From The Log of Christopher Columbus:


"This night at midnight I weighed the anchors from the Cabo del Isleo on the island of Isabella, which is on the northern part and is where I bad stopped, in order to go to the island of Cuba which I heard from these people was very large and would yield much trade, and that there was upon it gold and spices and large vessels and merchants: and they showed me that a course west-south-west would lead to it and I think it is so. Because I believe that if what these Indians from these islands and those I am taking on the ships have indicated to me by signs (as I do not understand the language) is true, it is the island of Cipango in regard to which they are telling wonderful things: and according to the spheres which I saw and the drawings of mappemondes it is in this region: Thus I sailed to the west-south-west until day, and at day-break the wind calmed and it rained, and it was so almost all the night. And I remained in this condition with a slight wind until past mid-day and then it commenced to blow again very pleasingly, and I spread all my sails on the ship, the main-sail, and two bonnets, the fore-sail, the sprit-sail, the mizzen-sail the main-top-sail and the small sail in the stern. So I went on my course until nightfall and then Cabo Verde on the island of Fernandina which the southern point of the western part of the island was north-west of me, and it was at a distance from me of seven leagues. And as it was still blowing strongly and I did not know how far it might be to the said island of Cuba, and in order not to go in search of it at night because the water around all these islands is very deep so that there is no anchorage save at a distance of two lombard shots, and the bottom is all either rocky or sandy so that one cannot anchor safely without seeing,--for these reasons I decided to lower all the sails except the fore-sail and navigate with that: and after a short time the wind increased very much and I went quite a distance without being sure of my course, and it was very dark and cloudy and it rained. I ordered the fore-sail lowered and we did not go two leagues this night, etc."


After sunrise he sailed to the west-south-west until 9 o'clock and they went about five leagues. Afterwards he changed the course to the west. They went eight miles an hour until one hour after mid-day and from then until three o'clock, and they went about 44 miles. Then they saw land and there were seven or eight islands all dong from north to south. They were five leagues distant from them, etc.


He was south of the said islands. It was all shallow water for five or six leagues and he anchored there. The Indians he was carrying with him said that it was a day and a half's journey from these islands to Cuba with their canoes, which are small wooden vessels which do not carry sail. These are the canoes. He started from there for Cuba, because from the descriptions which the Indians gave him of the size of the island and of the gold and pearls on it, he thought that it was the one,--that is to say Cipango.


After sunrise he weighed the anchors from those islands which he called Las Islas de Arena, on account of the shallow water which extends six leagues to the south of them. He went eight miles an hour to the south-south-west until one o'clock and they might have gone 40 miles, and until night they went about 28 miles on the same course, and before night they saw land. They remained quiet that night, making observations during which time it rained very hard. Saturday they went until sunset 17 leagues to the south-south-west.


He went from there in search of the island of Cuba to the south-south-west, to the nearest part of the island, and entered a very beautiful river which was very free from dangerous shoals and other inconveniences. And the water all along the coast there was very deep and very clear as far as the shore. The mouth of the river was 12 fathoms deep and it is quite wide enough to beat about. He anchored inside, he says, at a distance of a lombard shot. The Admiral says that he never saw anything so beautiful, the country around the river being full of trees, beautiful and green and different from ours, with flowers and each with its own kind of fruit. There were many large and small birds which sang very sweetly, and there was a great quantity of palms differing from those in Guinea and from ours. They were of medium height without any bark at the foot and the leaves are very large, with which the Indians cover the houses. The country is very level. The Admiral jumped into the boat and went to land, and approached two houses which he believed to be those of fishermen who fled in fear. In one of the houses they found a dog which never barked and in both houses they found nets made of palm-threads and cords and fish-hooks of horn and harpoons of bone and other fishing materials and many fires (huegos) within and he believed that many persons lived together in each house. He ordered that not one thing should he touched, and thus it was done. The grass was as tall as in Andalusia in the months of April and May. He found much purslain and wild amaranth. He returned to the boat and went up the river a good distance and he says it was such a great pleasure to see that verdure and those groves and the birds that he could not leave them to return. He says that this island is the most beautiful one that eyes have seen, full of very good harbours and deep rivers and it appeared that the sea never rose because the grass on the beach reached almost to the water, which does not usually happen when the sea is rough. Until then he had never found in all those islands that the sea was rough. The island, he says, is filled with very beautiful mountains, although they are not very long but high and all the other land is high like Sicily. It is full of many waters, according to what he was able to understand from the Indians he was taking with him, whom he took in the island of Guanahani, who told him by signs that there are ten large rivers and that with their canoes they cannot go around it in twenty days. When he was going to land with the ships, two rafts or canoes came out and as they saw that the sailors entered the boat and were rowing in order to go and find out the depth of the river so as to know where they could anchor, the canoes fled. The Indians said that in that island there were mines of gold and pearls, and the Admiral saw a good place for them and for mussels which is an indication of them, and the Admiral understood that large ships belonging to the Great Khan came there, and that from there to the mainland it was a ten days' journey. The Admiral named that river and harbour San Salvador.


He weighed the anchors from that harbour and navigated to the west he says, in order to go to the city where it appeared to him from what the Indians said that the King dwelt. One point of the island projected to the north-west six leagues from there, another point projected to the east ten leagues: having gone another league he saw a river not with as wide an entrance as the other which he named the Rio de la Luna. He sailed until the hour of vespers. He saw another river very much larger than the others, and the Indians told him so by signs, and near this river he saw good villages of houses. He named the river the Rio de Mares. He sent the boats to a village to have speech with the Indians, and in one of the boats he sent an Indian from among those he was taking with him, because the Indians already understood them somewhat and showed that they were pleased with the Christians. All the men and women and children fled from these people abandoning the houses with all they had, and the Admiral ordered that nothing would be touched. He says that the houses were more beautiful than those he had seen and he believed that the nearer they approached the mainland the better they were. They were constructed like pavilions, very large, and appeared like royal tents without uniformity of streets, but one here and another there, and within they were very well swept and dean, and their furnishings were arranged in good order. All are built of very beautiful palm branches. They found many statues of women's forms and many heads like masks, very well made. it is not known whether they have them because of their beauty or whether they adore them. There were dogs which never barked. There were small wild birds tamed in their houses. There were wonderful outfits of nets and hooks and fishing implements. They did not touch one thing among them. The Admiral believed that all the Indians on the coast must be fishermen who carry the fish inland, because that island is very large and so beautiful that he could not say too much good of it. He says that he found trees and fruits of a very wonderful taste. And he says that there must be cows and other herds of cattle on this island, because he saw skulls which appeared to him to be skulls of cows. There were large and small birds and the crickets sang all the night, which pleased every one. The breezes were soft and pleasant during all the night, neither cold nor warm. But in regard to the other islands he says that it is very warm upon them and here it is not, but temperate as in May. He attributes the heat of the other islands to their being very level, and to the fact that the wind which blows there is from the south and on that account very warm. The water in those rivers was salt at the mouth. They did not know the sources whence the Indians drank although they had fresh water in their houses. The ships were able to turn around in the river to enter and to go out and they have very good signs or marks. They are seven or eight fathoms deep at the mouth and five within. He says that it appears to him that all that sea must always be as calm as the river of Seville, and the water suitable for the growth of pearls. He found large snails without taste, not like those in Spain. He described the disposition of the river and the harbour which he says above that he named San Salvador, by saying that its mountains are beautiful and high, like the Rock of the Lovers (pena de lo senamorados) and one of them has at the summit another little mount like a beautiful mosque. This river and harbour in which he was at this time, has to the south-east two quite round mountains and to the west-north-west a beautiful level cape which projects outward.


He went out of the Rio de Mares to the north-west and after having gone fifteen leagues he saw a cape covered with palms and named it Cabo de Palmas. The Indians who were in the caravel Pinta said that behind that cape there was a river and from the river to Greta it was four days' journey and the captain of the Pinta said that he understood that this Cuba was a city, and that that country was the mainland, very large, which extends very far to the north; and that the King of that country was at war with the Great Khan, whom they called Cami, and his country or city they called Fava and many other names. The Admiral determined to approach that river and send a present to the King of the Country and send him the letter from the Sovereigns, and for this purpose he had a sailor who had been in Guinea in like manner and certain Indians from Guanahani who wished to go with him, so that afterwards they might return to their country. In the Admiral's opinion he was 42 degrees distant from the equinoctial line toward the north, but the text from which this is copied is defaced; and he says that he must strive to go to the Great Khan as he thought he was in that vicinity or at the city of Cathay which is the city of the Great Khan. He says that this city is very great, according to what was said to him before he left Spain. He says all this country is low and beautiful and the sea is deep.


All Tuesday night he went beating about and saw a river which he could not enter as the mouth was shallow: and the Indians thought that the ships could enter as their canoes entered, and sailing onward he found a cape which projected very far out and was surrounded by shoals and he saw an inlet or bay where small ship could remain, and he could not reach it, because the wind had shifted entirely to the north and all the coast extended to the north-north-west and south-east and another cape which he saw ahead of him projected farther out. For this reason and because the sky indicated a strong wind he had to return to the Rio de Mares.

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