Pinta (ship)

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Replica of the Pinta, in Palos de la Frontera
Banner of arms crown of Castille Habsbourg style.svgCastile
Name: Unknown
Launched: 1441(?)
Nickname(s): Pinta
General characteristics
Class & type: Caravel
Tons burthen: 60–70 tons
Length: 17 m (56 ft) on deck
Beam: 5.36 m (17.6 ft)
Draught: 2.31 m (7.6 ft)
Propulsion: sail
Complement: 26

La Pinta (Spanish for The Pint (liquid measure), The Look, or The Spotted One ) was the fastest of the three ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first transatlantic voyage in 1492. The New World was first sighted by Rodrigo de Triana on the Pinta on October 12, 1492. The owner of the Pinta was Cristobal Quintero. The Quintero brothers were ship owners from Palos. The owner of the ship allowed Martin Alonso Pinzon to take over the ship so he could keep an eye on the ship.

The Pinta was a caravel-type vessel. By tradition Spanish ships were named after saints and usually given nicknames. Thus, the Pinta, like the Niña, was not the ship's actual name. The actual name of the Pinta is unknown. The origin of the ship is disputed but is believed to have been built in Spain in the year 1441. It was later rebuilt for use by Christopher Columbus.


The Pinta was square rigged and smaller than the Santa María. The ship weighed approximately 60 tons with an estimated deck length of 17 meters (56 ft) and a width of 5.36 meters (17.6 ft).

[1][2] The crew size was 26 men under Captain Martín Alonso Pinzón.

The other ships of the Columbus expedition were the Niña and the Santa María. There are no known contemporary likenesses of Columbus's ships.

The Santa María (aka the Gallega) was the largest, of a type known as a carrack (carraca in Spanish), or by the Portuguese term nau. The Niña and the Pinta were smaller. They were called caravels, a name then given to the smallest three-masted vessels. Columbus once used it for a vessel of forty tons, but it generally applied in Portuguese or Spanish use to a vessel ranging one hundred and twenty to one hundred and forty Spanish "toneles". This word represents a capacity about one-tenth larger than that expressed by the modern English "ton".

Nina and Pinta replicas at the 1893 Columbian Exposition

The Niña, Pinta, and the Santa María were not the largest ships in Europe at the time. They were small trade ships 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. Ships built in Europe in the fifteenth century were designed to sail the Mediterranean sea and the Atlantic ocean coastlines. Columbus' smaller-sized ships were considered riskier on the open ocean than larger ships. This made it difficult to recruit crew members, and a small number were jailed prisoners given a lighter sentence if they would sail with Columbus.[3]

Most of the commerce of the time was the coastal commerce of the Mediterranean, so it was better if ships did not draw much water. The fleet of Columbus, as it sailed, consisted of the Gallega (the Galician), which he changed the name to the Santa María, and of the Pinta and the Niña. Of these the first two were of a tonnage that should be rated as about one hundred and thirty tons. The Niña was much smaller, not more than fifty tons. One writer says that they were all without full decks, that is, that such decks as they had did not extend from stem to stern. Other authorities, however, speak as if the Niña was only an open vessel, and the two larger were decked. Columbus himself took command of the Santa María, Martin Alonso Pinzon of the Pinta, and his brothers, Francis Martin and Vicente Yanez, of the Niña. The whole company in all three ships numbered one hundred and twenty men.[4]


La Pinta museum at Baiona, Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain

A replica of the Pinta was built by the Spanish government for the Columbian Naval Review of 1893. Along with replicas of the Santa Maria and the Niña it participated in the review.[5]

Replicas are on display at

In 2005, a replica of the Pinta was built by the Columbus Foundation, as well as one of the Niña. This ship weighs 101 tons and often sails alongside the Niña.

Replica of the Pinta commissioned by the Columbus Foundation


  1. ^ Phillips, William D.; Phillips, Carla Rahn (1992). The Worlds of Christopher Columbus. Cambridge University Press. pp. 143–145. ISBN 978-0-521-44652-5. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Phillips, William D.; Phillips, Carla Rahn (1992). The Worlds of Christopher Columbus. Cambridge University Press. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-521-44652-5. 
  4. ^ Edward Everett Hale (2008) [1891]. The Life of Christopher Columbus. Arc Manor LLC. ISBN 978-1-60450-238-1. Retrieved May 16, 2011. Chapter II: "His Plans for Discovery". 
  5. ^ "QUEER CRAFT THESE CARAVELS. - Those Who Saw Them Hobble to Anchor Marveled at Columbus's Pluck.". New York Times. 26 April 1893. Retrieved 18 November 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  6. ^ Museo de la Carabela Pinta

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