Back to the Origins

Carlos is the commander of the replica of the Santa Maria, the flagship of the famous fleet of caravels in the first journey of Christopher Columbus. The project curated by the Fondacion Nao Victoria is aimed at promoting the historic Spanish navy: a beautiful dream made possible by private and only a small part of public funding. Historians say that the Santa Maria ran aground on a coral reef on Christmas Eve 1492, off a Caribbean island. And those who have sailed in these seas know well how insidious these reefs can still be today. Even with our advanced technological tools, in some cases it is always a good practice for someone to climb on a cross to see the bottom of the sea from above. This reconstruction of the Santa Maria will go back to Costa Rica and Mexico and finally to Washington, stopping in numerous ports where it can be visited as a real floating museum. On board, young volunteers will take turns in navigation and maintenance work. The caravels sailed at angles of up to 120 degrees; only with the staysail it was possible to go up almost to the side, but drifting a lot. Today’s Santa Maria can reach a speed of 5 knots with all the sails open, just like the original one, but it is also equipped with two engines. Carlos confesses that navigation is rather annoying due to the continuous roll. For those of us who have always had a passion for the great sea-fearing stories of the past, climbing on the stern castle, where the rudder, the mast and the commandant’s cabin are located, is fantastic! Valerio is struck by the optimism and desire that animates these children and we reflect together on how formative this experience can be for them. Before leaving, going down on the bridge as the only Italians, we put ourselves in the shoes of the Genoese navigator and greet them as if they were our Spanish crew. One of them replies smiling: “Adiós Comandante Colón!”

Carlo, the commander of the Santa Maria
The stern castle
The captain’s cabin
The bridge of the caravel
Valerio, Carlos and I at the tiller
The Santa Maria moored on the quay