilities each day if needed. This is a great relief to my crew. The Explorer Ship has invited the crew for cruises on the 21st. century ship on two occasions. Last evening Captain Mike Card invited us aboard the Southern Bell paddle wheel for a diner cruise. The Tennessee Aquarium has permitted us to tour at no charge. If you have not seen the aquarium, do yourself a favor and visit soon.

The downtown area of Chattanooga is wonderful. Many restaurants, art museums and over 12 miles of walk and bike trails are featured in the area. Most impressive is the pedestrian bridge over the Tennessee River. The bridge is over 100 years old and was refurbished from a rail to a pedestrian bridge to provide safe and scenic access to the north side of the river. An easy stroll to the north side offers entertainment, restaurants and parks.

I want to thank several visitors to our ship for mentioning my articles and blog. It seems information is traveling fast about my adventure aboard the Nina. I hope to express my joy with the experience aboard this wonderful ship and her crew. Sitting on the caprail late in the evening and listing to the music of the gently rolling ship, time falls away and my Nina reveals her lovely soul.

Happy sailing,

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chattanooga Port

We arrived in Chattanooga, TN to a good crowd at the dock. Firing the cannons is a typical event when entering harbor. The following site is a photo of the arrival escorted by the River George Explorer Boat as part of the Tennessee Aquarium. The 15Th century escorted by the 21st. century. We were cruising at 5 knots and the hydrofoil spun a 360 degree along side. Show off!

A warm crowd welcomed us at docks and good press coverage. Nina and Pinta are docked side by side with huge crowds. Saturday saw over 1,200 visitors and Sunday near the same. My favorite visitor Sunday was a 95 year old sailor. We continue to compile our most unusual questions. One of the new questions was, "How did you get the ships here"? We have a number of answers to this questions. The crew favorite is "we flew them here by helicopter". We really get some odd looks on this one.
In Guntersville, AL the average was about 1,500 per day or a total of 12,000 visitors in port. All seem to be amazed at the small size of the Nina and that she is a working ship. I continue to be rewarded waking up each day in history. To be sailing along with Nina and the wonders expressed by our visitors could be a once in a lifetime experience. Each community rewards us with special meals, and even offered homes for showers and laundry.
A crisis is approaching! Our "cookie" Constance is leaving Nina in about a week. As she spoils us with great food, not permitting us to wash dishes and counsels all during the working aboard in close quarters. However, we do have plans. We have fashioned very comfortable "shackles" for her in the galley. The chain will permit access to galley, bunk and head. We will let her on deck only while underway to our next location. With this extreme measure we will be assured of the continuation of our great food and professional counseling. We will not alert the Coast Guard.
I continue to look forward to another day about our Nina. Fair sailing,

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Daily Life Aboard the Nina

Daily life aboard our ship the Nina is anything but routine. My day begins about 6 am with the coffee pot and quick trip above deck. If we are very lucky, "cookie" has planed breakfast for the hungry crew.

Due to the crew quarters being 12 ft x 15 ft. for 6 sailors, a quiet beginning to the morning is impossible. Sneaking out of the bunk,trying to dress and start coffee usually results in hitting your my on a beam. I do not always remember that our galley has a head clearance of about 5 ft. and hard timbers are not forgiving.

After a breakfast of steak and eggs, it is time to swab the deck, literally. We hose the deck and ship daily in order for the wooden ship to swell with the water and close cracks in the planking. This is necessary in any wooden ship to prevent leaking. We raise the four flags of the Columbus fleet, swab the deck and prepare for the daily tours.

A typical week day begins with 2-300 children from surrounding schools of any age. We tour the ship with groups of about 20 per guide. The Nina is the most historical of the ships but also the smallest. Columbus loved the Nina and purchased her after his first voyage. She is a sweet ship. After the group tours we quickly grab a lunch and begin the daily visits from people in the area. It does amaze me people will drive 1-3 hours to view of Nina. Today a small family group allowed me to present the Nina and they were a joy. Later, they returned with my lunch from their family picnic. We have had visitors take crew members out for dinner or home. The Nina brings us all together.

Visitors absorb the history about the Nina and Columbus. I have learned so much being aboard the Nina. I tilled the ship from Huntsville and was amazed at the response of the bow. We guide the ship with a tiller and 7 ft. rudder. The ship responses immediate to the tiller. The gentle rock starboard to port and the soul of the ship is felt. Columbus tilled the Nina 25,000 miles and our Nina has sailed over 300,000 miles. The years are sailing off this old sailor.

The evening is consumed with meal preparation, particularly if Cookie has been away from the ship. Last evening we had cheese and meat ravioli, steamed vegetables and fresh fruit. Cookie often prepares hot cider to calm the sailors. However, the evening grog is poured and the crew sails into calm seas. Each evening I sit along the cap rail watching the shipping lanes and the fog roll into the harbor. The air cools over the water and the crescent moon rises above the mountain.

Life aboard the Nina is not our everyday reality. I have a glimpse of the sailors life aboard Nina, without the hardships the young sailors experienced. My daily needs are met, work is easily accomplished and sailing away without cares. The morning brings anew the ship routine until the fine day we sail to our new port.

Sail Away,

Saturday, October 2, 2010


LET THE ADVENTURE BEGIN! Sunday midday my adventure aboard the Nina began. My wonderful wife, Denise, scooted me right aboard. I said my goodbye's to my girls, Denise, Bailey and Bella. The entry to the Nina was made easier by the friendly crew who invited us aboard Friday evening to get familiar with crew quarters.

The Nina is the most accurate of the replicas. She is 65 ft. length, 18 ft. beam and carries about 1,900 sf. of sail. She has a small diesel motor for river and harbor navigation.

We sailed the up river to Guntersville, Al. A beautiful sail with a wonderful crew. The Pinta sailed to our stern. We locked up 7 miles down river from Guntersville. The cannon shot signaled our arrive and is a wonderful back drop to the 1500's with Columbus. Vehicles lined the bridge and many locals met our ships. I managed to till the Nina for several miles. My ship mates are either foolish or confident in this old sailor. It is amazing how responsive the Nina is to the tiller.

My crew mates are a varied lot. Our cook, "chef" Constance is a gem. She has been aboard 2 months and has not duplicated a meal as yet. If I do not gain weight it will be my fault. Constance spoils all the crew and we cannot understand how she sleeps in such a crowded bunk with all her cloths, etc.

Andrew is a loose cannon but such a hoot! Andrew is from Mitchell, IN and as he said, nothing but corn. Andrew is a good sailor with moves of a monkey along the rigging and a mouth of a sailor. He has been kind to this old sailor, teaching me the lines, rails, kegs, and other strange terms. An education I am receiving. Also, an education in the life of a 21 yr. old. Life is good.
Blake is the ladies man sailor. His motto is "Catch and Release" for the ladies. A Wisconsin native who has traveled coast to coast with the experience of a 40 yr. old. He constantly tells us he sacrifices much for the "Goddess" of Nina. I think he closes his eyes to my mistakes and continues to be patient with the old Sailor. He indicated he is the best looking fellow on the ship, however, we have not had that experience thus far on the cruise. He is optimistic.
Vic is the First Mate and has been aboard for over 2 years. His sailing experience is legend and has become a mentor to many volunteer sailors. While he will not endure slacking, he does offer the opportunity to all.
Our Captain is Morgan Sanger from the British Virgin Islands. Morgan was involved in the building of the Nina and Pinta in Brazil. The owner of a shipyard, experienced seaman and grand fellow. His son Steve is Captain of the Penta, following the faster Nina each day.
My experience has been grand thus far. We sail from Guntersville in one week for Chatanooga, TN. I anticipate dropping the sails along the way with the wind to my back and the sun over my shoulder. Sail away.