Painting depicting La Niña, La Pinta, and the Santa Maria. San Diego Maritime Museum.

The story of Christopher Columbus would not have been complete without three ships: Santa Maria, La Pinta, and La Niña. Their names are still famous, but the ships themselves seem to have disappeared from the pages of history.

Columbus took three ships on his long and dangerous travels. They were not the strongest, the most comfortable, or the most modern ships. However, around 88 men (or a few more) accompanied the explorer on these three ships and sailed them from Palos de la Fontera on August 3, 1492. This expedition changed the world forever.

The crews, especially the captains, were experienced on the sea. All of the ships could travel with an average speed of a little less than 4 knots a day. Their maximum speed was about 8 knots. The ships’ measurements are only known from research and documents that were prepared much later than 1492.

The One Which Housed Columbus

The main ship of the fleet was Santa Maria, called in Spanish ‘La Santa María de la Inmaculada Concepción.’ For many months it was Christopher Columbus’ home. It was the place where he spent hours with his maps and diary and sought the right path for his ships.