Christopher Columbus : “I Went to Sea from the most Tender Age”
“I went to sea from the most tender age and have continued in a sea life to this day. Whoever gives himself up to this art wants to know the secrets of Nature here below. It is more than forty years that I have been thus engaged. Wherever any one has sailed, there I have sailed.” – Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus (1451 to May 20, 1506) was an Italian explorer and navigator.
He went to sea as a teenager, participating in several trading voyages in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. These voyages inspired a curiosity in learning about the unknown. What was on the other side? This need to seek answers was the driving force throughout his life. Not to mention, the excitement of discovery, as in answering questions, especially after the hardships of being out to sea.
Christopher Columbus was brave and made a great impact during that period as it was the discovery of new sights, culture, and people. Today, 2019, in this politically correct society, there are several disputes from Native Americans being in America first to taking credit from one of Spain’s best seaman and merchant in Martin Alonso Pinzon who was the commander of the Pinta. He was born in the Republic of Genoa, part of what is now Italy. In his 20s, he moved to Lisbon, Portugal, and later resettled in Spain, which remained his home base for the duration of his life.
Christopher Columbus was birthed by his mother Susanna of Fontanarossa and his father Domenico Colombo in Genoa. He was mostly self-taught through reading, and he also attended Prince Henry’s School of Navigation in Portugal. His first voyage into the Atlantic Ocean in 1476, nearly cost him his life as the commercial fleet he was sailing was attacked by French privateers off the coast of Portugal. His ship was burned, and Columbus had to swim six miles back to the shore.
He eventually moved to Lisbon, Portugal, where he eventually settled and married Filipa Moniz Perestrelo. Several years later, they would born a son, named Diego. His wife tragically passed away shortly thereafter. Eight years later, he would have a second son, named Fernando. He was unfortunately born out of wedlock with Beatriz Enríquez de Arana.
As indicated in his quote, it was his love and curiosity in opening the secrets of the world at sea. This curiosity drove him to yearn for the discovery of man’s questions of life and sea. He had to overcome the elements, and the limited knowledge of the unknown. After participating in several other expeditions to Africa, Columbus gained knowledge of the Atlantic currents flowing east and west from the Canary Islands.
He traveled throughout Europe and the Mediterranean and became an expert navigator. By the time he was 25, Christopher was made captain of a ship. Right there was when he started to come up with a plan. At that ancient time, people used to think earth is flat, as it said by Catholic theologians who insisted if you go far towards end you may even fall in an unknown area and never return. Nearly all educated Westerners had understood, at least since the time of Aristotle, that the earth is spherical.
The sphericity of the Earth is also accounted for in the work of Ptolemy, on which medieval astronomy was largely based. In Columbus’s time, the techniques of celestial navigation, which use the position of the sun and the stars in the sky, together with the understanding that the Earth is a sphere, had long been in use by astronomers and were beginning to be implemented by seaman such as Columbus.
On August 3, 1492, Christopher set sail from Palos, Spain, with three ships: the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. It was only after a long and difficult journey that land was sighted. October 12, 1492 was the happy day when he set foot on dry ground—not in Japan or China or India, but on an island in what is now called the Bahamas, in the western hemisphere.
Today we have at whim, the power of technology on our mobile devices, however in the early fourteen hundred, just the laborious work of the ship’s sails, the manpower and effort of driving those inferior ships over thousands of miles in to what seemed like nowhere. Columbus would trust his knowledge and maps but was limited based on the absence of discovery. Everything was new and uncharted territory. Just the simple tools we take for granted such as the navigational compass which should always
point north, however during their trip to the discovery of America, their route was off path due to the what we know today as compass variation (needle not pointing to the North Star or the North Pole, but instead to the Magnetic North which is a force produced in the outer liquid part of the Earth’s core, which varies in different parts of the world and is forever constantly changing). In that moment, the fear of being lost in the abyss of sea was heavy on Columbus and his crew… The truth is, after up to 20 degree variance, the needle would eventually realign with the North Star allowing Columbus to continue onto his voyage for discovery.
This accomplishment of Christopher Columbus put America on map. No ship in the 15th century could have carried enough food and fresh water for such a long voyage, and the dangers involved in navigating through the uncharted ocean would have been formidable. One way his discovery was not only revolutionary for the world but was the push through the harsh elements at sea. Such as the ability for him and his crew to eat rotten and infested with worms, ship biscuit. Meat was beef and pork cured in brine.
The men and Columbus would have to detach their senses of smell and sights due to the rancid stench of stew. But it allowed them to continue and survive while at sea. These hardships in paved the way for the discovery of culture, and the influence of maps in the new world called America. It took someone who was willing to charge into the unknowing. To convince 90 men on three ships of what may lie ahead, if in fact, they were to discover their ideas in mission. Although fearful and the possibility of death, these actions had to be performed by someone and although controversial to some, it was Christopher Columbus’ ambition and curiosity that overcame his fears to venture into areas of the world at the price of lost at sea or even loss of life, just as he almost tasted in his first voyage…
The discovery was worth the potential price to pay and this is what makes mankind special and Christopher Columbus’ discovery phenomenal and important. We needed that one person or two to land on the moon or to dive to the deepest parts of the ocean or to fly at record speeds and heights.
There must always be that one person or group that paves the way for others breaking boundaries for new adventures and discoveries on this planet earth. This fearlessness and risk taking is not only admirable, but inspiring to push beyond the limits of uncharted waters in life. Thinking about everything Columbus has accomplished, makes me feel as if we as people should follow our heart even if the possibilities could have negative consequences. Him taking a big leap of faith has us where we are today, Christopher Columbus was an adventurer in a time of great discovery, his name will always be cemented in history and famously throughout the world.