From The Log of Christopher Columbus:


He sailed on his course to the west. They went 25 leagues and he computed to the people 20 leagues. They had a great shower. To-day the pilot of the Admiral at the coming of day feared that they had gone from the island of Hierro, 578 leagues westward to this place. The lesser account which the Admiral showed to the people was 584 leagues; but the true account, which the Admiral judged to be correct and kept secret, was 707 leagues.


He sailed on his way to the west 39 leagues during the day and night, and told the people about 30 leagues; with the sea continually calm and favourable. Many thanks be given God, said the Admiral here. Grass came from the east to the west, contrary to what had happened before. Many fish appeared: one was killed. They saw a white bird which appeared to be a gull.


He sailed on his customary route and they went 47 leagues. He told the people 40 leagues. Petrels appeared, a great quantity of grass, some very old and some very fresh, and it bore a kind of fruit, and they saw 110 birds. The Admiral believed that the islands he had drawn on his chart lay back of them. The Admiral says here, that he did not wish to remain beating about, the past week and those days when there were so many signs of land, although he had information about certain islands in that region,--in order not to be delayed, as his object was to reach the Indies: and if he had delayed, he says it would not have been good judgment.


He sailed on his way to the west and they went during the day and night 63 leagues. He told the people 46 leagues. More than 40 petrels came to the ship together, and two pelicans, and a youth on board the caravel hit one with a stone. A frigate-pelican came to the vessel and a white bird like a gull.


He sailed on his course, going about 11 miles an hour. They went about 57 leagues during the day and night, as the wind abated somewhat at night. He counted to his people 45 leagues. The sea was pleasant and calm. Many thanks, he says, be given to God. The breeze was very soft and temperate. No grass, many petrels. Many flying-fish flew on to the ship.


He sailed on his course to the west and they went 40 leagues during the day and night. He told the people 33 leagues. This night, Martin Alonso said that it would be well to sail to the south-west, quarter west {a la cuarta del Oueste, a la parte del Sudueste}. And it appeared to the Admiral that Martin Alonso did not say this in order to go to the island of Cipango. And the Admiral saw that if they missed their way, they would not be able to find land so quickly, and that it was better to go to the continental land at once, and afterwards to the islands.


He sailed on his way to the west. They went 12 miles per hour for two hours, and afterwards 8 miles per hour, and they went 23 leagues up to one hour after sunrise: he told the people 18. On this day at sunrise, as they were all sailing as fast as possible in order to see land first and enjoy the reward which the Sovereigns had promised to whomever should first see land, the caravel Nina which was ahead on account of being a fast sailor, raised a banner on top of the mast and fired a lombard as a signal that they saw land, because the Admiral had ordered this to be done. He had also ordered that the vessels should all unite at sunrise and sunset, because these two times are more suitable for seeing a long distance on account of the disappearance of the mists. As in the afternoon the people on the Nina did not see land, which they thought they had seen and as a great multitude of birds passed from the north to the south-west, for which cause it was reasonable to believe that they were going to sleep on land or were perhaps flying from winter which must be approaching in the countries from whence they came, as the Admiral knew that the Portuguese discovered the greater part of the islands in their possession by the birds:--For these reasons the Admiral resolved to change his course from the west, and turn his prow to the west-south-west, with the determination of pursuing that course for two days. He began this course one hour before sunset. During all the night they went about 5 leagues, and 23 during the day: they went in all 28 leagues during the night and day.


He sailed to the west-south-west and they went about 11 1/2 or 12 leagues and from time to time it appears that they went 15 miles per hour during the night, if the account is not mendacious. The sea was like the River of Seville, thanks to God, says the Admiral. The breezes were very soft as at Seville in April and it is a pleasure to be there, they are so fragrant. The grass appeared very fresh. There were many small land-birds and they took one which was flying to the south-west. There were jays, ducks, and a pelican.


He sailed to the south-west and went five leagues. The wind changed and he ran to the west, quarter north-west and went four leagues. Afterwards in all he went 11 leagues by day and 20 1/2 leagues by day and night. He told the people 17 leagues. All night they heard birds passing.


He sailed to the west-south-west and they went at the rate of 10 miles per hour and at times 12, and sometimes 7, and during the day and night they made 59 leagues. He told the people 44 leagues and no more. Here the people could no longer suffer the journey. They complained of the long voyage: but the Admiral encouraged them as well as he was able, giving them good hope of the benefits they would receive, and adding that for the rest it was useless to complain since he had come in search of the Indies, and thus he must pursue his journey until he found them, with the aid of our Lord.


He sailed to the west-south-west. They had a much higher sea than they had had in all the voyage. They saw petrels and a green branch near the ship. Those on the caravel Pinta saw a reed and a stick and they took another small stick formed as it appeared with iron, and a piece of a reed and other grass which grows on land, and a small board. Those on the caravel Nina also saw other indications of land and a little branch full of dog-roses. With these signs every one breathed and rejoiced. They went 27 leagues during this day up to sunset.

After sunset he sailed on his first course to the west. They went 12 miles each hour and up to two hours after midnight they went about 90 miles which are 22 1/2 leagues. And because the caravel Pinta was the best sailor and was going ahead of the Admiral, land was discovered by her people and the signs which the Admiral had ordered were made. A sailor called Rodrigo de Traina saw this land first, although the Admiral at 10 o'clock at night being in the stern forecastle {castillo de popa} saw a light, but it was so concealed that he would not declare it to be land: but he called Pero Gutierrez Groom of the Chamber of the King, and said to him that it appeared to be a light, and asked him to look at it: and he did so and saw it. He also told Rodrigo Sanchez de Segovia, whom the King and Queen sent with the fleet as Inspector, who saw nothing because he was not where he could see it. After the Admiral told it, it was seen once or twice, and it was like a small wax candle which rose and fell, which hardly appeared to be an indication of land. But the Admiral was certain that they were near land. For this reason, when they said the Salve which all the sailors are in the habit of saying and singing in their way and they were all assembled together, the Admiral implored and admonished them to guard the stern forecastle well and search diligently for land and said that to whomever should first see land he would then give a silk doublet, besides the other gifts which the Sovereigns had promised them, which was an annuity of 10,000 maravedis to whomever should first see land. At two hours after midnight the land appeared, from which they were about two leagues distant. They lowered all the sails and remained with the cross-jack-sail, which is the great sail without bonnets, and lay to, standing off and on until the day, Friday, when they reached a small island of the Lucayas, which is called in the language of the Indians, Guanahani. Then they saw naked people and the Admiral landed in the armed boat with Martin Alonso Pinzon and Vincente Yafiez, his brother, who was captain of the Nina. The Admiral took the royal banner and the two captains had two banners of the Verde Cruz, which the Admiral carried on all the ships as a sign, with an F. and a Y. The crown of the Sovereigns surmounted each letter and one was one side of the + and the other the other side. Having landed they saw very green trees and much water and many fruits of different kinds. The Admiral called the two captains and the others who landed and Rodrigo Descoredo, Notary of all the Fleet, and Rodrigo Sanchez of Segovia, and told them to hear him witness and testify that he, in the presence of them all, was taking, as in fact he took possession of the said isle, for the King and for the Queen, his Lords, making the protestations which were required, as contained more at length in the depositions which were made there in writing. Then many of the people of the island gathered there. The following is in the exact words of the Admiral in his book of his first voyage and discovery of these Indies:

"That they might feel great friendship for us {he says} and because I knew they were a people who would better be freed and converted to our Holy Faith by love than by force,--I gave them some red caps and some glass beads which they placed around their necks, and many other things of small value with which they were greatly pleased, and were so friendly to us that it was wonderful. They afterwards came swimming to the two ships where we were, and bringing us parrots and cotton thread wound in balls and spears and many other things, and they traded them with us for other things which we gave them, such as small glass beads and hawk's bells. Finally they took everything and willingly gave what things they had. Further, it appeared to me that they were a very poor people, in everything. They all go naked as their mothers gave them birth, and the women also, although I only saw one of the latter who was very young, and all those whom I saw were young men, none more than thirty years of age. They were very well built with very handsome bodies, and very good faces. Their hair was almost as coarse as horses' tails and short, and they wear it over the eyebrows, except a small quantity behind, which they wear long and never cut. Some paint themselves blackish, and they are of the colour of the inhabitants of the Canaries, neither black nor white, and some paint themselves white, some red, some whatever colour they find: and some paint their faces, some all the body, some only the eyes, and some only the nose. They do not carry arms nor know what they are, because I showed them swords and they took them by the edge and ignorantly cut themselves. They have no iron: their spears are sticks without iron, and some of them have a fish's tooth at the end and others have other things. They are all generally of good height, of pleasing appearance and well built: I saw some who had indications of wounds on their bodies, and I asked them by signs if it was that, and they showed me that other people came there from other islands near by and wished to capture them and they defended themselves: and I believed and believe, that they come here from the continental land to take them captive. They must be good servants and intelligent, as I see that they very quickly say all that is said to them, and I believe that they would easily become Christians, as it appeared to me that they had no sect. If it please our Lord, at the time of my departure, I will take six, of them from here to your Highnesses that they may learn to speak. I saw no beast of any kind except parrots on this island." All are the words of the Admiral.


"At dawn many of these men came to the shore, all young men as I have said and all of good height, a very handsome people. Their hair is not curly but hanging and coarse like horsehair, and all the forehead and head is very wide, more than any other race seen until now, and their eyes are very handsome and not small. And none of them are blackish hut the colour of the inhabitants of the Canaries nor should anything else be expected since this place is on a line east and west with the island of Hierro in the Canaries. Their legs are in general very straight and they are not corpulent, but very well formed. They came to the ship with canoes, which are made from the trunk of a tree, like a long boat and all in one piece, and very wonderfully fashioned for the country, and large enough so that 40 or 45 men came In some of them, and others were smaller, some so small that only one man came in them. They rowed with a paddle {como de fornero} and go wonderfully well; and if they upset, then they all commence to swim and bail them out with gourds, which they carry. They brought balls of spun cotton and parrots and spears and other small things which it would be tedious to write about, and gave everything for whatever might be given them. And I was attentive and sought to learn whether they had gold and I saw that some of them wore a small piece suspended from a hole they have in the nose: and I was able to understand by signs that, going to the south or going around the island to the south, there was a King who had large vessels of gold and who had a great deal of it. I tried to have them go there and afterward saw that they were not interested in going. I determined to wait until afternoon of the next day and then leave for the south-west, for according to what many of them showed me, they said that there was land to the south and to tile south-west and to the north-west: and that these people from the north-west came to fight them many times and thus to go to the south-west in search of gold and precious stones. This island is very large and very level and has very green trees and many waters and a very large lake in the centre, without any mountain, and all so green that it is a pleasure to behold it. The people are very mild and on account of desiring our things, believing that they will not be given them without they give something, and they have nothing,--they take what they can. and then throw themselves into the water and swim. But they give all they have for whatever thing may be given them. They traded for even pieces of pitchers and broken glasses so that I saw 16 balls of cotton given for three ceotis of Portugal which are worth one blanca of Castile, and in the balls there would be more than an arroba of spun cotton. I forbade this and would not allow anything to be taken unless I should order everything taken for your Highnesses if there is a quantity. It cotton grows here on this island, but on account of brevity of time I could not give an account of everything: and also the gold which they wear hanging at the nose is found here. But in order not to lose time I wish to go and see it I can encounter the island of Cipango. Now, as it was night, all went to land with their canoes.


"At dawn, I ordered the ship's small boat prepared and the boats belonging to the caravels and went along the island toward the north-north-east to see the other part of it, which was the opposite part from the east and also to see the villages: and I saw then two or three, and the people all came to the shore calling us and giving thanks to God; some brought us water, others brought other things to eat. Others when they saw that I did not care to land threw themselves into the sea and came swimming and we understood that they asked us if we came from heaven. An old man came in to the boat and the others called loudly to all the men and women: Come and see the men who came from heaven: bring them something to eat and drink. Many came and many women, each one with something, giving thinks to God, throwing themselves on the ground and lifting their hands toward heaven, and afterwards they called loudly to us to go to land; but I was afraid because of seeing a great reef of rocks which encircles all that island and the water is deep within and forms a port for as many ships as there are in Christendom: and the entrance to it is very tortuous. It is true there are some shoals in it, but the sea does not move any more than in a well. And I went this morning in order to see all this, that I might be able to give an account of everything to your Highnesses and also to see where I might be able to build a fortress, and I saw a piece of land formed like an island, although it is not one, on which there were six houses, but which could be made an island in two days. Although I do not believe it to be necessary, because this people are very simple in matters of arms, as your Highnesses will see by the seven which I took captive to be carried along and learn our speech and then be returned to their country. But when your Highnesses order it, all can be taken, and carried to Castile or held captives on the island itself, because with 50 men all can be subjugated and made to do everything which is desired. Then, near the said small island, there were orchards of trees, the most beautiful that I saw, and as green and with leaves like those of Castile in the months of April and May, and there was much water. I saw all that harbour and afterward I returned to the ship and made sail and saw so many islands that I could not decide which to visit first, and those men whom I had taken, told me by signs, that there were many, and so many that they could not be numbered, and they enumerated by their names more than one hundred. Therefore I looked for the largest and determined to go to it, and this I am doing. It may be five leagues distant from this island of San Salvador, and some of the others are farther from it, some not as far. All are very level without mountains and very fertile and all inhabited, and the inhabitants make war against each other although they are very simple and fine looking men."


"I had been standing off and on this night for fear of not reaching land to anchor before morning, not knowing whether the coast was free from shoals or not, and so as to be able to hoist the sails at dawn. And as the island might be more than five leagues distant, rather it was about seven leagues, and the tide detained me, it was about mid-day when I reached the said island; and I found that the side which is toward San Salvador runs north and south a distance of five leagues, and the other side which I followed extended east and west a distance of more than ten leagues. And as from this island I saw another larger one to the west, I hoisted the sails in order to go all that day until night, because I would not have been able to go even as far as the point at the west: to this island I gave the name of the Isla de Santa Maria de la Concepcion, and almost at sunset I anchored near the said Cape to learn if there was gold there, because the natives whom I had caused to be taken on the island of San Salvador told me that the people there wore very large golden bracelets on the legs and arms. I quite believe that everything they said was a hoax in order to flee, Nevertheless my intention was, not to pass by any island of which I did not take possession, although having taken one, it could not be said that all were taken: and I anchored and remained there until to-day, Tuesday, when at dawn I went to land with the boats armed and I landed, and those people, who were many and as naked and of the same condition as those of the other island of San Salvador, allowed us to go on the island and gave us what we asked of them. And because the wind blew across strongly from the south-east, I would not remain there and left for the ship, and there was a large canoe beside the caravel Nina and one of the men from the island of San Salvador who was on board the caravel threw himself into the sea and went away in the canoe, and the night before at midnight, the other having thrown {blank in original} and went after the canoe, which fled {a medio echado el otro...y fue atras la almadia, la qual fugoi} so that there never was a boat which could overtake it, although we followed it a long way. Nevertheless he gained the land and they left the canoe, and some of my company went on land after them and all scattered like chickens, and we took the canoe which they had left, alongside the caravel Nina, where already there was coming from another point another small canoe with a man who came to barter a ball of cotton; and some sailors threw themselves into the sea and took him, because he would not enter the caravel: and I, being on the poop of the ship, saw everything and sent for him and gave him a red bonnet and some small beads of green glass which I put on his arm and two hawk's bells, which I put in his ears, and I ordered his canoe, which also was in the boat, to be returned to him and I sent him to land: and I made sail then in order to go to the other large island which I saw to the west, and I ordered the other canoe, which the caravel Nina was towing at the stern, to be loosened and I afterwards watched the shore at the time of the landing of the other Indian to whom I had given the aforesaid things and from whom I did not take the ball of cotton, although he wished to give it to me: and all the others went to him and he wondered greatly and it appeared to him that we were very good people and that the other Indian who had fled had done us some injury, and that we were taking him on this account: and it was for this purpose that I pursued this conduct with him and ordered him set at liberty and gave him the said things, in order that they should hold us in this esteem and that another time when your Highnesses send here again they may not receive your people badly: and all that I gave them was not worth four maravedis. And thus I departed, which might be at 10 o'clock, with the wind south-east and inclining toward south, in order to go to this other island which is very large and where all these men whom I am bringing from the island of San Salvador make signs that there is a great deal of gold and that they wear bracelets of it on their arms and on their legs and in their ears and in their noses and on their breasts. And it was nine leagues from this island of Santa Maria to this other island east to west, and all this part of the island runs north-west to south-east. And it appears that there might well be more than 28 leagues of this coast on this side. And it is very level without any mountain, the same as the coasts of the islands of San Salvador and Santa Maria and all the coasts are free from rocks, except that all have some rocks under water near the land, on account of which it is necessary to keep the eyes open when desirous of anchoring, and not to anchor very near land, although the waters are always very clear and the bottom can be seen. And at a distance of two lombard shots from all those islands the water is so deep that the bottom cannot be reached. These islands are very green and fertile and the breezes are very soft and there may be many things which I do not know, because I did not wish to stop, in order to discover and search many islands to find gold. And since these people make signs thus, that they wear gold on their arms and legs,--and it is gold, because I showed them some pieces which I have,--I cannot fail with the aid of our Lord, in finding it where it is native. And being in the middle of the gulf between these two islands, that is to say, the island of Santa Maria and this large one, which I named Fernandina, I found a man alone in a canoe who was going from the island of Santa Maria to Fernandina, and was carrying a little of his bread which might have been about as large as the fist, and a gourd of water, and a piece of reddish earth reduced to dust and afterwards kneaded, and some dry leaves I which must be a thing very much appreciated among them because they had already brought me some of them as a present at San Salvador: and he was carrying a small basket of their kind, in which he had a string of small glass beads and two blancas, by which I knew that he came from the island of San Salvador, and had gone from there to Santa Maria and was going to Fernandina. He came to the ship: I caused him to enter it, as he asked to do so, and I had his canoe placed on the ship and had everything which he was carrying guarded: and I ordered that bread and honey be given him to eat and something to drink. And I will go to Fernandina thus and will give him everything which belongs to him, that he may give good reports of us. So that, when your Highnesses send here, our Lord pleasing, those who come may receive honour and the Indians will give them of everything which they have."

Columbus's Log: October, 1492 continued

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