La Nina (Spanish for The Girl) was one of the three ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first voyage towards the Indies in 1492. The real name of the Nina was Santa Clara. The name Nina was probably a pun on the name of her owner, Juan Niño of Moguer. She was a standard caravel-type vessel.
The other ships of the Columbus expedition were the caravel-type Pinta and the carrack-type Santa María. The Niña was by far Columbus's favorite. She was originally lateen sail rigged caravela latina, but she was re-rigged as caravela redonda at Azores with square sails for better ocean performance. There is no authentic documentation on the specifics of the Nina's design, although Michele de Cuneo, who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage, mentioned that the Nina was "about 60 toneladas" (60 tons), which may indicate a medium sized Caravel of around 50 feet (15 m) in length on deck. Often said to have had three masts, there is some evidence she may have had four masts.
The Nina, Pinta, and the Santa María were built to sail the Mediterranean sea, not the open ocean. They were smaller trade ships greatly surpassed in size by ships like the 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. The Peter von Danzig of the Hanseatic League was built in 1462 and was 51 m (167.3 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 weighed between 1,400 tons and 2,750 tons.
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