Columbus Diary Essay, Research Paper
Christopher Columbus was an Italian-Spanish navigator who
sailed west across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a route to Asia
but achieved fame by making landfall, instead, in the Caribbean Sea.
Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy. His father was a weaver, and it
is believed that Christopher entered this trade as a young man. In the
mid-1470s he made his first trading voyage to the island of Kh os in
the Aegean Sea. In 1476 he sailed with a convoy bound for England.
Legend has it that the fleet was attacked by pirates off the coast of
Portugal, where Columbus s ship was sunk, but he swam to shore
and took refuge in Lisbon. Settling there, where his brother
Bartholomew Columbus was working as a cartographer, he was
married in 1479 to the daughter of the governor of the island of Porto
Santo. Diego Columbus, the only child of this marriage, was born in
1480. Based on information acquired during his travels, and by
reading and studying charts and maps, Christopher concluded that the
earth was 25 percent smaller than was previously thought, and
composed mostly of land. On the basis of these faulty beliefs, he
decided that Asia could be reached quickly by sailing west. In 1484
he submitted his theories to John II, king of Portugal, petitioning
him to finance a westward crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. His
proposal was rejected by a royal maritime commission because of his
miscalculations. Soon after, Columbus moved to Spain, where his
plans won the support of several influential persons, and he secured an
introduction, in 1486, to Isabella I, queen of Castile. About this
time, Columbus, then a widower, met Beatriz Enriquez, who became
his mistress and the mother of his second son, Ferdinand Columbus.
In Spain, as in Portugal, a royal commission rejected his plan.
Columbus continued to seek support, however, and in April 1492 his
persistence was rewarded: Ferdinand V, king of Castile, and Queen
Isabella agreed to sponsor the expedition. The signed contract
stipulated that Columbus was to become viceroy of all territories he
located; other rewards included a hereditary peerage and one-tenth of
all precious metals found within his jurisdiction.
I set sail today with high hopes and lofty
expectations. We left shore at 8 o clock and set
our course for the Canary Islands. My three
ships are the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.
I am going to make new maps and pay close
attention to the navigation of the voyage. I also
plan to correctly map all that I pass in correct
locations by latitude and longitude. The purpose
of my venture into the seas is to reach the Indies.
24 August 1492:
On the third day of our voyage there were
already signs of sabotage. I believe Gomez
Rascon deliberately caused damage to the Pinta s
rudder. Repairs were made and I am hopeful
that no more trouble will arise. Our course to
the Grand Canary is looking good and we are
making steady progress. I plan to leave the
Pinta there, for she is leaking and needs repairs.
I hope to obtain another ship there. On the 9th
day of August we reached Grand Canary and I
left the Pinta there while the rest of my ships
continued to Gomera where we will wait for the
other ship s arrival. After no word from Grand
Canary we set sail to there to check on the rest of
the crew. On the way we saw a volcano erupt on
a nearby island, many of the men had never seen
anything like it before. I calmed them by telling
them of the many eruptions I had witnessed.
15 September 1492:
It took quite a while to repair the Pinta but
we finally got on the water. We have used up
many supplies during our stay on land. We
obtained more on our way past Gomera. The
waters were calm and halted our progress a
couple of days. I have begun to record less
miles to keep the crew at ease. After we lost
sight of land many men wept because they did not
know when they would next see land. Today we
saw a meteorite fall into the water approximately
12 miles from our location which was taken by
some men to be a bad omen. I quieted their fears
by recounting all the meteorites I have seen with
my own eyes.
19 October 1492:
Crew moral is up and our progress is steady.
Our course was off by a little so we had to
correctly alter our path. I have become aware of
Martin Pinson s independence and I am a little
troubled by it. Due to alleged sightings of land
the crew has grown more irritable than ever.
Some fearing they will not ever get home again.
My feelings of Pinzon are correct for it is he
who wants all the glory and consistently races
aged of the fleet so as to spot land first. He in
my opinion cannot be trusted. I have observed
many new exciting birds that fly near the ships.
I don t want to waste my time with traveling to
islands for I do not deem it to be beneficial to
our journey. We saw naked people with darker
skin and broader foreheads on the 12 of October.
Seeing this we went ashore. I think these
people can easily be converted Christianity. I
can t get over the generosity of these simple
people. They are so giving. I see no signs of
gold so far but I am keeping my eyes open. I
claimed many islands in a matter of a week.
18 November 1492:
The Guanahani Indians that are traveling
with us are very useful. For they know the area
very well and can communicate with the other
indigenous tribes of the region. I appreciate the
unique beauty of all the villages I have visited so
far. I have seen nothing like these small, quaint,
simple communities. At every island that I
have visited, I have planted crosses in the name
of the Lord. I planted the biggest of the crosses
at the mouth of Puerto del Principe. We did not
sail today so as to obey the Sabbath.
5 December 1492:
Martin Pinzon continues to disobey my
commands, and in his most outrageous show of
truancy took leave without my command in hopes
of finding many treasures. I reached a group of
islands. There I found a great abundance of
timber which could be made into a mighty fleet of
ships and a great river as well. This island is
perfect for a sawmill. A little farther along the
coast, I encountered Indians who wished to kill
me. With this I was not pleased, I threatened
them and went along on my way. I left the area
and I am hopeful of the land I can see just
1 January 1493:
On the day our lord was born the ship I
was aboard could not be saved. By night she
found herself on a rocky ground and sunk herself.
Me and my crew will go aboard the Nina. The
Indian village up ahead will hopefully provide us
with canoes and assistance in unloading the other
They did do this and in a most gracious way.
On one of the other islands visited by my men
and me a king crowned me with his own crown.
In order to repay his generosity I bestowed upon
him my own, necklace, ring, cloak, and boots. He
was overwhelmed and loved everything. I
continue to search for abundances of gold but have
not been able to complete this task up to now.
25 September 1492:
Very calm waters did not make for good
sailing today. At sunset Martin Alonzo
called out with great joy from his vessel that he
saw land, and demanded a reward for his
intelligence. When I heard him declare this, I
fell on my knees and returned thanks to God, and
Martin Alonzo with his crew repeated cties of
joy, as did my crew. Those on board the Nina
ascended the ship, and all declared they saw land.
I changed the actual distance to the land and I
kept two journals to keep the men at ease. The
shorter one falsified, and the other being the true
account. The sea was very smooth and many of
the sailors went in it to bathe.
7 October 1492:
At sunrise, Nina, who kept ahead on
account of her swiftness in sailing. All the
vessels were in constant competition trying to
outsail one another, and gain the reward promised
by the King and Queen by first discovering land
erected a flag at her mast head, as a signal that
she had discovered land. For I had given orders
to that effect. I also ordered that the ships
should keep in close company at sunrise and
sunset, as the air was more favorable at those
times for seeing at a distance. Towards evening
seeing nothing of the land which the Nina had
made signals for, and observing large flocks of
birds coming from the North and making for the
southwest, I concluded that they were either
going to land to pass the night, or abandoning the
countries of the north, on account of the
approaching winter, I determined to alter the
1. Morison, Samuel Eliot. Admiral of the Ocean Sea.
2. Encarta 98. Christopher Columbus. 1998.
3. www.columbus.org. !999.