Columbus ship replicas sail into Mississippi harbor

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Spectators watch as a replica of one of Christopher Columbus' ships, the Pinta, is moored, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Biloxi, Miss. The Nina and Pinta replica ships are touring the Mississippi, Alabama and Florida until May. Columbus sailed across the Atlantic on the Nia on his three voyages to the New World beginning in 1492. (AP Photo/Stacey Plaisance)

BILOXI, Miss. – With about a dozen spectators lining a pier on Mississippi's Gulf Coast and aiming their phones out to the horizon, the Niña and Pinta sailed Wednesday into a Biloxi harbor.

Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic on the Niña on his three voyages of discovery to the New World beginning in 1492.

The original Niña was last heard from in 1501, but the replica, which was finished in 1991, serves as a floating museum. It was built entirely by hand, without the use of power tools, and is considered to be the most historically accurate Columbus ship replica ever built.

The Pinta replica was built in Brazil and launched in 2005 to accompany the Niña on travels. It’s a larger version of the archetypal “caravel,” the term for a Portuguese ship used by Columbus and many early explorers.

While in port, the ships will be open for public tours, beginning Thursday. They are scheduled to leave Biloxi on Monday morning.

After a week-long stop in Gulf Shores, Alabama, beginning March 4, the ships will head to Florida, where they have scheduled stops in Fort Walton Beach, Venice, Vero Beach and Fernandina Beach.