Bayou Columbo

Yes, the most famous voyage of the Niña and the Pinta went from Spain to the West Indies, but the ships — or at least their modern replicas — anchored at Bayou La Batre again this winter.

Each year the two replica ships make their way to Landry Shipyard in the tiny Alabama coastal town for whatever repairs are needed.

This year it was mainly bottom work, says Rena Landry, who owns the shipyard. But in years past “we’ve replaced the upper deck on the Niña after a fire; we’ve worked on the keel.” Mostly it’s just routine, but critical to keeping the two ships afloat.

At 65 feet and 85 feet, the replicas are based in the British Virgin Islands.

The maintenance work is a perfect fit for the Bayou La Batre shipyard, says Landry, whose father opened the business to build and repair shrimp boats not long after World War II. As the shrimp market has been dampened by overseas competition, Landry has broadened the trade at his five-employee shipyard to include fiberglass boats and wooden yachts.

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If you missed the Niña and Pinta’s tour along the Gulf Coast, take heart. The sailing museum will be on display April 24-28 at the Demopolis Yacht Basin.

Nedra Bloom

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