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Paying vehicular homage to Christopher Columbus

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Columbus Day
Photo: NASA Images

It being Columbus Day weekend, it seem only fitting that one group of voyage-obsessed enthusiasts take a look at the conveyances of a bygone era. We all know that Columbus's initial trip to this side of the Atlantic, the one where he bumped into Hispanola but is famously heralded as his "discovery" of America, used three ships, the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. What exactly were those ships, though? There were no cars back in the day, but when undertaking a long voyage in our times, you'll likely start thinking about a suitable automobile. How, then, would what we have available now match up to what Ol' Christoforo hisself could wring out of his Spanish benefactors?

The Santa Maria was the largest of the three boats, a Carrack. Carracks were large enough to be stable on the open ocean and carry the oodles of supplies necessary for long periods at sea. A modern equivalent might be a minivan. Of course, minivans aren't so mini anymore. Peeked at a Dodge Caravan lately? There's more square footage, flexible seating, in-floor storage, and entertainment gear in the Caravan than you'll find in the typical BU dorm room.

The other two ships, the Nina and the Pinta, were smaller. A modern equivalent might be Toyota's Venza or the Ford Flex. Still roomy, but not the flagship of the floatilla. While the Nina is rumored to be Columbus's favorite, the Pinta was the fastest of the three, perhaps a long-ago forerunner of the EcoBoost Flex, packing 355 swift horsepower to go with all those seating positions.

So, when undertaking a long voyage, if we follow the lead laid out by this holiday's celebrity, there's not going to be any Corvettes. The sailing corvettes didn't start hitting naval fleets until the 1600s, never mind the wheeled 'Vette that took another 300 years to happen. Even if you pay homage to the voyage with your own fleet of dynamically uninteresting vehicles, one you reach a distant land, there'll be plenty to see, eat, and do, and the cargo holds will be very handy for all the keepsakes you'll be dragging back for the monarchy. 

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