Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dry-docked dreams

I was in Corpus Christi last summer when my family visited the crumbling Columbus ships. I learned they were soon to be scrapped and sensed a story, which finally appeared this month in Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine.

Here's how it begins:

As a child, Louie Cortinas researched Christopher Columbus’ journey from Spain to the New World and constructed a model of the Pinta, one of the adventurer’s three famous ships. He dreamed of sailing on those ships, as children often do.

In 1992, when Cortinas was 23, full-size replicas of the NiƱa, Pinta and Santa Maria arrived in Texas as part of a U.S. tour honoring the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage. He yearned to be a sailor on one of the ships, but his volunteer application was rejected. Disap­pointed but still fascinated, the young man could only watch as los tres barcos (the three boats) sailed up to Corpus Christi. “I went on a tour, and they were brand-spanking new,” Cortinas recalls.

One day last winter, Cortinas, now a professional diver, took another guided tour of the Pinta, resting beside the Santa Maria on a concrete slab behind the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History.

“All of this was varnished and shiny,” he says. “It’s changed so much. It’s heartbreaking to see.”

Tourists probably won’t be able to view the two replicas for long. No exact date has been set, but the two ships are expected to be removed from the museum, their remains carted away as junk.

Read the rest here.

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