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La-Nina - $$7.95

This caravel type ship was a favorite of Columbus, and might be a favorite of yours too. Richard Dery has now done all three for us: The Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria.

La Nina



beta build of La Nina paper model ship beta build of La Nina paper model ship
Christopher Columbus's La Nina Caravel Style Ship


Original Configuration

This model depicts what La Nina looked like when Columbus fell in love with it. It was a beautiful little 60 ton marvel that could swing back and forth through the inland waterways when exploration was required, and it could be square rigged when it came time to cross the ocean at a faster speed.


Caravela Latina: Because it lacked a forecastle, it was lighter and stronger than many other ships. Rigged with lateen (triangle) sails, it was highly manoeuvrable so it could sail much nearer the wind, saving a lot of time in tacking.


Caravela Redonda: When rigged like a carrack with a foresail, square mainsail and lateen mizzen, it relied more on having the wind go in the direction it wanted to go. This rigging allowed it to move more quickly on the ocean.

Nina sample of paper model
Sneak peek at the fine quality of this paper model



Nina and Pinta Replicas from 1893
Nina and Pinta Replicas from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition
(Note: This photo is in the public domain in the United States)



Huh? You can sail into the wind?

Windmill on a ship
Certainly, but you just can't sail directly into the wind unless you are more clever than the average bear.

Follow the Trade Winds

La Nina illustration
The winds in the Atlantic tend to blow West in the South (the westerlies), an to the East (the easterlies) further North.

Vicente Yáñez Pinzón

Painting of the captain of La Nina
Captain of La Nina, Vincente was the youngest of the three Pinzón brothers, who also were on the first expedition.


Stats and Specs

Little is known about the specifics of this vessel, but according to one of the few people who wrote about it, it was approximately "60 toneladas" (or 60 tons) which would make it about 50 feet long. It's not even certain if she had three masts or four, so historical accuracy is not much of an issue with this model.

  • Name - The Santa Clara (nicknamed "La Nina" )
  • Owner - Juan Niño of Moguer
  • Captain - Vicente Yáñez Pinzón (first expedition of Columbus)
  • Crew - 24 men (on first expedition)
  • Sleeping Quarters - The men slept on the deck of this ship until they discovered hammocks in the Americas


Captured by Pirates?

Yep. During an unauthorized charter voyage to Rome, Nina was captured by a pirate corsair on the way out of Cagliary. She was brought to a nearby port in Sardinia where the captain at the time, Alonso Medel, simply stole her back. He actually had to steal another boat and row out to the Nina with enough hands to sail it back again to Spain. She was last seen heading for the Pearl Coast, which indicates there still may have been pirates aboard her. She never again officially logged into any major port.



What People Say

Larry here. I just ordered Warren the Nina and He and I both LOVE it!! WOW!!! Richard does it again!!

For what ever it's worth, the aftermast on a 3 master is called....."the Mizzen" or Mizzen Mast. Richard is correct that the after most mast on a 4 master is called "The Jigger". Hope this helps.

Any chance of Richard putting out an aftermarket kit for the Nina so She can be built with her Ocean Crossing Square mast? Warren and I would both like that.

Jaqui sends Her Love to You and Yours and Warren and I send "Cheers"
YMPs, Larry and Warren

Dear Scott,

I was interested in your observations about Christopher Columbus in connection with the model of the Santa Maria.

I think your obvious dismay and condemnation are a little overwrought. No historian alibis any new exploration of any territory, including the English invasion of coastal Virginia. All explorers, and I include English, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and French brought European diseases to America, Asia and Africa. You are evidently horrified by Columbus' reaction to the annihilation of his outpost on Hispaniola; yet Muslim countries routinely cut off the hands of thieves in this "modern" world.

Columbus was a man of his time. No better, and, perhaps, no worse. He was not a saint, but, considering all our culture advances since then, it is extremely difficult to find one today.

I find no problem in acknowledging his faults and mistakes, but those do NOT diminish his exploration efforts.

Some balance of appreciation must be coupled to your sense of condemnation.

Jim Stagg
Newnan, GA

Thanks Jim,

I'm including your letter on our pages for these models because I very much want to show the view from all perspectives. I think balance is a good thing.

Some have claimed that the spread of disease, in some cases with some explorers, was intentional (as with the distribution of infected blankets) but I find it hard to see how or why anyone would document such a horror. I certainly haven't seen anything that proves this to be true, but I wouldn't doubt it too strongly either.

I also believe that slave trading was pretty common in those days, so that doesn't stand out prominently in my mind either. However, much of what I did learn about Chris C. was just too ugly to share. I didn't enjoy how I felt while writing about him, and conversely, didn't feel comfortable censuring myself, so I just cut it short with the hope that someone else might do a better job than I could.

I'm pretty sure that if I were to contrast and compare 15th century Spanish atrocities to modern day Muslim atrocities, I would mention the two nine year olds and two eleven year olds who were recently targeted from an Israeli gunboat while away running from a blast on the beach. The primary difference I can see is that Columbus was at least hauled into court for his atrocities. My opinion is that we have come a long way in the wrong direction.

It would be hard for me to make a proper comparison without examining the industrial politics, the military policies, and the financial powers involved in both scenarios, historically and currently. but it would be enlightening to anyone who would think to look into it.

I agree that some balance of appreciation should be coupled with my sense of condemnation, and I invite you to write (in your own words, if you wish to elaborate) on this topic, either briefly or at length if you choose. I can cite the Encyclopedia Britannica excerpt on the matter, but original writing is preferable in almost all cases.

With your permission, I'll include your letter on the next page, but consider yourself invited to write more about this, and thanks, wholeheartedly, for your response.

YMP, Scott



Other ships in the Columbus Expeditions: Santa Maria
La Pinta