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The adventure to the island of guanahani

Primary sources[ edit ] Letter of Columbus[ edit ] Upon his return to Spain in the spring of 1493, Columbus wrote a letter to Luis de Santangel, one of his patrons at the adventure to the island of guanahani Spanish court. The letter was printed widely and translated into many languages, spreading the news of the discovery throughout Europe. In the letter, Columbus mentions Guanahani as the name of the first island he discovered, but provides no other details.

Nevertheless, this single mention in a widely printed letter would have been enough to make the name Guanahani widely known at an early date. Label and islets marked within the red box. He was also a cartographer, and in 1500 de la Cosa drew a map of the world which is widely known as the earliest European map showing the New World. The Caribbean portion of the map shows Cuba and Hispaniola clearly, and a much more confused rendering of the Bahamas.

Nevertheless, Guanahani is drawn in the Bahamas in a form that appears to show a group of islets rather than a single island, lying due north of the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haitiin the central part of the Bahamas islands chain.

When Columbus returned to Spain after the first voyage, he reported to the royal court at Barcelona and presented his original log to the Spanish sovereigns. Queen Isabella ordered that the log be copied. The original soon disappeared, but the so-called Barcelona copy was returned to Columbus prior to his second voyage and was in his possession at the time of his death in 1506.

It then passed to his son Fernando and remained in his vast library for many years.

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At some point, Las Casas got his hands on the Barcelona copy and made the abstraction we today call the Diario. Although most of the Diario is written in the third-person of Las Casas, nearly all of that portion dealing with Columbus' movements in the Bahamas is in the first person of Columbus himself, and is according to Las Casas a direct quote from the Barcelona copy.

  • But he does say that Guanahani had "another part, which is the eastern part"; and to explore that eastern part, he used a boat rather than walking, which may be significant;
  • Between the reef and the island was a harbor "large enough to store all ships of Christendom;
  • It is uncertain whether it means lagoon or pond.

The Barcelona copy disappeared late in the 16th century, but Las Casas' Diario was discovered intact in 1795 by Ferdinand de Navarette and published 30 years later.

The Diario remains the most authoritative and detailed account of Columbus' movements and activities on the first voyage. The Spanish manuscript eventually was translated into Italian and published by Alfonso Ulloa, a Spaniard making his living in Venice as a professional translator. It is clear from the context that Fernando must have been working from the Barcelona copy when he wrote the portion of the biography describing the first voyage, as many details in the biography agree precisely with the Diario.

In that sense, the primary utility of the biography is as a validity check on the Diario, a test which vindicates Las Casas in many respects.

However, there are a few descriptions in the biography that are not already in the Diario. Most importantly, the biography asserts that Guanahani was fifteen leagues 45 miles long, which seems contrary to Columbus' implication in the Diario that he had seen the entire island on a single day's boat trip. Description of Guanahani[ edit ] Columbus calls the island "very flat and with very green trees", [1] which is true for all of the islands proposed by historians.

  • Leaving the harbor after two hours, he then sailed northwest rather than the previous NNW "so far that I viewed all that part of the island as far as the coast that runs east-west";
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His next statement is more problematic. He says Guanahani has "muchas aguas y una laguna en medio muy grande" [2] — many waters and a laguna in the middle or "in between" very big.

The adventure to the island of guanahani

The word laguna creates many problems. It is uncertain whether it means lagoon or pond. In any case, most of the proposed islands have either a lagoon or a pond; only East Caicos lacks one. On October 14, Columbus made a boat trip to "the other part, which was the eastern part" [3] of Guanahani.

Therefore, he went the length of the island in a north-northeast direction. Columbus noticed a reef that completely surrounded the island. All proposed islands have a reef, but the ones on Cat and Watlings do not completely surround the island.

Between the reef and the island was a harbor "large enough to the adventure to the island of guanahani all ships of Christendom. The harbor on Egg is definitely too small, although it is fairly appropriate for the impressive harbor at the neighboring islet of Royal Island, which could have been considered part of the same larger island he named "San Salvador" the other "part, which is the eastern part".

Columbus went on land and saw "a piece of land, that looked like an island, but actually wasn't one. Number of islands[ edit ] One question in dispute is whether Guanahani was one island or more than one. Evidence is said to be inconclusive. Columbus never says specifically that Guanahani consisted of more than one island, something which is surely worth noting. But he does say that Guanahani had "another part, which is the eastern part"; and to explore that eastern part, he used a boat rather than walking, which may be significant.

Landing of Columbus expedition on the island of Guanahani in 1492. Color lithograph

On reproductions of the map by Juan de la Cosawho was with Columbus, Guanahani looks to some researchers like a string of small islands. Transatlantic track[ edit ] The first way to locate Guanahani is to follow the distances and directions Columbus gave in his log. This procedure is difficult because of the uncertainties in knowing the length of Columbus' league, the speed and direction of ocean currentsand the exact direction his magnetic compass would have pointed in 1492.

John McElroy [4] was one of the first to attempt this in 1941, using a speculative magnetic chart for the year 1500 and currents from pilot charts. His vast overrun in distance was corrected by a fudge factorleaving his endpoint in the vicinity of Watlings Island. This result was substantially confirmed by Doug Peck's sailing voyage [5] of 1991. In 1986, Luis The adventure to the island of guanahani [6] of the National Geographic Society applied currents to the first half of the voyage but not the second half and determined Samana Cay as the most probable landfall.

In 1992, Goldsmith and Richardson [7] used vector average currents rather than prevailing currents along with an updated magnetic field, and found a track that ended in the vicinity of Grand Turk Island. In 2004, Keith Pickering [8] applied magnetic declinations from a more modern source and found a track that ended in the vicinity of the Plana Cays.

The actual landfall was about 35 miles from the location Columbus saw the light, so if taken that the light was from a ground-based source, then it could not have been from Guanahani, but must have been from another island farther east.

For the Plana Cays theory, the light would have been on Mayaguana. For Caicos it could have been on Grand Turk. Inter-island track[ edit ] This section possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations.

Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. June 2012 Learn how and when to remove this template message Besides the transatlantic track, the other important method for determining the location of Guanahani is the inter-island track, which can be traced either forward from Guanahani to Cuba or backward from Cuba to Guanahani.

Given the numerous descriptions of courses, distances, and directions in the log, this method seems more likely to pinpoint the location, and has been by far the method most frequently used by historians.

It was common practice among 20th-century historians to refer to the various Bahamian islands visited by Columbus by Roman numerals to avoid confusion: Following these four the adventure to the island of guanahani, Columbus next visited a string of seven or more islands in a line running north-south which historians generally agree must be the modern Ragged Island, Bahamas before landing on the north coast of Cuba.

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A successful inter-island track must therefore navigate from Guanahani to the Ragged Islands in a way that fits the descriptions of the log without serious infidelity. Strictly speaking this is impossible, as there are a few places where the log seems to contradict itself.

He arrived at Island II around noon, delayed by a contrary marea usually translated as "tide", although "breeze" is possiblere-estimating the distance as seven leagues rather than five.

Island II had a coastline facing Guanahani that ran north-south for five leagues, and another coastline "which I followed", says Columbus that ran east-west for more than ten leagues. At this point comes a contentious passage in the log: On the evening of October 16, he arrived at a cape where the coastlines ran NNW and SSW [17] though some scholars see a possible transcription error here.

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The following morning October 17 he followed the coast NNW, and when he was two leagues distant from the end or "the cape" of the island, he found a "wonderful harbor" with a small island in its mouth forming two narrow entrances. Going into the harbor with boats, he found it too shallow for use and put the boats ashore for water instead.

Leaving the harbor after two hours, he then sailed northwest rather than the previous NNW "so far that I viewed all that part of the island as far as the coast that runs east-west". These four coastlines and harbor are an essentially perfect fit with the southern part of Long Island. Columbus ran into foul weather on the night of October 17—18 and gained sea room to avoid running onto a lee shore.

He returned to Island III on the 18th, but the log does not specify where on the island he anchored that night. The following morning, October 19, he split his fleet to search for the island of Samoete that his kidnapped Indian guides had told him about. Thus the ships were able to sweep a large area of ocean in search of the island whose position was only vaguely known. Columbus's descriptions of Island IV are, at best, confusing. He describes Island IV being "on an east-west course" from Island III which contradicts his previous description of the fleet's movements in the searchand he also asserts that from the northern point the coast ran west for 12 leagues, to its western cape, The adventure to the island of guanahani Hermoso.

From Cabo Hermoso, Columbus described a "great bight" to the northeast. Further confusing the issue, Columbus then says that he believes Cabo Hermoso is on a separate island from Samoete. That attempt soon proved futile because it was too shallow, and Columbus reversed course and returned to the northern end, awaiting the arrival of the King which his kidnapped Indian guides had told him about.

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  • For the Plana Cays theory, the light would have been on Mayaguana.

After two days of fruitless waiting for the King and another day becalmed, Columbus departed from the northern end of Island IV at midnight on October 24, setting his sights on Cuba, the large island to the south he had been told about. He sailed WSW until dawn on the 24th, then was becalmed again until noon, making scant progress in the afternoon. At some point, he fixed his position at seven leagues southeast of Cape Verde, which he describes as being "in the western part of the southern part" of Island III.

Becher 1856 and forwarded strongly by James Murdock 1884. It remains widely accepted as the most probable candidate today. Cat Island was long believed to be Guanahani and identified as such on many nautical charts from the 18th century.