‘Sailing museum’ of Columbus replica ships to dock in Waukegan

Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, but next week, his ships will be sailing on Lake Michigan to Waukegan Harbor.

Replicas of his ships, that is.

Both the Pinta and Nina ships that make up the Columbus Foundation’s “sailing museum” will dock at the harbor, 55 S. Harbor Place, and will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 26 to 30 for self-guided tours.

Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for students ages 5-16. Children younger than 5 are admitted free.

The educational museum teaches about caravels, which are the Portuguese ships used by Columbus and many early explorers in the early 1400s to early 1500s.

The Nina was the ship Columbus used to sail across the Atlantic on three voyages to the New World. The foundation claims theirs is the most historically accurate replica ever built. The ship was built by hand and without the use of power tools. The Pinta was built more recently and is a larger version of the typical caravel.

“Both are beautifully built,” said A.J. Sanger, the Columbus Foundation’s public relations director. “Probably what you would find most impressive is the detail on the ships.”

The museum has been all over the country, from Texas to New York to Michigan, and now will come to Waukegan for its only stop in Illinois. This year’s 18-stop tour will end in September.

Groups of a minimum of 15 people can schedule 30-minute guided tours with a crew member for $4 per person by calling (787) 672-2152.

“Every child studies Christopher Columbus in school, but they don’t necessarily study too much about the maritime aspect of what Christopher Columbus did,” Sanger said. “It’s a fascinating part of history ... and it’s part of our heritage.”

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