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La Niña for sale

Volunteer divers and gasoline-powered pumps were used to raise La Niña out of the water at the Corpus Christi Marina on Dec. 4, 2017. The replica ship was damaged and partially sunk when Hurricane Harvey hit the previous August. Courtesy photo

La Niña is for sale. Corpus Christi City Council decided to sell the replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship. It is the last remaining of three replicas, including the Pinta and the Santa Maria, that were bequeathed to the city by Spain in 1993.

Efforts to save the ship as a tourist attraction have come to a halt as the nonprofit group trying to refurbish it dropped to three members. The Columbus Sailing Association raised $20,000 to lift the ship out of the bay after it was partially sunk by Hurricane Harvey last August. The plan was to move it to a shipyard in Aransas Pass for repairs.

Three different parties are interested in a possible purchase, marina superintendent Gina Sanchez recently told reporters.

The sailing association has been in charge of the ships for the past 15 years. Two were dry-docked at the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, where they slowly deteriorated and were eventually torn down and used for spare parts for La Niña. The last surviving ship has been docked at the Lawrence Street T-head in the Corpus Christi Marina for several years.

All three ships were made from the same type of materials used to build the originals in the 15th century. The wood came from trees grown on the Iberian Peninsula. Spain spent $6.5 million on the project to commemorate the 500th anniversary of when Columbus landed in the western world.

Corpus Christi became the permanent home for the ships because residents and visitors showed so much support for them. More than 100,000 people visited the ships in just a month. About 50,000 schoolchildren sent letters asking for the ships to be docked in Corpus Christi.

The last remaining vessel belongs to the city, and City Council will have the final say on what happens to her.

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