Yesterday we went on a field trip to see historically accurate replicas of two of Columbus' ships, the Nina and the Pinta. Both ships are "floating museums," built to scale and here in Pittsburgh for just a few days before they move on to other stops on their 2012 tour.
Last year the kids studied a bit about Columbus' historical voyage as part of their Classical Conversations memory work. The very first History fact they ever memorized was "In 1492, Columbus made the first of four trips to the Caribbean on three Spanish ships named the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria." We couldn't pass up the chance to see two of them built as they actually were when Columbus and his crew set out for the New World.
Twenty-seven men made up the crew of the Pinta, and they must have been mighty cozy on that ship back in the 15th century. It's amazing to see what people went through and risked in pursuit of knowledge of the world years ago. They lived, ate, and slept on the deck you see us standing on the picture above. "What if it rained?" I asked. The tour guide said they most likely loved it when it rained, because it was their brief chance for fresh water and a shower.
What I thought was a life boat was actually the "ship's boat," the boat they used to get from the ship to the shore when they finally saw land. Interestingly, our tour guide said that there wasn't even a word in 15th century Spanish vocabulary for "swimming." For as much time as many Spaniards spent on the water, they did not know how to swim. If their ship went down, they were expected to go down with it.
No one was allowed to sleep or hang out in the hold back in Columbus' day - that was the place where they stored their food, survival necessities, and animals that they would use to populate the new lands they discovered.
The boys all took a turn trying to pull the windlass down. It wasn't easy!
History is interesting - and fun! - especially when you get to experience it hands-on with your best pals. Columbus Day is going to be a lot more exciting in our classroom this year now that we're armed with the knowledge of what Columbus risked and experienced more than five hundred years ago.