CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — La Niña was one of three ships given to Corpus Christi by the government of Spain in 1992.
They were built to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the first voyage of Columbus.
And their time here in Corpus Christi proved to be much more hazardous than sailing across the Atlantic.
The La Nina --- the last surviving ship of the Columbus fleet --- was demolished today. And what’s left of the ship can be found after crews took her over by the breakwater to be demolished.
According to the Columbus Sailing Association, the group that was responsible for the ship, everything was in place to get La Nina across the bay to Aransas Pass for restoration except for the money.
“And she left into the fog, and I didn't get to say goodbye,” said Kim Mrazek of the Columbus Sailing Association.
Mrazek sailed on La Niña from 1995 to 2000 as a sailing instructor. Wednesday morning, she learned the journey was over for La Nina.
The marina superintendent called her to a meeting. Mrazek says she knew the news would not be good, the ship had to be demolished.
“And just over time they've lost members and the financial responsibility has become too much of a burden for them,” said marina superintendent Gina Sanchez.
La Nina belonged to the city, but the Columbus Sailing Association was tasked with caring for her in past years.
The money promised to the association by a benefactor to restore La Nina never came through.
Sanchez said that time simply ran out for the ship...
"She is really just worn and tired and she continues to leak and we don't want her to sink again,” Sanchez said. “That’s not just good. An executive decision was made.”
Preston Smith has kept his sailboat in the marina for the last five years and has seen La Nina through all her ups and downs.
“It was under a business with no management and the people could have saved this ship but they didn't because they didn't get the community behind them,” Smith said. “And that's the sad part about it.”
Mrazek says her group did its best with La Nina and she has no regrets.
“We have been patching the holes in the ship, taking care of her the best we can,” she said. “But again, people who are criticizing, all I want to ask them was where was your money? Why didn't you donate if you were so worried?"
As far as funds for the demolition, the city of Corpus Christi had already allocated that money.
“And it’ll go to the landfill where her sisters did.”
La Nina was taken to shallow water to be demolished on board a barge.
That reduced the risk of the ship sinking in deeper water.
A contractor was hired to haul away the debris. But if you look closely, you might find a few pieces of history still floating along the bay.
Members of the Columbus Sailing Association say they hope to obtain another educational ship sometime in the future.