From The Log of Christopher Columbus:


He started on that day in the morning from the harbour of Gomera and took his course to go on his voyage: and the Admiral learned from a caravel which came from the island of Hierro, that three caravels from Portugal were sailing about there, in order to capture him: it must have been through the envy felt by the King of Portugal, because of the Admiral's going to Castile: and he sailed all that day and night in a calm and in the morning found himself between Gomera and Tenerife.


He was becalmed all Friday and Saturday until 3 o'clock at night.


On Saturday at 3 o'clock in the night, the north-east wind commenced to blow, and he took his course and route to the west he had a heavy head sea, which obstructed his way; and he sailed that day and night about 9 leagues.


He went 19 leagues that day and resolved to reckon less than he had gone, so that if the voyage should be a long one, his people would not be frightened and discouraged. During the night he went 120 miles which are 30 leagues, at the rate of 10 miles an hour. The sailors steered badly, falling off to the north-east quarter and even half of the quarter {a la media partida} about which the Admiral many times reprimanded them.


During that day and night he went 60 leagues, at the rate of 10 miles an hour, which are 2 1/2 leagues: but he computed only 48 leagues, in order not to frighten the people if the voyage should be lengthy.


That day they sailed on their way, which was to the west, and went 20 leagues and more, and they saw a large piece of a mast belonging to a ship of 120 tons burden, and they were not able to take it. That night--about 20 leagues, but he did not count more than 16 for the said reason.


This day, pursuing his course, they went 33 leagues during the night and day, computing less for the said reason.


This day and night, going on their way which was to the west, they went 33 leagues and computed 3 or 4 less. The currents were against them. On this day at the beginning of the night, the needles declined to the north-west, and in the morning they declined a trifle.


During that day and night they sailed on their way to the west and went 20 leagues: he computed something less. Here the persons on the caravel Nina said they had seen a jay (garjao) and a ring-tail (rabo de junco) and these birds never go more than 25 leagues from land at most.


He sailed that day and night 27 leagues upon his course to the west and somewhat more, and at the beginning of this night they saw a marvellous branch of fire fall from the heavens into the sea, 4 or 5 leagues distant from them.


They sailed that day and night on their course to the west: they went 39 leagues but be computed only 36: there were some clouds that day and it rained slightly. The Admiral says here, that now and always from this time forward the air was extremely temperate, and that it was a great pleasure to enjoy the mornings and that nothing was lacking except to hear nightingales. He says that the weather was like April in Andalusia. Here they began to see many tufts of very green grass, which according to appearance had not long been detached from the land, on which account every one judged they were near some island: but not the continental land, according to the Admiral, who says, "because I make the continental land farther onward."


He sailed on his way to the west, and they went 50 leagues and more during the day and night. He did not register more than 47. The current helped them. They frequently saw a great deal of grass and it was grass from rocks, and it came from the west. They judged that they were near land. The pilots took the position of the North Star, marking it, and they found that the needles declined to the north-west a good quarter, and the sailors were afraid and were troubled, and did not say for what reason. The Admiral knew it and ordered them to take the position of the North Star again at dawn and they found that the needles were good. This was because the star which appears, moves, and the needles do not. At dawn that Monday they saw much more grass, which appeared to be grass from rivers, in which they found a live craw-fish which the Admiral kept, and he says that those were sure indications of land because they are not found 80 leagues from land. They found the water of the sea less salt since they left the Canaries, the breezes always milder. They all became very joyful and the fastest ships went onward in order to be first to see land. They saw many tunny-fish {toninas} and the people on the Nina killed one. The Admiral Says here that those indications came from the west, "where I hope in that exalted God in whose hands are all victories that land will very soon appear." This morning he says he saw a white bird which is called ring-tail {rabo de junco} which is not accustomed to sleep on the sea.


He sailed that day and night, and they went more than 55 leagues, but he only noted 48. All these days the sea was very calm, as in the River of Seville. This day Martin Alonso with the Pinta, which was a fast sailor, did not wait for the others because he said to the Admiral from his caravel, that he had seen a great number of birds go toward the west, and that night he hoped to see land, and for that reason he was sailing so fast. A large dark cloud appeared to the north, which is a sign that land is near.


He sailed on his way and during the day and night went 25 leagues, because it was very calm: he wrote 22 leagues. This day at 10 o'clock a pelican came to the ship and another came in the afternoon. These birds are not accustomed to go 20 leagues from land. There were slight rains without wind, which is a certain indication of land. The Admiral did not wish to delay, beating about in order to find out if there was land, but he was sure that toward the north and toward the south there were Some islands, as in fact there were, and he was going between them: because it was his desire to go forward toward the Indies and the weather is pleasant; as, God pleasing, in returning, everything would be Seen. These are his words...Here the pilots discovered their location. The Nina's pilot found himself 440 leagues from the Canaries. The Pinta's 420 leagues, and the pilot of the vessel, upon which was the Admiral, exactly 400.


He sailed this day to the west, quarter north-west and half the quarter {a la media partida} because the winds changed many times with the calm they went as much as 7 or 8 leagues. Two pelicans came to the ship, and afterwards another which was an indication that land was near: and they saw a great deal of grass, although the previous day they had not seen any. They took a bird with their hands which was like a jay: it was a river-bird and not a sea-bird and had feet like a gull. At dawn two or three small land birds came singing to the ships: and afterwards disappeared before sunrise. Afterwards a pelican came from the west-north-west and went to the south-east, which was an indication that it left land to the west-north-west, because these birds sleep on land and in the morning they go to the sea in search of food, and do not go 20 leagues from land.


Most of that day it was calm, and afterwards there was some wind. They went on their way and during both the day and night did not make as much as 13 leagues. At dawn they found so much grass that the sea appeared to be coagulated with it and it came from the west. They saw a pelican. The sea was very calm like a river and the breezes the best in the world. They saw a whale which is an indication that they were near land, because they always remain near it.


They sailed west-north-west, more or less, inclining to one side and the other. They went about 30 leagues. They saw almost no grass. They saw some petrels {pardelas} and another bird. The Admiral says here: "This contrary wind was very necessary to me, because my people were becoming very much excited, as they thought that on those seas no winds blew in order to return to Spain." For a part of the day there was no grass, afterwards it was very thick.


He sailed to the north-west and at times to the north quarter and at times on his course, which was to the west, and they went as much as 22 leagues. They saw a turtle dove and a pelican, and another small river-bird and other white birds. There was a great deal of grass and they found craw-fish in it, and as the sea was calm and quiet the people murmured, saying that, since there was not much sea in that region, the wind would never blow for the return to Spain: but afterwards the sea rose greatly and without wind, which terrified them, because of which the Admiral says here: "So that the high sea was very necessary to me, as it came to pass once before in the time when the Jews went out of Egypt with Moses, who took them from captivity."


He sailed on his course to the west day and night, and they went about 14 1/2 leagues. He noted 12. A pelican came to the ship and they saw many petrels.


It was very calm this day and afterwards the wind blew: and they went on their course to the west until night. The Admiral talked with Martin Alonso Pinzon, Captain of the other caravel Pinta, in regard to a chart which he had sent to Martin Alonso on his caravel three days before, where, as it appears, the Admiral had drawn certain islands in that sea, and Martin Alonso said that they were in that region, and the Admiral replied that it appeared so to him: but since they had not encountered them, it must have been caused by the currents which had continually forced the ships to the north-east and because they had not gone as far as the pilots said: and then having arrived at this conclusion the Admiral told Martin Alonso to send him the said chart and it being sent by a cord the Admiral began to mark out places upon it with his pilot and sailors. At sunset Martin Alonso mounted in the stern of his ship and with great joy called to the Admiral, begging a reward from him as he saw land: and when the Admiral heard him affirm this, he says that he commenced on his knees to give thanks to Our Lord, and Martin Alonso said Gloria in Excelsis Deo with his people: the Admiral's people did the same and the people on the Nina all ascended the mast and rigging: and all affirmed that it was land and it appeared so to the Admiral, and that it might be 25 leagues away. They all affirmed until night that it was land. The Admiral ordered that the course, which was to the west, should be changed and that they should all go to the south-west, where the land had appeared. That day they went to the west about 4 1/2 leagues; and during the night 17 leagues to the south-east which makes 21 leagues; although he told the people 13 leagues, because he always pretended to the people that he was making little headway, that the journey might not appear long to them. So that he wrote two courses for that voyage, the shorter was the false course and the longer the true one. The sea was very calm for which reason many sailors began to swim. They saw many dorados and other fish.


He sailed on his course to the west, until after mid-day. Then they went to the south-west until they learned that what they had said was land was only the sky. They went 31 leagues during the day and night and he computed for the people 24. The sea was like a river, the breezes pleasant and very mild.


He sailed on his course to the west, and went during the day and night 24 leagues: he told the people 20 leagues: they saw many dorados, killed one and saw a ring-tail.


He sailed on his course to the west. They went in a calm, 14 leagues during the day and night. He computed 13. They found little grass. They took two dorados and more were taken on the other ships.


He sailed on his course to the west. They went 24 leagues and he told the people 21. Because of calms which befell them they went only a short distance during the day and night. They saw a bird which is called a frigate-pelican which makes the pelicans yield up what they have eaten in order to eat it himself, and obtains his sustenance in that manner only. It is a sea-bird but does not rest on the sea nor go 20 leagues from land. There are many of these birds on the Cape Verde Islands. Afterwards they saw two pelicans. The breezes were very pleasing and delightful and he says that only the song of the nightingale was lacking: and the sea was smooth as a river. In three times afterwards three pelicans appeared and a frigate-pelican. They saw a great deal of grass.


He sailed on his course to the west, and went 14 leagues during the day and night on account of the calms. He counted 11. Four ring-tails came to the ship, which is a great indication of land, because so many birds of one kind together is a sign that they are not astray or lost. They saw four pelicans in two different times and much grass. Nota: that "the stars which are called the guards when night falls are near the arm in the west, and at dawn they are on the line below the arm to the north-east, as it appears that during all the night they do not go more than three lines, which are nine hours, and this each night." The Admiral says this here. Also at nightfall the needles decline to the north-west one quarter, and at dawn they are exactly in the direction of the North Star: by which it appears that the North Star moves the same as the other stars and the needles always indicate the truth.

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