Little Bits of History

Chris Landed

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 12, 2012

Christopher Columbus coming ashore in the New World

October 12, 1492: Columbus lands in the New World although he doesn’t know it. Cristoforo Colombo, the Italian sailor who went west to find the Far East for Spain, was born prior to October 31, 1451 in Genoa. The Spanish version of his name is Cristóbal Colón and his English name is Christopher Columbus. He began seeking backing and funding for his westward journey in 1485 with King John II of Portugal. Although there was early hope for the trip, those hopes were dashed. Columbus then went to Ferdinand II and Isabella and received funding and backing for the trip after two years of negotiation.

On August 3, 1492 Columbus set sail from Palos de la Frontera with three ships. A larger carrack, Santa Maria, and two smaller caravels, Pinta and Niña. Three days after setting sail, the rudder on the Pinta broke. Sabotage was suspected since the ship had been pressed into service against the owner’s wishes. However, the rudder was temporarily fixed and the ships were able to land at the Canary Islands on August 9. The rudder was fixed and the Niña‘s sails were switched out from regular triangular sails for square ones. On September 6, they departed San Sebastián de la Gomera and headed west. Columbus kept two sets of records. The real mileage was kept secret from the crew so they wouldn’t worry about sailing so far from Spain.

On September 8, Columbus noticed that his compass’s needle no longer pointed to the North star. He kept this information from the crew as well. Superstitious and fearful, this added information would probably have led them to mutiny. However, after several days travel, the pilots noticed the error and the crew did become frightened. Columbus assured the men that the compass was simply pointing to a mysterious place on Earth. His reputation as an astronomer carried the day. The men did not like being away from land for so long. Most voyages of the time hung to coastal routes and sailing across the Ocean was unnerving.

On October 7 a large flock of birds was seen. Several were captured and Columbus changed his route to follow the birds, hopefully back to land. Land was sighted at 2 AM on this day by a Rodrigo de Triana aboard the Pinta. The reward for first spying land was overtaken by Columbus who claimed to have seen the land first. The first land spotted was named by Columbus as San Salvador and is in the present day Bahamas. The people living there had already named it Guanahani. The Spanish fleet sailed around the Caribbean and explored parts of Cuba and Hispaniola. The return trip began on January 15, 1493 by way of the Azores. Storms on the way home lengthened the journey and Columbus finally returned to Barcelona on March 15.

Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.

After having dispatched a meal, I went ashore, and found no habitation save a single house, and that without an occupant; we had no doubt that the people had fled in terror at our approach, as the house was completely furnished.

Riches don’t make a man rich, they only make him busier.

These people are very unskilled in arms… with 50 men they could all be subjected and made to do all that one wished. – all from Christopher Columbus

Also on this day:

Not Enough Sense to Get Out of the Rain – In 1923, Mackintosh raincoats went on sale.
Festive October – In 1810, Ludwig I married Therese – and began the tradition of Oktoberfest.
6,000,000,000 – In 1999, there were six billion people on the planet.

One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on October 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    About “Italian sailor”: He may have been born in Italy but when went to Spain he did not consider himself to be Italian and the Italian government and many others told him to go away- no relationship there at all. Easy for Columbus to give up Italy because he had exploring in his mind and heart- good for those living south of Mexico today(Spain never got into Mexico, it was France that passed on many customs to Mexico when they conquered Mexico-it was the French who had the food now called tacos).

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