- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - Two replicas of ships sailed by Christopher Columbus on his way to the New World in 1492 docked on the Peoria riverfront Thursday for a 10-day visit.

The public is welcome to climb aboard the Nina and the Pinta to get a sense of what life was like for crew members 500 years ago. The original ships each carried 24 men who lived and slept on their decks for months on end.

Today, the replica ships each carry a crew of seven men who double as tour guides, leading public tours and teaching visitors about the life and mission of the 15th Century crews.

The ships travel the country for 10-and-a-half months each year, Stephen Sanger, captain of the Nina, told the Journal Star (http://bit.ly/1m0cmWT ). The ships, with their towering masts and thick tillers, draw crew members from all around, he said.

“I fell in love with the boat when I saw it walking out of an Irish bar in Savannah, Georgia,” said Tom Sonnenberger, a retired sailor. “I originally signed up for 30 days on the boat, but I plan on staying 60. I may try 90.”

There’s a kinship abroad the ships that can’t be beat, he said.

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Information from: Journal Star, http://pjstar.com

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