Posted: Oct 10, 2012 9:34 PM by Melissa Schroeder - email@example.com
Updated: Oct 12, 2012 2:34 PM
CORPUS CHRISTI -- One of the three Columbus replica ships -- on display in Corpus Christi -- is restored and ready for public tours.
But, it was no easy task getting to that point.
The history behind the ships plays out like a movie.
There's drama, disaster and it all revolves around money.
Rick Stryker, with the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, said, "It was a bad decision because it didn't work."
Sailing officials tell us a private, non-profit organization initially paid Spain $1 million dollars for the ships in 1994.
The same organization was also supposed to pay for the area at the History and Science Museum used to repair and display the ships.
That costs around $4 million.
But the organization's members said they couldn't keep up the payments after about two years.
So, they backed out.
The city then received ownership of the ships also, taking on that $4 million debt we're still paying off today.
On top of that, the museum diverts around $150,000 -- from its ticket sales every year -- to help keep up with the maintenance...which clearly hasn't been working.
The reporter asked, "What went wrong here?"
Stryker said, "Well, a lot of things went wrong, a lot of little things went wrong. No big thing. There's no ill intentions here. It was good intentioned people trying to do something for the community."
Stryker says they didn't have the staff or money to keep the ships in good condition and slowly the rot started to eat away at the wood.
He said, "They were all deteriorating at the same rate because we couldn't maintain all three. So since then, we just focused on Pinta and it's getting back into good condition."
In 2009, the Columbus Sailing Association decided to help out.
The city gave the organization $20,000 towards repairs on the Nina.
The group raised another $30,000 and in a year and a half, volunteers turned that ship around.
John Torrey, President of the Columbus Sailing Association, said, "But then it comes back to the fact that it takes a sailor to fix a boat."
Torrey says they plan on helping with repairs to the Pinta next.
Then, they'll take a look at the Santa Maria -- which is in the worst condition -- to see if it can be saved.
The total price tag for this work is expected to be around $3 million.
The reporter asked Torrey, "What are you guys going to do to make sure this disaster doesn't happen again?"
He responded, "Well, the sailors are kind of controlling the situation. So, we have a lot of people on the board and members who are well aware of the pitfalls of the other group."
The Nina is officially open for tours.
The Sailing Association will hold a blessing of the ship Friday night at 6 o'clock at the T-Heads.
The Knights of Columbus and Mayor Joe Adame will be there to help out.
Tickets will be $7 and that includes a bar-b-q meal, entertainment provided by a jazz band with Del Mar College and a tour of the ship.
There will also be a beer tent where people can pay extra for a drink.
Meanwhile, the association hopes to have the Pinta fully restored in six months.
Then, that ship will also move to the T-Heads to be alongside the Nina.
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