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Volunteers prep La Nina for restoration voyage

Posted at 7:18 PM, Jun 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-10 20:18:23-04

Restorers have worked for years to keep the La Nina replica on the Bayfront seaworthy.

She’s the last of three replica caravel ships built to commemorate Christopher Columbus’ fleet.  On Monday, work started to get her ready for a full restoration; nut La Nina’s future after restoration is uncertain.

The Columbus Sailing Association, the group that’s cared for La Nina since 2006 isn’t sure where the ship will land once she’s restored.  Right now, they’re focused on returning the ship to her former glory.>

Volunteers are preparing La Nina for another voyage, one they hope isn’t her last.

“We’re getting her prepped to make a safe trip across the bay to Aransas Pass, which is where the shipyard is,” said Kim Mrazek, President of the Columbus Sailing Association.

Once in the yard, the caravel replica will be completely restored.  That includes a new bottom, and a more authentic mast.  The previous mast was an old telephone pole.

“She could never have sailed again, you couldn’t put sails on a mast like that,” said Mrazek.  “It wasn’t big enough around, the original mast was much larger, and not quite as tall.”

The ship has sunk twice since Hurricane Harvey, and the Columbus Sailing Association expects a lengthy repair.

“This time she’s going to be in restoration probably for a long time,” said Mrazek.

Much of La Nina’s wood damage was caused by wood worms.  Plans call for the hull to be fiberglass lined to the water line to prevent future damage.

“There will never be another wood worm on this ship,” said Mrazek.

While the association isn’t sure what will happen to La Nina once she’s restored, they are sure that the ship needs a home on the water, and not in dry-dock.

“We destroyed two-thirds of the Columbus fleet by leaving them in dry-dock,” said Mrazek.  “Salt water is good for wooden ships.”

Volunteers with the Columbus Sailing Association say restoring La Nina won’t be cheap.  They’ve received some donations, as well as pledges for others, but more are needed to complete repairs.

The Columbus Sailing Association is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization, and donations are tax deductible.  Click here if you’d like to donate.