Nina, Pinta arrive on Bristol's shores

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Christopher Columbus — along with his crew — spent eight years aboard a 65-by-18-foot ship, crammed in among the food supplies and livestock the crew took with them, traversing back and forth across the open Atlantic Ocean.

That ship still voyages throughout the country — well, sort of — and is visiting Bristol this weekend along with sister ship, the Pinta.

An exact replica of the Nina — known to be Columbus' favorite ship, especially after the flagship Santa Maria sunk off the coast of Haiti — is visiting Bristol this weekend along with a replica of the Pinta, the third ship in Columbus' original armada in 1492 — though the Pinta replica is larger than the original. The Nina was built in Brazil according to exact specifications of the original, and was crafted using no power tools or even electricity in order to maintain its authenticity, according to Captain Stephen Sanger, who piloted the ships along with 14 crew members, to the Herreshoff Marine Museum Thursday morning.

The ships will welcome the public to experience what life aboard the vessels would have been like in 1492.

"We want to educate people on the caravel (a Portuguese style of ship favored by many sailors and explorers)," Captain Sanger said. "We talk about the ships today, where we travel, Columbus' voyages and what happened during the voyages."

While in port, the general public is invited to visit the ships for a walk-aboard, self-guided tour. Admission charges are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for students 5 to 16. Children 4 and under are free. The ships will be open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. No reservations necessary.

On Friday, June 6, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., a special event will benefit the Bristol Animal Shelter. Tickets for that event are $15 in advance for adults or $20 at the door; ages 6 to 13 are $10; and children 5 and under are free. Light refreshments will be served. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Bristol Animal Shelter, 10 Minturn Farm Road.

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