Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Last week I took the kids down to see Central Ohio's very own built-to-scale replica of Christopher Columbus' ship, the Santa Maria.  It was built in 1991 to prepare for the celebration in 1992 of the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage.  I purchased tickets on Groupon last spring thinking it would be a great educational field trip to take the kids on this summer.  Then August 1st came and I went into panic mode remembering all the cool things I wanted to do with the kids that we just hadn't gotten around to yet.  So off we set, on our own little trip!
The Santa Maria replica is docked in downtown Columbus.
It was really fun!  I learned some little facts that I hadn't before and even five year old Owen seemed interested in most of what was shared with us on our tour of the ship.  It's truly a wonder that any of the men survived their voyage.  The conditions were appalling.  The food storage was horrible.  And the bathroom conditions...well, I'll save that for later.  Trust me, it's worth the wait!

So we board the ship/boat and we are given a little lesson on where different things were stored, who did what, where all they went...by the way, Columbus wasn't really the one who discovered America.  He's just the one who got all the credit.
Our tour guide had a great sense of humor and
involved the children.

As you know from your elementary school education, there were 3 ships - the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.  The Santa Maria was the largest of the three and truly, it was not that large considering 90 some men were on the 3 ships collectively.  Talk about close quarters!  Columbus rented the 3 ships from a man who owned them and he accompanied the sailors on their voyage.  
 This crude display shows the size
comparison of the 3 ships.

The sleeping conditions were anything but.  Christopher Columbus was the only one who had an actual bed.  Furthermore, he was the only one who had a bedroom! All of the others slept under the stars on the ships main deck, and here's what their "beds" looked like.  Imagine what they smelled like!
Christopher Columbus' bed in the captains quarters.  The rest of the
crew had only mattresses that looked like this and they slept on the
floor...where the rats were.

The kids got to take turns with the capstan, which was an upright winch.  Back in the day, it took four to eight crew members to haul the anchor out of the water or load cargo.  My 3 children plus two others that were in our group had no trouble at all.  Of course, there was no anchor or cargo attached.

A tiller was used to steer the ship.  The crew operating the steerage (24 hours a day, mind you) couldn't see to steer so he had to rely on crew in the crow's nest to tell him where to go.  He could also watch the ship's wake behind him to see if he was steering the ship in a straight line.  Talk about relying on your co-workers to help you out!
The tiller was handled by one man in calm seas, but more were
needed if the water was rough.

Looking up at what we call the "Crow's Nest." 
They called it something else back then, but it's not in the brochure and I
can't remember.  So we'll just call it the Crow's Nest!

And now, this final little bit of crucial, historical information that I have made you wait so long to learn about.  With regard to the tender issue of using the facilities, relieving ones' self, going to the bathroom...whatever you call it.  Our guide explained to us that whenever a crew member needed to go to the bathroom, there was a ledge on the side of the ship that the sailor would climb out onto.  And that's where he'd do his business.  But the story doesn't end there.  Oh know, there had to be more.  And why they feel it necessary to include this in the tour, I have no idea.  But they did, and as my husband likes to point out, I am not one to leave out details when I tell a story.  So, here goes. 

In the event that a sailor has a full course of bathroom business while he's out on the ledge, there is an obvious need for some supplies.  Charmin wasn't available so the sailors had to improvise.  They developed a little "tool" called, and I'm not kidding here, THE BITTER END.  You know what it's for, you know how it's used, you can imagine how it felt, now take a look...

To "clean" the bitter end, the sailors merely allowed the implement
to hang down a rope and drag in the ocean water until its next use.  Gross!

Here's my own crew after our tour!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment on my blog! I enjoy hearing from my readers!