First Voyage

Christopher Columbus's first voyage

On the evening of August 3, 1492, the explorer departed from Spain with three ships. The largest ones name was Santa Maria that belonged to Juan de la Cosa and was captained by Christopher. At first, ships sailed to the Canary Islands, which at that time were owned by Castille. There he restocked provisions and then departed for a five-week voyage across the ocean. The first person to spot the land was Rodrigo de Triana, who then immediately informed the rest with a shout. The captain of the Pinta verified the sight and alerted Columbus, who claimed that he already saw the land a few hours earlier.

Christopher named the island San Salvador (Holy Savior). The people he encountered were friendly and peaceful. Columbus called the inhabitants Indios and took some of them as prisoners after noting their gold ear ornaments. He then insisted they guide him to the source of the gold. In his notes, Columbus mentioned that a lot of inhabitants had scars that were made by people who came from nearby islands to capture them. He assumed that the foreigners attempted to take Indies as slaves when those ought to make good servants because of repeating everything they heard. He also thought that then since these people did not have any religion, it would be easy to make them Christians. Primitive weapons and lack of military tactics made "Indies" an easy target to capture and govern.

Columbus at Cuba

Later Colombus explored the northeast coast of Cuba, where he managed to land on October 28. He spent fruitless weeks there in search of gold or Chinese civilization he had learned about from Marco Polo. Christopher reached as far west as Cayo Cruz, but then north winds and increasing frustration caused some changes in initial plans. His kidnapped guides indicated that gold was on another island to the east, so the course was reversed. The captain of the Pinta left the other two ships and sailed on his own in search of gold, after being told by his guides that much more gold could be found on "Barbeque" island. Columbus, however, continued his exploration of Cuba and even reached Punta Guyacanes before returning to Hispaniola.

La Navidad

On Christmas Eve, Santa Maria ship grounded on a reef and had to be abandoned. Columbus used the remains of the boat to build a fort onshore, which was named La Navidad. However, the ship couldn't hold all of the remaining crew, so Christopher had to leave 39 men behind to wait for his return from Spain.

Columbus and Pinzon

Left with only one ship, Columbus continued his way eastward along the Hispaniola coast, where he came upon Pinta. At first, the explorer was furious and angry at Pinzon but was relieved by the fact of having another ship and the long-sought gold that Pinzon managed to find in the bed of a local river.

The two ships departed on January 16 but were separated after getting in a fierce storm in the North Atlantic on February 14. Both Pinzon and Columbus believed that the other could not make it. The next day Columbus sighted the island of Santa Maria. On March 15, Christopher Columbus finally made it back to his home port after the first voyage.