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Saturday, October 2, 2010

BOARDING THE NINA'




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.

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