From The Log of Christopher Columbus:


He went this night to the east-north-east a distance of sixteen leagues and a half. During the day he ran on the same course a distance of twenty nine leagues and a quarter. The sea was very calm, thanks be to God.


He went this night to the east-north-east forty miles, which are ten leagues. To-day with the same wind in the stern he ran seven miles an hour: so that in eleven hours he went seventy-seven miles which are nineteen leagues and a quarter. The sea was very calm, thanks to God, and the winds very soft. They saw the sea so thickly covered with grasses that if they had not seen it, they would have feared it was shoals. They saw petrels.


This night going with the wind astern and the sea very calm, thanks be to God, they went about twenty-nine leagues. The North Star appeared to him very high, the same as on the Cape San Vicente: he could not take the latitude with the astrolabe or quadrant, because the waves would not permit it. During the day he navigated on his course to the east-north-east, and went about ten miles an hour, and thus in eleven hours he went twenty-seven leagues.


This night he navigated to the east quarter north-east, part of the time twelve miles an hour and part ten miles, and thus he went one hundred and thirty miles which are thirty-two leagues and a halt. The sky was very tempestuous and rainy, and it was somewhat cold, on which account {he says} he knew that he had not reached the islands of the Azores. After the sun rose, he changed his course and went to the east. He went during all the day seventy-seven miles, which are nineteen leagues and a quarter.


This night he navigated to the east and he went in all fifty-four miles. which are fourteen leagues less a half. During the day he ran ten miles an hour, and so in eleven hours he went one hundred and ten miles, which are twenty-seven leagues and a half. They saw petrels and some little sticks which was a sign that they were near land.


He navigated this night to the east, and went about eleven miles an hour: in thirteen hours of the night he went about one hundred and forty-three miles, which are thirty-five leagues and a quarter. They saw many birds and petrels. During the day he ran fourteen miles an hour, and so be went during that day one hundred and fifty-four miles, which are thirty-eight leagues and a half: so that they went between day and night seventy-four leagues, a little more or less. Vicente Anes said that to-day in the morning the island of Flores lay to the north, and the island of Madeira to the east. Roldan said that the island of Fayal or of San Gregorio lay to the north-north-east, and Puerto Santo to the east. Much grass appeared.


He navigated this night to the east: he went about ten miles an hour, and so in thirteen hours he went one hundred and thirty miles, which are thirty-two leagues and a half: during the day he went eight miles an hour, in eleven hours eighty-eight miles, which are twenty-two leagues. On this morning the Admiral was seventy-five leagues to the south of the island of Flores: and the pilot Pedro Alonso going to the north, passed between Tercera and Santa Maria: and in going to the east. he passed to the windward of the island of Madeira, at a distance of twelve leagues on the north. The sailors saw grass of a different kind than that they had passed, of which there is a great deal in the Azores Islands. Then they saw the same kind they had seen before.


He went this night three miles an hour to the east, for a short time, and then went to the quarter of the south-east: he went during all the night twelve leagues. From sunrise until mid-day he ran twenty-seven miles: then until sunset as many more, which are thirteen leagues to the south-south-east.


For a short time during this night he went about three leagues to the south-south-east, and then to the south, quarter south-east: then to the north-east until ten o'clock in the day a distance of another five leagues, and then until night he went nine leagues to the cast.


After sunset he navigated to the east during all the night a distance of one hundred and thirty miles, which are thirty-two leagues and a half; from sunset until night he went nine miles an hour, and thus he went in eleven hours ninety-nine miles, which are twenty-four leagues and a half and a quarter. On the caravel of the Admiral, Vicente Yanes and the two pilots Sancho Ruiz and Pedro Alonso Nino and Roldan shaped the course and they all passed much beyond the islands of the Azores to the east, according to their charts, and navigating to the north no one of them located the island of Santa Maria, which is the last of all the Azores islands: rather they would be five leagues beyond it and in the vicinity of the island of Madeira or in that of Puerto Santo. But the Admiral reckoned himself much out of his course, finding his position a long way behind that reckoned by the others, because this night the island of Flores lay to the north of him and he was going to the east toward Nafe in Africa, and he passed to the windward of the island of Madeira on the northern side {lacuna} leagues. Thus these pilots according to their reckoning were one hundred and fifty leagues nearer to Castile than the Admiral. He says that the grace of God permitting, as soon as land is seen it will be known who is calculating the surest. He says here also that on the voyage west be went two hundred and sixty-three leagues from the island of Hierro before he saw the first grass.


He went on his course this night twelve miles an hour, and so in all the night he counted thirty-nine leagues, and during all the day he ran sixteen leagues and a half. He saw many birds and on this account he believed he was near land.


He navigated to the east six miles an hour during this night, and went until day a distance of seventy-three miles, which are eighteen leagues and a quarter. Here he began to encounter a high sea and tempest: and if the caravel had not been very good and well equipped, he says he would have feared to be lost. During the day he ran about eleven or twelve leagues with much difficulty and danger.


From sunset until day he experienced great difficulty from the wind and from the high and stormy sea: it lightened toward the north-north-east three times, which he said was a sign that a great tempest was to come from that direction or from the direction contrary to his course. He went under bare masts most of the night: then he raised a little sail and went about fifty-two miles, which are thirteen leagues. This day the wind abated a little; but then it increased, and the sea became terrible and the waves crossed each other which racked the ships. He went about fifty-five miles, which are thirteen and a half leagues.


This night the wind increased and the waves were frightful, coming in contrary directions. They crossed and obstructed the ship which could not go forward or get out from between them and they broke on her: he carried the "papahigo" very low simply that it might keep him above the waves: he went in this way during three hours, and made about twenty miles. The wind and the sea increased greatly and seeing the great danger he began to run before the wind, where the wind took him, because there was no other remedy. Then the caravel Pinta, on which was Martin Alonso, commenced to run also, and disappeared, although all the night the Admiral showed lights and the other ship responded; until it appeared that the latter was not able to do so any longer on account of the force of the tempest, and because she found herself very much out of the course of the Admiral. The Admiral went this night to the north-east, quarter east, a distance of fifty-four miles, which are thirteen leagues. After sunrise the wind became stronger and the cross sea more terrible: he carried only the "papahigo" low, that the ship might get out of the waves which broke across her and not sink. He went on a course to the east-north-east and then on the quarter as far as the north-east: he went about six hours thus and during that time made seven and a half leagues. He ordered that a pilgrimage should be vowed to go to Santa Maria de Guadaloupe and a wax candle weighing five pounds should be carried and that every one should vow that whoever was elected by chance should fulfil the pilgrimage. For this purpose he ordered as many peas brought as there were persons on the ship and one was marked by a knife with the sign of the cross, and they were well shaken and placed in a cap. The first to put in his hand was the Admiral and he took out the pea marked with the sign of the cross, and thus he was selected by chance, and from that time he considered himself obliged to fulfil the vow and make the pilgrimage. Lots were again drawn to make a pilgrimage to Santa Maria de Loreto, which is in the province of Ancona, the land of the Pope, which is the house where Our Lady has performed and performs many great miracles, and chance selected a sailor from the port of Santa Maria, who was called Pedro de Villa, and the Admiral promised to give him money for the expenses of the pilgrimage. He decided that another pilgrim should be sent to watch one night in Santa Clara de Moguer and say a mass, and for this purpose lots were again drawn with the peas marked with a cross, and the choice fell to the Admiral himself. Then the Admiral and all the people made a vow that the first land they reached they would all go in their shirts in procession to pray in a church under the invocation of Our Lady.

Besides the general or common vows each one had made his vow in especial, because none of them expected to escape, all considering themselves lost through the terrible tempest they were experiencing. The danger was increased by the fact that the ship was short of ballast as the load had been lightened by the consumption of the provisions, water and wine: the Admiral had not provided these in sufficient quantity, as he hoped for the favourable weather be experienced among the islands, and proposed to order the ship ballasted on the islands of the Mugeres where he intended to go. The remedy he found for this necessity was when he was able to do it, to fill the pipes which were empty of water and wine with sea-water, and by this means the evil was remedied.

The Admiral here writes the causes which made him fear that our Lord willed that he should perish in that place, and the other causes which gave him hope that God would lead him in safety, in order that such news as he was carrying to the Sovereigns might not perish. It appeared to him that the great desire he had to carry this wonderful news and to show that he had been proved truthful in what he had said and volunteered to discover, caused him to feel the greatest fear that he would not succeed in doing so, and he says that it seemed to him that each gnat could disturb and impede it. He attributed this to his little faith and lack of confidence in the Divine Providence. He was comforted on the other hand by the favours which God had shown him by giving him such a victory, in discovering what he had discovered: and God had fulfilled for him all his desires, as after he had experienced in Castile so many adversities and contradictions, everything had been brought about as he desired. And as before, he had directed his purpose to God and had conducted his enterprise for Him, and he had heard him and given him all that be had asked, it was to be believed that God would fulfil what was commenced and deliver him in safety. Especially since he had delivered him on his departure when be had greater reason to fear on account of the difficulties he had with the sailors and people who were with him, who all with one voice determined to return and to rebel against him, making protestations, and the eternal God gave him strength and courage against them all; and because of many other wonderful things which God had manifested in him and by him on that journey, besides those which their Highnesses knew from the persons of their house. So that he says he ought not to fear the said tempest. But his weakness and anxiety he says would not allow his mind to become reassured. He says moreover, that he also felt great anxiety on account of the two sons whom he had in Cordova at school, as he had left them orphaned of father and mother in a foreign land, and the Sovereigns did not know of the services which he had rendered them on the voyage be had made and the very favourable news he was taking them, on account of which they would be moved to succour his sons. For this reason, and that their Highnesses might know how our Lord had given him the victory in everything which be desired about the Indies, and that they might know there were no tempests in those regions, which be says may be known by the fact that the grass and trees bring up and grow almost into the sea, and that if he should be lost in that tempest the Sovereigns might have information about his voyage, he took a parchment and wrote upon it all that he was able in regard to everything which he had found, earnestly beseeching whomsoever might find it to carry it to the Sovereigns. He enveloped this parchment in a waxed cloth, tied it very securely, and ordered a large wooden barrel brought, and placed the parchment in the barrel without any person knowing what it was, as they all thought it was some act of devotion, and thus he ordered it thrown into the sea. Then with showers and disturbances the wind changed to the west, and he sailed thus before the wind with only the foresail for about five hours; the sea was very rough and he went a distance of about two and a half leagues to the north-east. He had taken down the "papahigo" from the mainsail, for fear that some wave of the sea would carry it all away.


Yesterday after sunset the skies commenced to clear toward the west, and indicated that the wind was about to blow from that direction. He had the bonnet placed on the mainsail: the sea was yet very high, although it was subsiding a little. He went to the east-north-east at the rate of four miles an hour and in the thirteen hours of the night they went thirteen leagues. After sunrise they saw land: it appeared to them at the prow to the east-north-east. Some said that it was the island of Madeira, others that it was the Rock of Cintra in Portugal, near Lisbon. The wind changed and blew ahead from the east-north-east and the sea came very high from the west: the caravel must have been five leagues from land. The Admiral, according to his navigation brought himself to be off the Azores Islands, and believed that the land they saw was one of them: the pilots and sailors believed that they were already off Castile.


All this night he beat against the wind in order to gain the land, which he already recognised as an island, at times going to the north-east, at others to the north-north-east, until sunrise, when he directed his course to the south in order to reach the island which they no longer saw because of the very murky weather, and he saw at the stern another island which was distant about eight leagues. From sunrise until night he tacked about to reach land, in spite of the strong wind and high sea which it raised. At the hour of Salve which is at the beginning of the night, Some saw light to the leeward, and it appeared that it must be the island which they first saw yesterday: and all night he continued beating about and drawing as near as he was able to see if at sunset he could distinguish any of the islands. This night the Admiral rested a little, because he had not slept nor had been able to sleep since Wednesday, and his legs had become very much crippled from being always exposed to the cold and water and from having had little nourishment. At sunrise he navigated to the south-south-west and at night he reached the island and on account of the very dark and cloudy weather he could not recognise what island it was.


Yesterday after sunset he went around the island to see where he could anchor and get tidings: he anchored with one anchor and afterwards lost the anchor: he set sail again and heat about all the night. After sunrise he again approached the northern part of the island and cast anchor where it appeared best to him, and sent the boat to land: and they had speech with the people of the island and learned that it was the island of Santa Maria, one of the Azores; and the inhabitants indicated to them the harbour where they could enter with the caravel and they said they had never seen such a tempest as that which had prevailed during the past fifteen days, and that they wondered how they had escaped: they offered many thanks to God {he says} and rejoiced greatly on account of the news they heard of the Admiral's having discovered the Indies. The Admiral says that his navigation had been very true and that he had steered well, for which many thanks should be given to our Lord, although he made them a little beyond their true situation; but he had considered it sure that he was in the region of the Azores Islands, and that this island was one of them. And he says he pretended to have gone a longer distance to confound the pilots and sailors who steered, and to remain Master of the course to the Indies, as he had done, because no one of them all was certain of his course, so that none could be sure of his course to the Indies.


After sunset three men came to the shore of the island and called. He sent them the boat in which they came to the ship and brought fowls and fresh bread, and it was a Carnival Day: and they brought other things which the captain of the island sent, who was called Juan de Castaneda, saying that he knew the Admiral very well and that he did not come to see him on account of its being night: but that at dawn he would come and bring him more refreshment, and bring with him three men from the caravel who remained there, and that he did not send them back on account of the great pleasure he had with them, hearing about their voyage. The Admiral ordered that the messengers should be paid much honour and ordered beds to be given them in which to sleep that night, because it was late and the village was distant. And as on the Thursday past, when they were in the midst of the anxiety occasioned by the tempest, they made the vow and vows aforesaid, and the vow that on the first land where there was a house of Our Lady they would go in shirts, etc., he decided that half of the people should go to fulfil it at a small house which was near the sea, like a hermitage, and he would go afterward with the other half. Seeing that the country was safe, and confiding in the offers of the Captain and in the peace reigning between Portugal and Castile, he begged the three men to go to the village and send a priest to say a mass for them. Half of the people went in their shirts, in fulfilment of their vow, and being at their prayers, they were attacked by all the villagers on horseback and on foot with the Captain, who captured them all. Then the Admiral remained unsuspectingly until eleven o'clock in the day, expecting the boat, in order to go himself with the other people and fulfil his vow, and seeing that the people did not come, he suspected that they were detained or that the boat was wrecked, because all the island is surrounded by very high rocks. The Admiral could not see this affair, because the hermitage was behind a point. He raised anchor and set sail directly toward the hermitage and he saw many horsemen who alighted and entered the boat armed, and came to the caravel to take the Admiral. The Captain arose in the boat and asked for his personal safety from the Admiral and he said that it was assured to him. But: why was it that he saw none of his people in the boat? And the Admiral added that if he would come and enter the caravel that he would do all that he wished. And the Admiral tried with smooth words to get him to come so that he could take him to recover his people, not believing that he violated faith in giving him security, since he, having offered him peace and security, had broken his promise. He says that as the Captain had a bad purpose he did not trust himself to enter. Having seen that the Captain did not approach the caravel, the Admiral begged him to tell him the cause for his detaining his people, and said that it would annoy the King of Portugal and that in the land of the Sovereigns of Castile the Portuguese receive great honour and they enter it and are as safe as in Lisbon: and that the Sovereigns had given them letters of recommendation for all the Princes and Lords and men in the world, which he would show the Captain if he would approach and that he was their Admiral of the Ocean-sea and Viceroy of the Indies, which now belonged to their Highnesses, the provisions for which, signed with their signatures and sealed with their seals, he would show him and which he did show him at a distance: and that the Sovereigns felt much love and friendship for the King of Portugal and had ordered him to pay all the honour he was able to the ships of Portugal which he might encounter: and that even if he would not give him his people, he would not give up going to Castile, since he had sufficient people to navigate to Seville, and the Captain and his people would be well punished for offering them that insult. Then the Captain and the others replied that they did not know a King and Queen of Castile here, nor their letters, neither were they afraid, and rather they would have them know that it was Portugal,--almost menacing them. When the Admiral heard this he felt great resentment and he says he thought some differences had taken place between the Kingdoms after his departure, and he could not suffer that they should not reply to the Portuguese, which was right.

Then that Captain again rose at a distance he says and told the Admiral to go away with the caravel to the harbour and that all he was doing and had done, the King his Lord had sent him orders to do. The Admiral called on those who were in the caravel to witness this and the Admiral again called to the Captain and to them all and gave them his faith, and promised, by right of his authority, not to descend from or leave the caravel until he had taken a hundred Portuguese to Castile, and had depopulated all the island. And so he anchored again in the harbour where he was first, as the weather and wind were very unfavourable for anything else.


He ordered the ship repaired and the pipes filled with sea-water for ballast, because he was in a very bad harbour and he feared his cables might be cut, and it was so. For this reason he set sail toward the island of San Miguel, although in none of the Azores islands is there a good harbour for the weather which prevailed then, and he had no other safety than to put out to sea.


He started yesterday from that island of Santa Maria for the island of San Miguel to see if he could find a harbour in which to endure such bad weather as prevailed, with a great deal of wind and a high sea and he went until night without being able to see either one land or the other on account of the extreme darkness and obscurity which the wind and sea caused. The Admiral says that it was with little pleasure because he had only three sailors who knew the sea, as the most of those who were there knew nothing of the sea. He beat about all this night in a very great tempest and in great danger and difficulty; and that in which the Lord was merciful to him was that the sea or the waves, only came from one direction, because if there had been a cross-sea as in the past, he would have undergone very serious injury. After sunrise, having found that he did not see the island of San Miguel, he decided to return to Santa Maria to see if he could recover his people and the boat and the cables and anchors he left there.

He says he was astonished at such bad weather as there was in those islands and regions, because in the Indies he navigated all that winter without anchoring and it was good weather all the time, and that, for one hour alone he did not see the sea so that he could not navigate well, and in these islands he had experienced such a serious tempest and the same happened to him on his departure as far as the Canary Islands: but having passed them, he always found the winds and the sea very temperate. In conclusion the Admiral says that the sacred theologians and learned philosophers well said that the earthly Paradise is at the end of the Orient, because it is a most temperate place. So that, those lands which he had now discovered, are {he says} the end of the Orient.


Yesterday he anchored at the island of Santa Maria in the harbour or port where he had first anchored, and then a man came and called from some rocks which were facing them, telling them not to go away from there. Then the boat came with five sailors and two priests and an escribano {notary}. They asked for guarantee of security, and the Admiral having given it, they mounted upon the caravel and as it was night they slept there, and the Admiral paid them what honours he was able. In the morning they required him to show them the authority from the Sovereigns of Castile, in order to prove to them that he had made that voyage by authority of the Sovereigns. The Admiral felt that they did that in order to make it appear that they had not done wrong before, but that they were right, as they had not been able to take the person of the Admiral which they must have intended to get into their hands when, they came armed in the boat; but they saw that the game did not turn out favourably to them and they feared what the Admiral had said and threatened, which he intended to do and believed that he could carry out successfully. Finally in order to obtain the people they had, he was obliged to show them the general letter from the Sovereigns for all the Princes and Lords of High Degree, and the other provisions; and he gave them what he had and they went to land satisfied and then they let all the people go with the boat, from whom he learned that if they had taken the Admiral they would never have allowed him to go free, because the Captain said that the King, his Lord, had commanded him to do as he did.


Yesterday the weather commenced to show signs of becoming better, and he raised the anchors and went around the island in search of a good anchorage where he could take wood and stone for ballast, and he could not find an anchorage until the hour of "completas."


He anchored yesterday in the afternoon to take wood and stone, and as the sea was very high the boat could not reach land and at the passing of the first night watch the wind commenced to blow west and south-west. He ordered the sails raised on account of the great danger there is in those islands from remaining at anchor with a south wind, and a south-west wind easily shifts till it blows south. And having seen that it was good weather to go to Castile, he abandoned his purpose of taking wood and stone and ordered the course steered to the east, and he went until sunrise, which would be six hours and a half, at the rate of about seven miles an hour, which are forty-five miles and a half. From sunrise until sunset he went six miles an hour, which in seven hours was sixty-six miles and with the forty-five and a half travelled in the night, it made one hundred and eleven and a half, and consequently twenty-eight leagues.

Columbus's Log: February, 1493 - continued

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