MARIETTA - The last time residents of Marietta and Washington County saw the Nina and the Pinta was in 2009 when the pair of replica ships docked at Marietta Harbor.
The Nina and the Pinta will leave their current port in Wheeling, W.Va., and arrive in Marietta Thursday. They will call Marietta their port-of-call for 10 days.
The conditions on the Ohio River make sailing the two replica ships a pleasure, said Capt. Morgan Sanger, senior captain for The Columbus Foundation, a British Virgin Islands based organization.
"The Ohio is a marvelous river," he said. "It's deep and wide, and we have very little issues on the Ohio."
Just like the original Nina and Pinta, these replica ships are called caravels, swift and more maneuverable than the earlier ships built more than 500 years ago.
Caravels were used by Magellan and all of the early explorers, said A.J. Sanger, the foundation's public relations director.
"It was a shallow-bottomed boat that was great for exploration," she said. "You don't run aground. You don't have a 12-foot keel."
"That's the only reason people in Ohio get to see these ships. ...Very few boats can even ply the rivers anymore," she added.
When Capt. Sanger is plying the Nina or the Pinta on ocean waters, he said he imagines he has traveled back to the past "all the time."
"You wonder what (explorers) would have done in certain situations like bad weather," he added.
Those touring the pair of replica ships in Marietta will be overwhelmed by their historical significance, he said.
"Everybody's awed when they come on board, especially in the Midwest where you don't see ships like this," said Sanger.
"(Children) think they're on a pirate ship," he added. "It's really hard to shake. They've never seen anything like this in their short lives."
Sanger has captained the Nina for 21 years since its 1991 launch, and the Pinta since its maiden sail in 2006. He spent more than two years conducting research on the ships in Europe, before being in charge of their construction in Brazil.
The Nina and the Pinta will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily from Friday to Oct. 21. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors over 60, $6 for students 5 to 16, and free for children under 4.
The ships will be docked at the Marietta Harbor at the west end of Butler Street.
The Columbus Foundation selects different ports every three or four years, A.J. Sanger said. After leaving Marietta on Oct. 22 the Nina and the Pinta will travel to Charleston, W.Va.; Huntington, W.Va.; and Maysville, Ky.