Pinta (ship)

Last updated
Replica of La Pinta, in Palos de la Frontera
NameUnknown (see nickname)
OwnerCristóbal Quintero and Gómez Rascón
Nickname(s)La Pinta
General characteristics
Type Caravel
Tons burthen60–70 tons
Length17 m (56 ft) on deck
Beam5.36 m (17.6 ft)
Draught2.31 m (7.6 ft)

La Pinta (Spanish for The Painted One, The Look, or The Spotted One) was the fastest of the three Spanish ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first transatlantic voyage in 1492. The New World was first sighted by Rodrigo de Triana aboard La Pinta on 12 October 1492. The owner of La Pinta was Cristóbal Quintero. The Quintero brothers were ship owners from Palos. The owner of the ship allowed Martín Alonso Pinzón to take over the ship so he could keep an eye on the ship.


La Pinta was a caravel-type vessel. By tradition Spanish ships were named after saints and usually given nicknames. Thus, La Pinta, like La Niña , was not the ship's actual name; La Niña's actual name was the Santa Clara. The Santa María 's original nickname was La Gallega. The actual original name of La Pinta is unknown. The origin of the ship is disputed but is believed to have been built in Spain in the year 1441. She was later rebuilt for use by Christopher Columbus.


La Pinta was square rigged and smaller than Santa María. The ship displaced approximately 60 tons, with an estimated deck length of 17 meters (56 ft) and a width of 5.36 meters (17.6 ft). [1] [2] The crew size was 26 men under Captain Martín Alonso Pinzón.

The other ships of the Columbus expedition were La Niña (real name Santa Clara) and Santa María. There are no known contemporary likenesses of Columbus's ships.

Santa María (also known as the Gallega) was the largest, of a type known as a carrack (carraca in Spanish), or by the Portuguese term nau. La Niña and La Pinta were smaller. They were called caravels, a name then given to the smallest three-masted vessels. Columbus once used the word for a vessel of forty tons, but it generally applied in Portuguese or Spanish use to a vessel ranging from 120 to 140 Spanish "toneles". This word represents a capacity about one-tenth larger than that expressed by the modern English "ton".

La Nina and La Pinta replicas at the 1893 Columbian Exposition The Nina And Pinta -- Official Views Of The World's Columbian Exposition -- 86.jpg
La Niña and La Pinta replicas at the 1893 Columbian Exposition

La Niña, La Pinta, and Santa María were not the largest ships in Europe at the time. They were small trade ships surpassed in size by ships like Great Michael, built in Scotland in 1511 with a length of 73.2 m (240 ft), and a crew of 300 sailors, 120 gunners, and up to 1,000 soldiers. Peter von Danzig of the Hanseatic League was built in 1462 and was 51 m (167 ft) long. Another large ship, the English carrack Grace Dieu, was built during the period 1420–1439, was 66.4 m (218 ft) long, and displaced between 1,400 tons and 2,750 tons. Ships built in Europe in the 15th century were designed to sail the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean coastlines. Columbus' smaller-sized ships were considered riskier on the open ocean than larger ships. This made it difficult to recruit crew members, and a small number were jailed prisoners given a light sentence if they would sail with Columbus. [3]

Most of the commerce of the time was the coastal commerce of the Mediterranean, so it was better if ships did not draw much water. As it sailed, the fleet of Columbus consisted of Gallega (the Galician), which he changed to Santa María, La Pinta and La Niña. Of these the first two were about 130 tons. La Niña was much smaller, not more than 50 tons. One writer says that they were all without full decks, that is, that such decks as they had did not extend from stem to stern. Other authorities, however, speak as if La Niña only was an open vessel, and the two larger were decked. Columbus himself took command of Santa María, Martin Alonso Pinzon of La Pinta, and his brothers, Francis Martin and Vicente Yanez, of La Niña. The whole company in all three ships likely numbered 90 men (Santa Maria 40, La Nina 24, La Pinta 26) although some historians cite 120 men. [4]


La Pinta museum at Baiona, Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain Replica da Pinta en Baiona.JPG
La Pinta museum at Baiona, Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain

A replica of La Pinta was built by the Spanish government for the Columbian Naval Review of 1893. Along with replicas of Santa María and La Niña, it participated in the review. [5]

Replicas are on display in two locations in Spain:

In 2008, a replica of La Pinta, although 15 feet (4.5 m) longer and 8 feet (2.4 m) wider than the original, was launched by the Christopher Columbus Foundation. [7] This ship weighs[ draws? ] 101 tons and often sails alongside an authentic replica of La Niña, which was launched in 1991.

Replica of La Pinta commissioned by the Columbus Foundation Replica of the Pinta Columbus Foundation.JPG
Replica of La Pinta commissioned by the Columbus Foundation

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Caravel</span> Type of sailing ship

The caravel is a small highly-maneuverable sailing ship developed in the 15th century by the Portuguese to explore along the West African coast and into the Atlantic Ocean. The lateen sails gave it speed and the capacity for sailing windward (beating). Caravels were used by the Portuguese and Castilians for the oceanic exploration voyages during the 15th and 16th centuries, during the Age of Discovery.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carrack</span> Type of sailing ship in the 15th century

A carrack is a three- or four-masted ocean-going sailing ship that was developed in the 14th to 15th centuries in Europe, most notably in Portugal. Evolved from the single-masted cog, the carrack was first used for European trade from the Mediterranean to the Baltic and quickly found use with the newly found wealth of the trade between Europe and Africa and then the trans-Atlantic trade with the Americas. In their most advanced forms, they were used by the Portuguese for trade between Europe and Asia starting in the late 15th century, before eventually being superseded in the 17th century by the galleon, introduced in the 16th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Juan de la Cosa</span> Spanish navigator

Juan de la Cosa was a Castilian navigator and cartographer, known for designing the earliest European world map which incorporated the territories of the Americas discovered in the 15th century. De la Cosa was the owner and master of the Santa María, and thus played an important role in the first and second voyage of Christopher Columbus to the West Indies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vicente Yáñez Pinzón</span> Spanish navigator, explorer

Vicente Yáñez Pinzón was a Spanish navigator and explorer, the youngest of the Pinzón brothers. Along with his older brother, Martín Alonso Pinzón, who captained the Pinta, he sailed with Christopher Columbus on the first voyage to the New World, in 1492, as captain of the Niña.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Martín Alonso Pinzón</span> Spanish explorer, oldest of the Pinzón brothers

Martín Alonso Pinzón, was a Spanish mariner, shipbuilder, navigator and explorer, oldest of the Pinzón brothers. He sailed with Christopher Columbus on his first voyage to the New World in 1492, as captain of the Pinta. His youngest brother Vicente Yáñez Pinzón was captain of the Niña, and the middle brother Francisco Martín Pinzón was maestre of the Pinta.

<i>Santa María</i> (ship) Carrack used by Christopher Columbus

La Santa María, alternatively La Gallega, was the largest of the three Spanish ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, the others being the Niña and the Pinta. Her master and owner was Juan de la Cosa, a man from Santoña, Cantabria, operating in south Spanish waters. Requisitioned by order of Queen Isabella and by contract with Christopher Columbus, whom de la Cosa knew previously, the Santa María became Columbus's flagship on the voyage as long as it was afloat. Having gone aground on Christmas Day, 1492, on the shores of Haiti, through inexperience of the helmsman, it was partially dismantled to obtain timbers for Fort Navidad, "Christmas Fort," placed in a native Taíno village. The fort was the first Spanish settlement in the New World, which Columbus had claimed for Spain. He thus regarded the wreck as providential. The hull remained where it was, the subject of much modern wreck-hunting without successful conclusion.

<i>Niña</i> One of the ships in Columbus voyage to the West Indies

La Niña was one of the three Spanish ships used by Italian explorer Christopher Columbus in his first voyage to the West Indies in 1492. As was tradition for Spanish ships of the day, she bore a female saint's name, Santa Clara. However, she was commonly referred to by her nickname, La Niña, which was probably a pun on the name of her owner, Juan Niño of Moguer. She was a standard caravel-type vessel.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pinzón brothers</span> Spanish sailors, pirates, explorers and fishermen

The Pinzón brothers were Spanish sailors, pirates, explorers and fishermen, natives of Palos de la Frontera, Huelva, Spain. Martín Alonso, Francisco Martín and Vicente Yáñez, participated in Christopher Columbus's first expedition to the New World and in other voyages of discovery and exploration in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Voyages of Christopher Columbus</span> 1492–1504 voyages to the Americas

Between 1492 and 1504, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus led four Spanish transatlantic maritime expeditions of discovery to the Americas. These voyages led to the widespread knowledge of the New World. This breakthrough inaugurated the period known as the Age of Discovery, which saw the colonization of the Americas, a related biological exchange, and trans-Atlantic trade. These events, the effects and consequences of which persist to the present, are often cited as the beginning of the modern era.

La Navidad was a settlement that Christopher Columbus and his men established on the northeast coast of Haiti in 1492 from the remains of the Spanish ship the Santa María. La Navidad was the first European colony established in the New World during the Age of Discovery, though it was destroyed by the native Taíno people by the following year.

The ships of Medieval Europe were powered by sail, oar, or both. There was a large variety, mostly based on much older, conservative designs. Although wider and more frequent communications within Europe meant exposure to a variety of improvements, experimental failures were costly and rarely attempted. Ships in the north were influenced by Viking vessels, while those in the south by classical or Roman vessels. However, there was technological change. The different traditions used different construction methods; clinker in the north, carvel in the south. By the end of the period, carvel construction would come to dominate the building of large ships. The period would also see a shift from the steering oar or side rudder to the stern rudder and the development from single-masted to multi-masted ships. As the area is connected by water, people in the Mediterranean built different kinds of ships to accommodate different sea levels and climates. Within the Mediterranean area during the Medieval times ships were used for a multitude of reasons, like war, trade, and exploration.

<i>Lugares colombinos</i>

The Lugares colombinos is a tourist route in the Spanish province Huelva, which includes several places that have special relevance to the preparation and realization of the first voyage of Cristopher Columbus. That voyage is widely considered to constitute the discovery of the Americas by Europeans. It was declared a conjunto histórico artístico by a Spanish law of 1967.

The Niño Brothers were a family of Afro-Spanish sailors from the town of Moguer, who participated actively in Christopher Columbus's first voyage—generally considered to constitute the discovery of the Americas by Europeans—and other subsequent voyages to the New World.

Columbus's vow was a vow by Christopher Columbus and other members of the crew of the caravel Niña on 14 February 1493, during the return trip of Columbus's first voyage to perform certain acts, including pilgrimages, upon their return to Spain. The vow was taken at Columbus's behest during a severe storm at sea.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wharf of the Caravels</span> Maritime museum in Palos de la Frontera, Spain

The Wharf of the Caravels is a museum in Palos de la Frontera, in the province of Huelva, autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Its most prominent exhibits are replicas of Christopher Columbus's boats for his first voyage to the Americas, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María. These were built in 1992 for the Celebration of the Fifth Centenary of the Discovery of the Americas. The replica caravels were built between 1990 and 1992, put through shakedown voyages and then, in 1992, sailed the route of Columbus's voyage.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iberian ship development, 1400–1600</span> Technological development due to wars

Due to centuries of constant conflict, warfare and daily life in the Iberian Peninsula were interlinked. Small, lightly equipped armies were maintained at all times. The near-constant state of war resulted in a need for maritime experience, ship technology, power, and organization. This led the Crowns of Aragon, Portugal, and later Castile, to put their efforts into the sea.

Diego de Arana was governor of the first documented Spanish settlement in the New World, at La Navidad.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Square-rigged caravel</span>

The square-rigged caravel, was a sailing ship created by the Portuguese in the second half of the fifteenth century. A much larger version of the caravel, its use was most notorious beginning in the end of that century. The square-rigged caravel held a notable role in the Portuguese expansion during the age of discovery, especially in the first half of the sixteenth century, for its exceptional maneuverability and combat capabilities. This ship was also sometimes adopted by other European powers. The hull was galleon-shaped, and some experts consider this vessel a forerunner of the fighting galleon, by the name of caravela de armada.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Castillo de Colomares</span> Spanish castle

Castillo de Colomares is a monument, in the form of a castle, dedicated to the life and adventures of Christopher Columbus. It was built near Benalmádena in Spain, between 1987 and 1994. Covering an area of 1,500 meters, it is the largest monument in the world to the explorer, but also contains the smallest church in the world, covering an area of just 1.96 square meters.


  1. Phillips, William D.; Phillips, Carla Rahn (1992). The Worlds of Christopher Columbus. Cambridge University Press. pp. 143–145. ISBN   978-0-521-44652-5.
  2. "Christopher Columbus Ships".
  3. Phillips, William D.; Phillips, Carla Rahn (1992). The Worlds of Christopher Columbus. Cambridge University Press. p. 141. ISBN   978-0-521-44652-5.
  4. Edward Everett Hale (2008) [1891]. The Life of Christopher Columbus. Arc Manor LLC. ISBN   978-1-60450-238-1 . Retrieved May 16, 2011. Chapter II: "His Plans for Discovery".{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  5. "QUEER CRAFT THESE CARAVELS. – Those Who Saw Them Hobble to Anchor Marveled at Columbus's Pluck" . New York Times. 26 April 1893. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  6. Museo de la Carabela Pinta
  7. The Niña & Pinta - The Columbus Foundation