During this voyage, and indeed in all the four voyages which he made from Spain to the West Indies, the admiral was very careful to keep an exact journal of every occurrence which took place.
Continuing Columbus Discovers America,
our selection from The Life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus by His Son Ferdinand by Ferdinand Columbus published in . The selection is presented in 6 easy 5 minute installments. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
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Place: San Salvador Island
All the conditions which the admiral demanded being conceded by their Catholic majesties, he set out from Granada on May 21, 1492, for Palos, where he was to fit out the ships for his intended expedition. That town was bound to serve the crown for three months with two caravels, which were ordered to be given to Columbus; and he fitted out these and a third vessel with all care and diligence. The ship in which he personally embarked was called the Santa Maria; the second vessel, named the Pinta, was commanded by Martin Alonso Pinzon; and the third, named the Nina, which had square sails, was under the command of Vincent Yanez Pinzon, the brother of Alonso, both of whom were inhabitants of Palos. Being furnished with all necessaries, and having ninety men to navigate the three vessels, Columbus set sail from Palos on August 3, 1492, shaping his course directly for the Canaries.
During this voyage, and indeed in all the four voyages which he made from Spain to the West Indies, the admiral was very careful to keep an exact journal of every occurrence which took place; always specifying what winds blew, how far he sailed with each particular wind, what currents were found, and everything that was seen by the way, whether birds, fishes, or any other thing. Although to note all these particulars with a minute relation of everything that happened, showing what impressions and effects answered to the course and aspect of the stars, and the differences between the seas which he sailed and those of our countries, might all be useful; yet, as I conceive that the relation of these particulars might now be tiresome to the reader, I shall only give an account of what appears to me necessary and convenient to be known.
On Saturday, August 4th, the next day after sailing from Palos, the rudder of the Pinta broke loose. The admiral strongly suspected that it was occasioned by the contrivance of the master on purpose to avoid proceeding on the voyage, which he had endeavored to do before they left Spain, and he therefore ranged up alongside of the disabled vessel to give every assistance in his power, but the wind blew so hard that he was unable to afford any aid. Pinzon, however, being an experienced seaman, soon made a temporary repair by means of ropes, and they proceeded on their voyage. But on the following Tuesday, the weather becoming rough and boisterous, the fastenings gave way, and the squadron was obliged to lay to for some time to renew the repairs. From this misfortune of twice breaking the rudder, a superstitious person might have foreboded the future disobedience of Pinzon to the admiral; as through his malice the Pinta twice separated from the squadron, as shall be afterward related. Having applied the best remedy they could to the disabled state of the rudder, the squadron continued its voyage, and came in sight of the Canaries at daybreak of Thursday, August 9th; but owing to contrary winds, they were unable to come to anchor at Gran Canaria until the 12th. The admiral left Pinzon at Gran Canaria to endeavor to procure another vessel instead of that which was disabled, and went himself with the Niña on the same errand to Gomera.
The admiral arrived at Gomera on Sunday, August 12th, and sent a boat on shore to inquire if any vessel could be procured there for his purpose. The boat returned next morning, and brought intelligence that no vessel was then at that island, but that Doña Beatrix de Bobadilla, the proprietrix of the island, was then at Gran Canaria in a hired vessel of forty tons belonging to one Gradeuna of Seville, which would probably suit his purpose and might perhaps be got. He therefore determined to await the arrival of that vessel at Gomera, believing that Pinzon might have secured a vessel for himself at Gran Canaria, if he had not been able to repair his own. After waiting two days, he despatched one of his people in a bark which was bound from Gomera to Gran Canaria, to acquaint Pinzon where he lay, and to assist him in repairing and fixing the rudder. Having waited a considerable time for an answer to his letter, he sailed with the two vessels from Gomera on August 23d for Gran Canaria, and fell in with the bark on the following day, which had been detained all that time on its voyage by contrary winds. He now took his man from the bark, and, sailing in the night past the island of Teneriffe, the people were much astonished at observing flames bursting out of the lofty mountain called El Pico (or the Peak of Teneriffe). On this occasion the admiral was at great pains to explain the nature of this phenomenon to the people by instancing the example of Aetna and several other known volcanoes.
Passing by Teneriffe, they arrived at Gran Canaria on Saturday, August 25th, and found that Pinzon had only got in there the day before. From him the admiral was informed that Doña Beatrix had sailed for Gomera on the 20th with the vessel which he was so anxious to obtain. His officers were much troubled at the disappointment; but he, who always endeavored to make the best of every occurrence, observed to them that since it had not pleased God that they should get this vessel it was perhaps better for them, as they might have encountered much opposition in pressing it into the service, and might have lost a great deal of time in shipping and unshipping the goods. Wherefore, lest he might again miss it if he returned to Gomera, he resolved to make a new rudder for the Pinta at Gran Canaria, and ordered the square sails of the Nina to be changed to round ones, like those of the other two vessels, that she might be able to accompany them with less danger and agitation.
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