On 12th October 1492 Christopher Columbus, in the service of Spain, set the royal flag on an island of a completely unknown world to Europe. This extraordinary adventure was due to the strong perseverance of a foreigner haunted by the conviction that the Atlantic Ocean was but a sea, narrow enough to be crossed in a few days by boat.
Christopher Columbus, son of a Genoan weaver, had been thinking about this project for 15 years and then spent eight years of his life looking for someone who could accept it. The report of his triumph lives through two documents of the time: one is the caravels log-book and the other is the touching biography of Christopher Columbus, written by his son Fedinando.
Preparations for leaving started in May in Palos, the city of Pinzon and Nino. In fact these two families supplied the enterprise with the two famous caravels: Pinta and Nina. The Pinta belonged to the Pinzon family. The third was carted by Juan de la Cosa. Columbus took the command of his small fleet and at the dawn of August 3rd weighed anchor, leaving south towards the Canary Islands. During Pinta’s first stop at the Canary Island it replaced its lateen sails with square sails.
Navigation was not at all easy: ‘Here people cannot stand it any more and complain over the length of the journey’ noted Las Casas. The fleet had been at sea for 34 days and was still sailing hopelessly, towards an unknown destination. ‘If the Captain won’t decide to sail back home, we’ll throw him into the sea and, once back in Spain, we’ll tell everybody that he fell overboard accidentally. Nobody will argue with that’, wrote Ferdinando.
Around 10pm on October 11th Columbus noticed a dim light. Nothing was told to the sailors and they didn’t notice anything. Four hours passed. Then around 2am a sailor on the Pinta perceived the coat of an island, lit by the moon.
Columbus was right! After 36 days at sea and a voyage of 2400 mile, he landed exactly as he had promised. Even so he had not reached the Indies. Columbus arrived at Watlings Islands in the Bahamas.
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