Two Columbus replica ships return to Biloxi

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - You can step back in time at the Biloxi Schooner Pier. That's because two replicas of the ships which Christopher Columbus sailed are making a return visit.

A Biloxi schooner took a trip Wednesday afternoon to welcome the visitors.

With only a slight afternoon breeze, rather than sailing, the Glen L. Swetman swiftly motored toward the rendezvous point. Captain Ron pointed the schooner toward the eastern end of Deer Island. Visitors scanning the southeast horizon, soon got their first glimpse of the Nina and Pinta.

"We got invited, so we decided to come," said ten-year-old Wallace Boudreux.

He and his dad had a perfect spot on the bow as the replica ships drew closer.  These wooden vessels impressed the St. Alphonsus fourth grader.

"How they looked like really big ships. It's really awesome," said the youngster.

His dad welcomed the opportunity to share a bit of maritime history with his son.

"It seemed like a good history lesson. A good hands on thing for Wallace. He's always been fascinated. We're from Biloxi. I wanted him to stay in touch with the seafood industry and just boating," said the father.

The schooner captain says it's hard to believe such vessels ventured across the Atlantic in 1492.

"The thing that always impresses me about them is they're really not as big as everybody thinks they are. It's about the size of this, except they're a lot higher out of the water," said Captain Ron Reiter.

The Nina was built by hand and is considered the most historically accurate Columbus replica ever built.

"Invite the people to come out and see something built with hand tools. It would probably take today's carpenter no telling how long to build one of these boats," said Rusty David of Biloxi.

The Nina and the Pinta will be open for tours through December 29th at the Biloxi Schooner Pier. The public is encouraged to take a closer look and learn.

"It's a fantastic sight to see. It's a step back in history. Without these boats, America wouldn't be here," said David.

The two ships will be open daily from 9am until 5pm for self-guided tours.  Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children.

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