Friday, July 1, 2011

Nel 1492, Colombo salpò l'oceano blu

If you don't speak Italian (and I don't), the above phrase says "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." I learned that in grade school and I'm sure most of you did as well.

Columbus, Ohio is the largest city in the United States bearing the name of Christopher Columbus. Growing up in my era, we learned from our history books about Columbus and thought of him as a hero. Now, of course, we know that he and his men weren't very ethical in their treatment of island natives. Nevertheless, cities that chose him as a namesake have not changed their names in protest. Columbus, Ohio even has, docked riverside on the Scioto River in Batelle Riverfront Park, the world's most authentic, museum-quality replica of Columbus' flagship, the Santa Maria. It was built in 1991 by Scarano Boatbuilding Inc. of Albany, New York, to commemorate the 500-year anniversary of Columbus' voyage.

On the same day as the visit to the Deaf School Topiary Park, the grandkids and I paid a visit to the famous replica. This was also a surprise for them...they didn't know it existed. They were so excited and listened intently to every word.

The overall length of the Santa Maria is 98 feet. Its height from the keel to the top of the main mast is 89 feet. The hull planking consists of 44,000 board feet of Port Orford (Oregon) cedar. The deck planking and spars were built with 22,000 board feet of Douglas fir. The frames used 24,000 board feet of Alaskan yellow cedar. There are 2,700 feet of sails. Four thousand linear feet of line make up the rigging. Fifty-five gallons of tar was used to preserve the fixed rigging. It weighs 130 tons, including the ballast.

The main mast is 65-feet tall and is carved from a single Douglas fir. It carries the mainsail and the topsail. After construction, the ship was cut in half through the entire length and carried on two trucks. It was delivered to the opposite side of the Scioto River, where it was reassembled. The farthest it has ever sailed was across the river to its permanent mooring.
Rolled up pallets in steerage
I wasn't listening.

String of pearls

When the men on board needed to take care of any business that required squatting, they climbed over the side of the ship, held onto these ropes, and when they were finished, they....

...pulled up this handy tool, which was kept on a thin rope and was below the water. Its name is "the bitter end". And now you know where that phrase originated. Yeah. There was only one. Salt water is very cleansing and a good disinfectant. I'm glad I live in the 21st century.

All in all, it was a great day with beautiful weather. We all learned and we all had a good time.


Anonymous said...

Hard to imagine any ship like that sailing as far as it did. What a crazy endeavor!


Susan said...

Di, can you imagine the guts it took to set off like that and all you had to guide you was Marco Polo's maps that were made 200 years before????

ds said...

I remember boarding a similar ship at Mystic CT as a kid & marvelling at how tiny it was (this was made some 300 years after Columbus', mind). A thoroughly interesting and informative post, my friend.
I read it to (yes, I must)...

...the bitter end. ;)

Have a wonderful holiday!!

Wanda..... said...

Oh my gosh...what I just learned...the bitter end.

CottageGirl said...

Amazing! The craftsmanship that went into the original as well as the replica is mind boggling!

You're grandkids are so lucky to have you!

Hugs to you my girl.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Granny field trips are awesome! And that is one cool ship. Hard to imagine living on one of those things for such a long time. Where are the outlets for my hairdryer?

The Bumbles said...

Kids love old ships don't they? When we went to Old Ironsides a few years ago I thought the young kids on the tour with us might get bored listening to grownups talk about ropes and riggings. Nope. They were all totally enthralled. I got distracted taking photos - leading to me not listening either to some parts like you ;0)

Oliag said...

Looks like you had lots of fun with the grandchildren!

Did you know there is a very well known, fancy yacht club in the Virgin Islands called the Bitter End?

Susan said...

LOL ds!! I knew someone would have to say it! That part always gets lots of comments, groans and titters of laughter on the tour. There is one country (I can't recall which one) where it is considered an insult if one offers the right hand for a handshake, because the right hand is used for the same purpose as "the bitter end". Oy vey! I don't know which would be worse! Bleh!

Happy Independence Day to you!

Susan said...

Wanda, I hope that wasn't the only thing you learned from this post! LOL

Susan said...

CG, an amazing amount of craftsmanship, for sure! What's truly amazing is the fact that it made it all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. Of course, it never had a chance to return to Spain after running aground on what is now the island of Haiti. I could have filled two posts with the interesting tidbits offered on the tour, but I would have had to carry a tape recorder to remember them!

Thank you. Your grandkids are pretty darned lucky, too!


p.s. I loved your newly refurbished floor!

Susan said...

Sandy, your hair would be quite a mess after five weeks on the high seas with all that salt-water spray and the lack of fresh water to wash it! I would be more worried about the hard-tack biscuits that I had to eat. Yum.

Susan said...

Molly, you notice I didn't explain what a "string of pearls" is either. I researched it afterwards, but never could come up with a reasonable definition related to sailing ships. It makes a purty picture though, doesn't it? All I recall the guide saying about the rope picture was that it was all knots tied by the sailors. Duh. She took questions at the end, but she did it in the captain's quarters that was jam-packed with people and hotter than hades, so I had to step out after about a minute. Next time I'll take notes, since I already have the pictures. :)

Susan said...

Well, Oliag, you know that if I ever get to the Virgin Islands, I will have to have a few drinks at that bar! LOL

Deborah said...

I appreciated all those statistics, none of which I have retained except the mast being made of a single Douglas fir. (It would be kind pointless to glue two together, I'm thinking)

But the part that made me snort out loud was the caption 'I wasn't listening'.

This is why I love you.

Susan said...

Deb, yeah, I copied them out of the brochure they handed us. When she was talking about the knotty rope thing, all I heard was something something something "knots tied by the sailors on board." Wahwahwah, wah wah.

I find it interesting the things you love about me. ROFL!! :~

Anonymous said...

What a great activity. I waas there many years ago and probably wasn't really listening and now I;m sorry that missed the whole description of how the sailors relieved themselves. Your discription with the picture does give me an idea of the grossness.

Susan said...

Stacy, when your little Gage is old enough, you make a return visit...I'm sure they will still be telling the same stories! Honestly, on my first visit 10 years ago, I don't remember them telling that one!

Ruth said...



I bet boys of a certain age like this kind of toilet information.

I love touring boats, especially replicas of famous ones. Imagining life in those confined spaces is pretty amazing, and I also feel claustrophobic. We toured one in Ireland that was very cool.

I think I've suggested you read Moberg's four book series about immigrants from Sweden before. I can't remember if you read them or not. One whole book is at sea. YIKES. It had a lasting impact on me, envisioning all the sea voyages over millennia!

Wonderful to see you and your grands exploring your environs in such comfort. ;)

Anonymous said...

My favorite part was "the bitter end". I'll be passing that little tidbit along to everyone I know. :)

Susan said...

Ruthie, don't you know the boys loved it!! All of them! The girls were icked out, of course.

The only boat I never enjoyed touring was a submarine in Mobile Bay, Alabama. That was a little too close quarters for about claustrophobic! I even felt a little claustrophobic in our cabin when we took the Alaska cruise, and it was SPACIOUS compared to this ship. In fact, I think our cabin was nearly as large as the entire Santa Maria. :)

Someday I'll get around to reading the Moberg books, I promise.

Susan said...

Bella, that was definitely the highlight of the Santa Maria! LOL