Southwest Florida has a chance to see near-perfect examples of the ships used by Christopher Columbus in his encounter with the New World in1492.  The Nina and Pinta are arrived at Fishermen's Village Yacht Basin in Punta Gorda on December 19 and will be on display through January 1, 2012. The vessels are operated by the Columbus Foundation located in the British Virgin Islands, and have been visiting ports throughout the east coast, our mid-western and eastern rivers, and the Gulf.  They traveled from Muskogee, Oklahoma, directly to Punta Gorda. Both vessels were constructed in Brazil by Portuguese shipwrights using only hand tools, and design and construction techniques dating back to the 15th century.  Archaeology Magazine has called the Nina the "most authentic replica Columbus era ship ever built."  So much so, the vessel was used in the production of the film 1492.  It has a deck length of 65 feet, a beam of 18 feet and draft of 7 feet.  She's 75 tons with a sail area of 1900 square feet.  The Pinta is the larger vessel, 85 feet long, 23 foot beam and a draft of 7.5 feet. Both vessels are touring together as a floating museum for the purpose of educating the public and particularly school children on the "caravel," a Portuguese ship used by Columbus and many early explorers to discover the new world. For history buffs wondering about the Santa Maria, it has not been included in the floating museum because the original ship never made it back to Spain, having run aground near Haiti and breaking apart. The ships opened for tours on Wednesday, December 20 and will continue offering tours through Friday, December 23, then again on Monday, December 26 through Friday, December 30, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. No reservations are necessary.  Admission charges are $8.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors and $6.00 for students 5 – 16.  Children four and under are free.  Group tours for clubs and schools can be arranged by calling (787) 672-2152 or email  For further information, call Fishermen's Village Yacht Basin at (941) 575-3000, and visit the Nina website at