SANTA MARIA 1492
Scale 3/16 (1:64) - Walnut, Beech
The flagship of Christopher Columbus during his first crossing of the Atlantic in 1492. She was a Spanish Carrack, probably constructed in the province of Galicia.
La Santa María was also known at the time as La Gallega. Along with the Pinta and the Niña, she was one of the ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in 1492. All three ships were second-hand (if not third- or more) and were not intended for exploration. Santa Maria was the largest of the three ships and was owned by Juan de la Costa, a Basque from Santoña, Cantabria. She became the expedition’s flagship after it was requisitioned by order of Queen Isabella. A contract was setup that declared the ship as Columbus’ flagship as long as it was afloat. She was captained during this voyage by Juan de la Costa himself.
WHAT IS A 'NAO'?
The Santa Maria was most probably a Carrack (Columbus uses the term ‘Nao’ to distinguish her from the smaller Caravels).
Carracks were three- or four-masted ocean-going sailing ships, developed in the 14th to 15th centuries in Portugal. They evolved from the single-masted cog and were eventually superseded in the 17th century by the galleons, introduced in the 16th century.
In its most developed form, the carrack was a carvel-built ocean-going ship, large enough to be stable in heavy seas and carry a large cargo and the provisions needed for very long voyages. The later carracks were square-rigged on the foremast and mainmast, lateen-rigged on the mizzenmast and carried a bowsprit. They had a high stern and stem with a large aftcastle and forecastle. As the predecessor of the galleon, the carrack was one of the most influential ship designs in history; while ships became more specialized in the following centuries, the basic design remained unchanged throughout this period.
Having reached Haiti she ran aground gently on a shoal near Hispaniola due to a mistake of a young and inexperienced helmsman who was left in charge while the Admiral and Captain slept.
Columbus was initially angered, but later came to regard the wreck as providential and decided to occupy the island. Santa Maria was partially dismantled to provide timber for Fort Navidad, built within a native Taino village. The fort was the first Spanish settlement in the New World, which Columbus had claimed for Spain. The rest of the wreck was used as a target for firing practice to impress the natives.
No original plans for the ship survive, only some vague hull measurements and a description of her rig.
The model was based on the plan-set produced by Amati, but the hull was slightly narrowed, based on a comparison with other vessels of the era.
Everywhere they travelled, from America to Japan, European ships of that era were called ‘Black Ships’ by the natives.
Santa Maria too, would probably have appeared black, due to the treatment of the wood. The model was left unpainted, but walnut was used for the external layer of planking to achieve the appearance of a darker hull.
CONSTRUCTION AND MATERIALS
Construction method: Frame on bulkhead, double planked
Keel and bulkheads: Marine Grade Plywood
Internal planking: Maple
External planking: Walnut
Deck planking: Beech
Masts and yards: Walnut
Rigging thread: Hemp
ACCOUNTS OF THE JOURNEY
Major, Richard Henry and Christopher Columbus. Select Letters of Christopher Columbus. Hakluyt Society, 2008
The Diario of Christopher Columbus's First Voyage to America, 1492-1493. University of Oklahoma Press, 1989.
Santa Maria 1492 by Amati
Santa Maria by H. E. Adametz