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The Santa Maria is on its way to Beaufort. Here’s how you can tour the 90-foot ship

El Galeon sails past The Sands

El Galeon, a 16th century replica cargo vessel, sails past the beach, landing and boardwalk at The Sands on Thursday, April 21, 2016 in Port Royal. The ship will be moored off of the Port Royal Dock at the end of 11th Street.
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El Galeon, a 16th century replica cargo vessel, sails past the beach, landing and boardwalk at The Sands on Thursday, April 21, 2016 in Port Royal. The ship will be moored off of the Port Royal Dock at the end of 11th Street.

Visitors to Beaufort’s waterfront might notice a distinctive vessel moored in the river this month.

The Nao Santa Maria, a model of the ship Christopher Columbus captained in 1492, will dock in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park starting March 29. Visitors will be able to walk the ship’s decks on a self-guided tour with informational panels and interact with the crew about what life was like as one of the original crew members.

The 200-ton ship was built for the 525th anniversary of the expedition, according to its website. It is about 93 feet long and includes three masts, the tallest standing more than 80 feet above the water line.

The Santa Maria will be in Beaufort from March 29 until April 7 and is hosted by the Santa Elena Foundation. Tickets are $10 for ages 11 and older, $5 for ages 5 to 10 and $25 for a family of two adults and up to three children.

Santa Maria’s visit coincides with the Santa Elena Foundation’s second annual Shipwrecks Conference held at USC Beaufort on April 5. The event will include historians and archaeologists talking about various aspects of voyages and shipwrecks during the 16th century.

For $50 a ticket, people can board the Santa Maria with the visiting scholars for wine and hors d’oeuvres the evening of April 4. The ship is available to rent to large groups other nights during its visit.

In 2016, the Santa Elena Foundation welcomed El Galeon, a model 16th century cargo ship. The ship docked in Port Royal as part of the organization’s event marking the 450th anniversary of the Santa Elena settlement on what is now Parris Island.

Stephen Fastenau covers northern Beaufort County as a reporter for The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet, where he has worked since 2010 and been recognized with state and national awards. He studied journalism and political science at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and lives in Beaufort.
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