"Not only is the universe stranger than what we imagine,
it is stranger than what we can imagine."
Sir Arthur Eddington

Columbus's Footprints

On the south west corner of Central Park in New York City on a very tall pedestal stands a statue of Christopher Columbus. Columbus Circle. We have been there many times. Columbus, however, was never closer than 1500 miles from that spot.

Long Island, Bahamas
Long Island, Bahamas

In 1492, Christopher Columbus came across a small sand spit of land after sailing west from Spain. Without the aid of GPS, or even a good time piece, it was difficult for his navigator to determine how far west (longitude) he was from Spain. He guessed he arrived at some small offshore islands of India or China. It was later that he learned that he ran into another continent.

The Columbus Monument on Long Island
The Columbus Monument on Long Island

It is guessed that he landed in San Salvador in the Bahamas or another small Bahama cay. He sailed around there for a while. How could he resist the beautiful clear waters of the Bahamas? We sailed the same Bahama waters a few years ago and one day climbed up to an out of the way Columbus monument on Long Island in the Bahamas. (The dirt road ended, and we had to hike that last mile to the monument). We were as close to Columbus’s footprints as possible. San Salvador, Samana Cay or other possible landing spots were not far off. Eventually he sailed back to Spain, making the first (that we know of) great Atlantic Loop Cruise: sail west down the trades, back east in the westerlies. Meanwhile, we sailed back to New York.

Marie Galante
Marie Galante

He came back three other times. The second voyage landed him in Dominica and he cruised the middle of the east Caribbean islands before going north to Hispaniola. We have sailed to Dominica on our second Caribbean voyage and who knows, maybe we got really close to his footprints! But he, like us, didn’t spend much time in Dominica. We did hike around Dominica and the island hasn’t changed much in 600 years. After one day in Dominica he went to Marie Galante. Much more pleasant island, and great French food. We had a lovely time there and I’m sure Columbus did too. Maybe we walked the same footpaths! After that, he spent some time in Guadeloupe, much like we did last year.

His third voyage landed him in Trinidad. He landed on the south eastern coast while we are here in the north west coast. No chance he landed up this way, but he did pass thru the gap between here and Venezuela. He should have stopped in for some good boat work here in Chaguaramas. Well maybe he was in a hurry. By this time, he was the “Governor of the Indies”. Unfortunately, he was a rather harsh ruler and he was returned to Spain in 1500 in chains, his reputation having caught up with him.

Trinidad
Trinidad

He was eventually released and permitted to sail a 4th voyage which landed him in Martinique, a great place to get great French food. But he was not in charge and only just there to explore. On this voyage he did step ashore, and for this one time only, was on U.S. soil. It was on St. Croix, but he did not get a good welcome. In fact, a small skirmish occurred with the locals and he hightailed it out of there pretty quickly. We did visit the same landing spot when we were in St. Croix and can state unequivocally we had a much better reception.

He sailed north to Hispaniola as a hurricane was approaching but was refused entry. As many cruisers do today, after sailing the eastern Carib, he explored the western Carib and Central America. That is something we haven’t done, yet. He returned to Spain in 1504 and died there in 1506, 14 years after “discovering America”.


So, have we stepped in Columbus’s footprints. Possibly. Ironically, Columbus is not a towering figure in the lands he explored. Recognized, yes, but not towering. But cruising in these waters now one can only imagine what he saw and experienced. Yes, it was a whole new world to the Europeans who followed. However, reading the book “1491” by Charles Mann about the people and civilizations that were here and thriving well before Columbus, gave me an appreciation of the rich history of lost societies. In other words, his footprints, our footprints, are only impressions over many others and will undoubtably be followed by many more in the future.  We owe it to those who came before us to pass their stories to those who will follow us.

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Comments

Bill,

A nice history lesson. Refreshing without political slant. We too have visited those sites and thought about the European affect on the indigenous peoples. Keep cranking out good stuff Mr. Bill.

All the best to you and Maureen

 George & Penny  10/8/2018

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SUBJECT: Hello from us to you We just read your very interesting post about Columbus. We remember well that road and the drive to see the monument on Long island. I believe we took that picture. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! How are the two of you? You both look great in all the pictures we see on Facebook. We are getting ready to start off south. We will be delivering a car to Florida in early November and then getting ready to leave. Roman has just come back from his second trip[ down to Reynold’s to do some work on the boat. Holland Marine painted the bottom of the boat and Roman is very happy with it. We needed to get the fridge replaced as it was a lemon and Roman did that as well as a dozen other little things. We will be heading down south through the Bahamas. Is that how Harry and Melinda on Sea Schell went? Please let us know if you have talked to people who have gone that way. We do not plan to go back home for Christmas. Maybe we can connect and spend Christmas together. It will depend on how quickly we can get provisioned and head out and what the weather will hold. We plan to sign up with Chris Parker and hope his advice will get us through to the islands. Very exciting for us and old hat for you. Looking forward to seeing both of you. We plan to put the boat up in Trinidad where you are. Maybe you could give them a heads up that we will need a place in the boatyard and reserve a space for us if that is needed. We have no idea of how crowded the boatyards are and if you do need to reserve a space. hugs, Olha On Oct 7, 2018, at 9:41 PM, Kalunamoo > wrote: Show In Browser

 moyamreeya  10/8/2018

 Reply

Very nicely done,  Bill

 Peter  10/8/2018

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