In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue...
I spent much of my spring planning field trips in order to break the cabin fever I was having after a record-breaking winter full of snow. It also seems that every field trip I planned rain was forecast for the day. We'd have a stretch of beautiful, warm, sunny weather, but the day of the trip...rain.
Thankfully each one seemed to go off without the rain spoiling anything. Yesterday we headed to Camden - a beautiful, albeit very touristy town, on the coast of Maine. The Columbus Foundation has two ships that they bring to various ports around the eastern seaboard as well as on various rivers as well. The ships are the Nina and the Pinta - both replicas of the ships Columbus sailed for his first voyage!
Why no Santa Maria? Apparently it wasn't the best seagoing vessel out there so it was not replicated like the other two. The Nina is an exact replica of the ship that Columbus sailed on. However, the Pinta is slightly larger than the original (which was actually the same size as the Nina) because they use it to take folks on day voyages.
We split up in to two groups (we had just over 40 people total on this trip - not counting kiddos under age 4). Our group started on the Nina and our tour guide was the First Mate. Yes, there is a crew for each ship and they live on the boat while it sails from port to port.
Our guide was very knowledgeable about each ship and also about the history behind them. He was engaging and was happy to answer all of the kids questions.
My two boys trying to get a glimpse in to the hold.
This was not a big ship. While our group was relatively small, we also didn't have exclusive access. The ships were still being visited by other folks. In fact, a few joined up and listened in on our tour (none are pictured though). I loved how our guide sat and just chatted with the kids here for quite some time about the amount of supplies, sleeping arrangements, length of voyage, crew members, etc. I think everyone found it quite interesting. I know I certainly did!
The Pinta was a much larger ship and, therefore, much easier to accommodate everyone. We started up on the high deck and here our guide shared the difference between the two ships. Just as he finished up and told us to go explore on our own, it began to rain heavily but soon stopped. It was perfect timing though!
The deck of the Pinta
The ships were steered by rudders attached to long poles - not those nice steering wheels you see in the movies! At least not for quite some time. We also learned that on the voyage over, the men slept on the deck - unless they were officers and sometimes they did as well! When the ships reached Central America, they saw the natives sleeping in hammocks and thought that a novel idea to try. They did so using their fishing nets and whatever else they could find that they could string up. It worked so well that they brought the idea back to the British Naval Fleet.
My oldest (with his hood up), trying to stop the two younger boys (my youngest in orange and a friend) from moving the long arm that controls the rudder. He succeeded too.
A view of the Nina from inside the Pinta.
Our tour was about an hour long. At the end it was lunchtime or at least it was according to my very hungry children! We decided to head to the top of Mount Battie to explore a bit. My boys and I had never been and it would give the kids a chance to stretch their legs before the two hour ride home.
If you look really close where the harbor comes all the way in, you can see the tops of the Nina & Pinta. There were binoculars at the top and all the kids had a good time using them to see everything down below.
I should point out that Mount Battie is located in Camden Hills State Park. I should also note that there is an auto road so we drove to the top! I wanted the kids to stretch their legs, but the weather folks were called for thunderstorms so I thought driving a bit more prudent.
There is a stone tower at the top of the mountain that you can go up and have an even better view! I climbed up with the little guy below. The stones really afforded themselves for a great photo ops as well and a number of us took advantage of that.
Mr. T - almost 2 years old.
I babysit him so he goes with us everywhere.
The best I could get because this...
We really did have a great time. I just wish the weather had been a bit better, but overall it didn't pour while we were there so for that - I'm thankful!