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Functional sailing replica, Funchal, Madeira Islands, Portugal
Career (Spain) Banner of arms crown of Castille Habsbourg style.svg
Name: Santa María de la Inmaculada Concepción
Owner: Juan de la Cosa
Struck: December 25 1492
General characteristics
Class and type: Nao
Beam: 3
Complement: 40

The Santa María de la Inmaculada Concepción, (English: The Imaculate Conception of Mary), was the largest of the three ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492. Her master and owner was Juan de la Cosa. Columbus himself sailed on the Santa Maria.



The Santa María was a small nao, about 70 feet long[1][citation needed], used as the flagship for the expedition. She carried 40 men.

The other ships of the Columbus expedition were the caravel-type ships Santa Clara, remembered as the Niña ("The Girl" – a pun on the name of her owner, Juan Niño) and Pinta ("The Painted" – this might be a reference to excessive makeup). All these ships were second-hand (if not third or more) and were never meant for exploration.

The Santa María was originally named La Gallega ("The Galician"), because she was built in Pontevedra, Galicia. It seems the ship was known to her sailors as Marigalante, Spanish for "Gallant Mary". Bartolomé de Las Casas never used La Gallega, Marigalante or Santa María in his writings, preferring to use la Capitana or La Nao.

The Santa María had a single deck and three masts. She was the slowest of Columbus' vessels but performed well in the Atlantic crossing. She ran aground off the present-day site of Cap Haitien, Haiti on December 25, 1492, and was lost.[2] Realizing that the ship was beyond repair, Columbus ordered his men to strip the timbers from the ship. The timbers from the ship were later used to build Môle Saint-Nicolas, which was originally called La Navidad (Christmas) because the wreck occurred on Christmas Day.


Non-sailing replica, Columbus, Ohio

Columbus' crew on the first voyage was not composed of criminals as is widely believed. Many were experienced seamen from the port town of Palos and the surrounding countryside and coastal area of Galicia. It is true, however, that the Spanish sovereigns offered amnesty to convicts who signed up for the voyage, but only four men took up the offer: one who had killed a man in a fight, and three friends of his who had then helped him escape from jail.

There were some crew members from Andalusia, as the voyage was financed by a syndicate of seven noble Genovese bankers resident in Seville (the group was linked to Américo Vespucci and funds belonging to Lorenzo di Pier Francesco de Medici). Hence all the accounting and recording of the voyage was kept in Seville. This also applies to the second voyage, even though the syndicate had by then been disbanded. This fact partly debunks the romantic story that the Queen of Spain had used a necklace that she had received from her husband the King, as collateral for a loan.

Of Columbus' four voyages, only the crew of the first voyage is completely known. In many cases, there are no surnames; the men's places of origin are indicated to differentiate crewmen with the same given names.


First crew

  • Christopher Colombus, Captain
  • Juan de la Cosa, maestre (Santoña).
  • Sancho Ruiz, piloto.
  • Alonso Pérez Roldán, piloto.
  • Maestre Alonso, físico, de Moguer.
  • Maestre Diego, contramaestre.
  • Rodrigo Sánchez de Segovia, veedor.
  • Pedro Gutiérrez, repostero de estradas del Rey.
  • Rodrigo de Escobedo, Scrivener
  • Diego de Arana, Master-at-arms, (Córdoba)
  • Diego Lorenzo, Master-at-arms
  • Luis de Torres, Interpreter
  • Domingo de Lequeitio.
  • Lope, calafate.
  • Jacome el Rico, (Genoa)
  • Pedro Terreros, maestresala.
  • Rodrigo de Jerez, (Ayamonte)
  • Ruiz García, (Santoña)
  • Rodrigo de Escóbar
  • Francisco de Huelva
  • Rui Fernández (Huelva)
  • Pedro de Soria
  • Pedro de Bilbao, (Larrabezua).
  • Pedro de Villa, del Puerto.
  • Diego de Salcedo, criado de Colón.
  • Pedro de Acevedo, paje.


Functional sailing replica

Interest in reconstructing the Taylor Santa María started in the 1890s for the 400th anniversary of Columbus's voyage. The 1892 reconstruction depicted the ship as a nao. A subsequent replica built in the 20th century (pictured above) depicts the Santa María as a caravel. The caravel did not have the high forward structure of the nao. Apparently Columbus himself referred to the Santa María as both a nao and a caravel in his own journal. The 1992 reconstruction of the Santa María is also as a nao, which is the most commonly accepted type of ship.[3]. Anchored in Deep Sea Adventure Lake, West Edmonton Mall's Santa María ship is also a replica of the Santa Maria. Built at False Creek in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the ship was hand-carved, hand-painted and transported in flatbed trucks across the Rocky Mountains to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. [4]

See also


  1. ^ Another editor gives her length as about 82 feet.
  2. ^ Maclean, Frances (January 2008). "The Lost Fort of Columbus". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved January 24 2008. 
  3. ^ The Ships of Christopher Columbus, Xavier Pastor, Naval Institute Press, 1992, ISBN 978-1844860142 - a good reference on reconstructions of the Santa María (along with the Pinta and Niña).
  4. ^


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