La Niña - Card/Paper Model
The photos below are of a card/paper model of La Niña that I built from a set of cards purchased from Fiddlersgreen.
La Niña (Spanish for "The Girl") was one of three ships (the other two were La Pinta and La Santa Maria) used by Christopher Columbus in his first voyage towards the Indies in 1492. She was a lateen-rigged Caravel - a small maneuverable ship with triangular sails. These lateen sails enabled her to sail close to the wind without the tacking (zig-zagging) that the Pinta and Santa Maria had to do to get the wind behind their sails therefore she could cover a specific distance faster. She also had a smaller draught which meant that she was able to close-in nearer to coasts and enter tributaries/rivers with less fear of running aground than her companion ships.The Niña had a crew of 24 men, captained by Vicente Yáñez Pinzón. As can be seen from the model, La Niña was relatively a very small ship with little space below decks to accomodate the crew. What space there was apart from ballast was taken up by barrels of drinking water/wine and provisions which had to keep the crew alive not only when outward bound into the unknown but also during their way back home (unless they were lucky enough to find food or water on any islands/land they might come across). The crew therefore had to sleep above deck and only during stormy weather would they cram themselves below deck to avoid being swept overboard. They left Palos de la Frontera on August 3, 1492, stopped at the Canary Islands on August 12, 1492, and then continued westward. Landfall was made in the Bahamas at dawn on October 12, 1492.
The Niña was originally named "La Santa Clara". La Pinta as far as the crew was
concerned was "La Pintada" - "the painted one" meaning a prostitute. The Santa Maria was originally named "La Santa Gallega", derived from the name of a prostitute called Maria Galante. The Roman Catholic Church was not amused and censored these names - and so it was the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria which sailed into history.
(The full name given to the Santa Maria was "La Santa Maria de la Immaculada Conception" but that
was a bit of a mouth full hence "Santa Maria").
La Niña, La Santa Maria and La Pinta
For anyone interested in building this model themselves it can be purchased for US $7.95 (€7.00) from the following website:
To purchase a model, once you enter the website follow the instructions given which also require you
to register with your email address and a password of your choice. You will then be informed that you
will receive an acknowledgement email containing further information. After I registered as per instructions
I did not receive this email. To my surprise a couple of days later I received an email from the webmaster
informing me that sometimes (depending on your internet browser) registering glitches occur and that
he had therefore manually registered me. If you experience similar problems then send an email to :
and you will promptly receive assistance
However before you register be aware that the only method of payment normally accepted by Fiddlersgreen is by Paypal. On completion of payment you will be able to download the model's PDF sheets.
As far as the model of the Niña is concerned it consists of six PDF sheets. At first glance you would think
that the model is relatively simple to build - there are relatively few parts when compared to other ship
models I can think of but be aware that construction entails "using your brain" to think about how you
are going to proceed because there are very few instructions included. You have to plan ahead from the
The hull and decks can thereafter be relatively quickly built up. You will need to make the masts and lateen sail supports/yards from wood using the mast templates provided (e.g. Schashlik/Barbecue sticks or buy "made to measure" from hobby shops). The rake of the three masts should also be observed beforehand and the rigging which also supports the lateen yards although appearing simple again entails "observe the
photos and plan ahead".
What attracted me to the model were the graphics involved which give the ship a very pleasing look.
When printing out the PDFs before construction, I had no card stock left and therefore printed each sheet out on standard DIN A4 inkjet printer paper. I then had to cut out each individual part and glue it to
another single sheet to make-up the thickness (apart from the single-sheet sails and flags) - not the ideal solution but the result is still pretty good.
The Niña model was designed by Richard Dery. The Pinta and Santa Maria by the same designer can
also be obtained from Fiddlersgreen. Two more points:
Having spent so much time and effort to build such a ship model, you will want to protect it from damage.
Paper models and especially ship models are inherently prone to damage. An inadvertent sweep of the hand, a moment's unconcentration results often in irrepairable destruction. If you want your model to survive you will need to protect it within a display case/vitrine which will also keep it dust and cobweb free.
However, a made to measure "glass-clear" Acrylic case to contain the Niña will cost around 40 to 50 US $
- roughly seven times the amount paid for the PDFs of the model.
The final point: The only affiliation that I have with Fiddlersgreen is that I am just a normal registered customer.