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Christopher Columbus replica ship extends stay in Castine

WCSH-TV Portland, ME logo WCSH-TV Portland, ME 7/12/2021 Hannah Dineen
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UPDATE: According to a press release on Tuesday, July 20, the Tall Ship Nao Santa Maria is extending its stay in Castine and will be docked at Otter’s Waterfront Eatery through Sunday, July 25. Tours will be offered Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Last week, the Spanish tall ship Nao Santa Maria sailed to Bucksport to the delight of some spectators and to the dismay of others. 

The tall ship is a replica of the Christopher Columbus ship that sailed across the Atlantic Ocean more than 500 years ago.

"It's pretty cool," 16-year-old Ethan Whitty said of visiting the boat. "I mean, you don't get to see this often. I mean, learning about history and everything."

Ethan visited the boat with his grandfather, High Whitty, who said, "It's amazing how it's built and I can't imagine building it with the limited tools they had back then."

The vessel travels through some of the world's ports, educating people about one of the Christopher Columbus ships that sailed across the Atlantic Ocean more than 500 years ago.

However, docked in Maine, some Penobscot Nation community members say they feel offended.

Penobscot Nation Tribal Ambassador Maulina Dana said, "Obviously that hits a nerve with Indigenous people because of all the triggering thoughts about genocide and what Christopher Columbus stood for."

The Penobscot Marine Heritage Association invited the ship to the state as a way to celebrate Maine's bicentennial. However, upon hearing complaints and concerns from the Penobscot Nation, it canceled the remainder of the ship's planned trip throughout the state. 

While the ship was initially scheduled to travel to Bangor and leave the state on Sunday, July 18, it will leave on Tuesday morning. 

Ship manager Angel Rosa says he was initially confused by the change in plans.

"We didn't know what was happening," he said. "Some people said we had to leave, some people said the opposite."

Rather than close the ship to visitors immediately, it will continue its planned visit in Bucksport. It will be open to tours through Monday, Jul 12. 

Rosa says the goal of the tall ship's floating museum is to educate people about the history of the ship.

"We were invited to come here and to do what we do. We are touring around the U.S. going from town to town and we don't know what to expect in different towns or different states. So this was a surprise, but we understand all the points of view, but many people want to visit the ship and meet the history."

However, it's a history Tribal Ambassador Maulina Dana said shouldn't be celebrated, as it's harmful to her community. 

"We definitely weren't just offended, we were very outraged and disappointed that anybody would think this is a good idea," said Dana.

In 2019, state lawmakers renamed the holiday that honored Columbus because of the atrocities he and other European explorers committed. Gov. Janet Mills signed the bill into law in April of 2019.

The United States Coast Guard's Abbie Burgess ship was originally scheduled to take part in the event. However, a Coast Guard media representative told NEWS CENTER Maine that organizers told them not to send the ship because the event was canceled.

The Nao Santa Maria will remain docked at the Bucksport marina until Tuesday morning-- and is still open for tours on Monday. The tours are $15 for adults and $5 for children.

The original four-port loop event will still be celebrated in each town, but without the Nao Santa Maria ship.

RELATED: Congress weighs kicking racist chief justice's statue from Capitol

RELATED: Penobscot Nation 'disappointed and disheartened' by Columbus ship replica's visit to Bucksport

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