WILMINGTON — The Santa Maria has returned to the U.S. — well, at least a replica of the original ship used by Christopher Columbus back in 1492.
The ship, sailed by a crew from the Nao Victoria Foundation in Spain to commemorate La Santa María’s voyage nearly 530 years ago, entered the mouth of the Cape Fear River on Wednesday evening before reaching the Wilmington Harbor just after 10 p.m. Its arrival is the last leg of a journey that began in Spain last year.
After completing the ship’s construction in March 2018, the crew later set off for the New World, hitting Puerto Rico in December. Because the ship uses four square sails that can only push the ship forward using tailwind, it also employs a pair of engines for its journey.
Angel Rosa, the ship’s head of logistics, was on deck Thursday morning preparing for the ship’s first guests to arrive at 10 a.m. (information on ticket information and deck tour schedules are found below).
“I always heard in school that these guys came to America in a nutshell,” Rosa said. “And I can tell you that this is like a nutshell, yes.”
After stops at Ft. Myers Beach in Florida, Brunswick in Georgia, and Beaufort in South Carolina, the ship turned back south to St. Augustine. It made the journey from St. Augustine to Wilmington in a day.
View pictures of the Santa Maria below:
“St. Augustine was our last port of call,” Rosa said. “Now, finally, we are here in Wilmington.”
Rosa hopes for the same success the foundation’s El Galeon ship found in Wilmington on visits in 2016 and 2017. Those visits, Rosa said, revealed a city steeped in its own history and with residents who appreciate things like the Santa Maria.
The Nao Victoria Foundation partnered with the Wilmington Harbor Enhancement Trust (WHET) for those first visits, and Rosa said it was the relationship between the two that brought the Santa Maria to Wilmington (WHET is helping the ship organize deck tours).
Santa Maria will be docked at the Port City Marina for 10 days before heading north to Yorktown, Virginia then down the Saint Lawrence River for a summer in the Great Lakes region.
Schedule and ticket information
- What: A replica of the Santa María used by Christopher Columbus in 1492
- Where: Port City Marina (10 Harnett St.)
- Schedule: From Thursday, May 9 — Sunday, May 19
- Deck Tours: Open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Ticket Info: $10 (adults); $5 (kids aged 5-10); $25 (family package: 2 adults and 3 kids aged 5-10); free for kids under five