Coming (Maybe) To Kemah: A Fake Christopher Columbus Ship

You know what Kemah needs?

We mean, beyond extensive repairs in the wake of Hurricane Ike.

What Kemah (apparently) needs is a replica of the Nina, one of the three boats Christopher Columbus sailed to make his old-white-man invasion of the bucolic New World.

There is a mysterious plan afoot to restore the Nina replica that sits now in Corpus Christi, forlorn and in need of maybe a million dollars' worth of repairs.

At least it's in better shape than the Pinta and the Santa Maria, which were rammed by a barge a decade or so ago and haven't been fixed since.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports that the Corpus city manager is considering a recommendation in which unnamed friends of the Spanish consulate in Houston would donate an untold amount of money to repair the Nina, now owned by the Corpus Christi Museum of  Science and History, with the city kicking in some cash too, for repairs.

(Highlight of the Caller-Times piece: "It's not clear how much the supply costs would be, although the museum has an estimate. [Museum director Rick] Stryker wouldn't tell [museum] board members what the estimate says. 'It doesn't serve any purpose to throw numbers around,' he said." Yeah -- best not muck things up with a whole lot of details or anything.)

Previous estimates said it might cost $1 million to restore the Nina. The three fake ships sailed the world and landed in Corpus as part of the 500th anniversary of Columbus' 1492 voyage.

As part of the restoration, the city would have to agree to let the unnamed private donors bring the ship to Kemah "for use as a stationary display during [a] boat race," the paper reported.

Determined to show how open and well-thought-out the whole idea is, we get this: "Stryker wouldn't elaborate on the length of the visit, but said the move to Kemah wouldn't be permanent. The museum doesn't yet have a plan on how to insure the ship while it's being transported or know how much U.S. Coast Guard inspection and certification would cost."

So you probably shouldn't go out and make your Nina-tour reservations just yet.

-- Richard Connelly

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