DAVENPORT, Iowa – When Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, the Niña and Pinta were right there with him.
Although it’s impossible to return to that year, modern travelers have an opportunity to see these two ships, one built to be historically accurate. They’ll be at Oneida landing, at the foot of Bridge Street, Aug. 19-30.
The Niña, a caravel, was built by hand, and not a single power tool touched it. Since 1991, it has visited more than 425 ports.
The Pinta, on the other hand, is a recent addition. It was built in Brazil to travel with the Niña. This ship is a caravel, too, but it’s larger than the original Pinta to accommodate tourists. It has a few things Columbus lacked, such as seating and air conditioning in the cabin.
As a bonus, the Pinta is available for private parties and charters.
The ships are an exhibit honoring the caravel, which originated in Portugal. In their day, they had many uses – carrying cargo, patrolling, going to war and even doing some pirating. Visitors can go onboard to take a self-guided tour. No reservations are needed.
Although Columbus’ vessels are in the area for a short time, there are other ships ready to take guests over the waters of the Mississippi River. The Channel Cat Water Taxi is a way to experience the Rock River Rapids, which once was considered the most dangerous area in the upper section of the river. The danger has passed, thanks to the Army Corps of Engineers creating a channel to slow the river.
The water taxi rate is $6 for adults and $3 for children 2-10 – a cost that allows customers to ride all day for one charge. Tickets can be purchased onboard.
Ports of call are Moline and Davenport, Iowa. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 7:40 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays; 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; and 9 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. Friday, Saturdays and Sundays.
The landings used are Moline at 2501 E. River Drive; The Quarter at East Moline, near the visitors center on Seventh Street; Bettendorf, Iowa, at 17th Street and Isle Parkway; village of East Davenport, Iowa, at the foot of Mound Street; and John Deere Commons Landing, 13th Street, Moline.
Landings are used on varying days, so it’s best to check at www.qcchannelcat.com or 309-788-3360.
The taxi gives passengers access to the Celebration Belle, an excursion boat; Great River Trail; Beacon Harbor; Isle of Capri Casino, Bettendorf, Iowa; shopping; dining; and the John Deere Pavilion.
If you go
What: Pinta and Niña visit.
When: Aug. 19 arrival; Aug. 30 departure.
Time: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
Where: Oneida Landing, foot of Bridge Street, Davenport, Iowa.
Cost: $7 for adults, $6 for seniors; $5 for students; free for children 4 and younger.
Information: Visit www.visitquadcities.com or call Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-747-7800.