BUCKSPORT — The Nao Santa Maria, a full-size replica of the vessel piloted by Christopher Columbus in 1492, docked in Bucksport Harbor July 8 as part of the “4-port loop” bicentennial events taking place this month.

Compared to modern ships, this one is surprisingly compact. While the 200-ton vessel with three masts and a bowsprit is over 90 feet long, it is by no means a huge vessel by today’s standards.

Ship Manager Angel Rosa poses on the poop deck of the Nao Santa Maria docked at Bucksport Harbor July 9. Fran Gonzalez

Ship Manager Angel Rosa said the ship’s homeport is Huelva, Spain, near Seville, but added the vessel is hardly ever there. The vessel has been constantly touring since it was built in 2017 — “like rock stars.”

The crew went down to Mexico to be in a film and crossed the Panama Canal in February 2020. Three days after they completed their role in the production, the film was suspended because of the pandemic. The movie, which has yet to be released, is called “Mexica.”

When asked how the ship fares in inclement weather, Rosa said, “She rocks and rolls,” noting that with its high sides and curved bottom, the vessel reacts like a nut floating on the water. “It can almost flip on any side,” he said. At one point, he said, the ship listed 45 degrees. “It can be scary,” he added. “But it’s not always like that.”

Intricate woodwork can be seen on the hull of the Nao Santa Maria docked at Bucksport Harbor July 9. Fran Gonzalez

Because of the curved hull, one can notice movement easily, he said. “It’s like surfing,” Rosa said, when the vessel shifts from side to side, but added it is worse when the ship moves up and down. “It can get complicated,” he said. “You get used to it, but when it is crazy, sometimes it is too much.”

Rosa said the ship travelled to Maine two years ago on its first tour and docked in Portland and Boothbay Harbor. The stop in Bucksport is its first time in the Midcoast. “It’s very nice,” he said. “We are very excited to take part in the 4-Port Loop.”

On this day, Rosa said the ship and crew were keeping a weather eye on the tropical storm heading up the coast. “Hopefully it will just be heavy rain,” he said. After that, the crew will be able to enjoy their cruise a little bit more.

James Porter, a deckhand who joined the crew in Galveston, Texas, said he served in the Air Force and is retired from AT&T, took a tour of the ship in Galveston and saw a sign asking for volunteers. Having sold his house, Porter signed up as a volunteer for three months.

The ship differs from the original with a few modern conveniences, he said. This version is equipped with twin diesel engines and a generator that provides electricity for a host of modern gadgets. There is a shower and a one-room dormitory bunkhouse. Porter said he was initially struck by the compact size of the vessel. “I was expecting something larger.”

Before coming to Bucksport, Porter said, the vessel was anchored off Cape Cod waiting for a storm with high winds and rain to pass.

While it is in Bucksport, the Nao Santa Maria will be offering self-guided tours from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Tall ships and schooners, along with a U.S. Coast Guard patrol craft and the University of Maine’s 3-D printed boat (the largest 3-D printed object in the world) will cruise the Penobscot River, celebrating the state’s rich maritime past in Bangor, Bucksport, Orrington and Searsport.

For a complete listing of events, visit 4portloop.me/.

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