The first voyage of Christopher Columbus changed the trajectory of the whole world forever. There has never been a voyage that had such an impact on the world as the first voyage of Columbus. With three small ships Columbus found a continent that had been hidden from the rest of the world.
Spain royalty supplied Christopher Columbus with two ships the Nina and the Pinta and Columbus chartered a larger ship known as a nao, and he named the ship the Santa Maria. All three of Columbus’s ships have gone down in history as the most famous ships in the world. There were no documentation of plans on what the ships looks like or the exact size. Going off other ships of the time here is what they think Columbus boats were like:
All three ships had an open deck, where all the men slept, expect on the Santa Maria that had a Captains Quarters.
The Nina- was the smallest of the three. Maybe from 50-60 feet long.
The Pinta- was slightly larger than the Nina, they estimate around 75 feet long.
The Santa Maria- is the ship Columbus rode on. The Santa Maria ended up being the slowest of the three boats and Columbus did not love it. The Nina, the smallest of the three boat, became Columbus’s favorite ship and he ended up taking it on the Second and Third Voyage.
Like all ships built at the time, these ships were single-hull. There was only one single set of wooden planks with calking in the seams that kept them a float. There were a million things that could trash these shabby boats like termites, rocks, poor caulking, it was up to the Lord to keep them a float, not these boats:). Columbus mentions that the boats were built sturdy and soundly, for their time.
It was not easy for Columbus to fill these boats with a crew. Getting a crew for an unknown voyage is not something many are willing to sign up for. There were fears of the unknown and the survivability of the journey. If they made it to the new land, would they be able to make it back? These question and more made the boats hard to fill with sailors for this first journey.
They were a 90 men crew that sailed out of Spain with Columbus. None of these men had ever sailed this far from home before, including Columbus.
The crew set sail on Aug 3, 1492.
Columbus had few navigational tools to help him on his voyages. He was very skilled as a captain, and his skill made the journey a success. Columbus did not only want to make it to the new land, but he wanted to make it back to Spain and that meant documenting their movements. Columbus used dead reckoning both on the outward and return passages and it is said that he was 99.7 percent accurate! His ability to find is way though the open ocean with no tools and no landmarks is truly amazing!
Orson Hyde said that Moroni was helping Columbus through the Ocean to get to land. You can read more apostolic quotes here.
Columbus attributed his abilities to navigate the sea to his Heavenly Father. He has such a strong faith that he was on the mission that God intended for him, and he new it would all work out.
It appears as though Columbus kept his boats moving at a very quick pace at all times. He did not know the distance that he needed to travel and had limited supplies, so he kept things going quickly.
Blessings From Heaven
After almost two months at sea on September 23 the crew started to get worried that they would never make it to land, and if they did not turn around soon they would not make it back home either. The sea was calm, they were not moving quickly enough. Time was ticking and the crew and the captain new it.
Soon after they voiced their complaints the sea “rose up in large swells.” The boats were able to move more quickly, and prayers were answered. Columbus viewed this as a gift from heaven.
Columbus’s Men Revolting
On October 9-10 the men were going crazy. This is the longest anyone had been at sea and they were getting more worried for their lives. They were not seeing land, there had been two false land sightings and it was making the crew even more restless. It had been months now, and they did not see an end. Columbus still had faith in this journey but the men were getting louder about their complaints. Columbus promised his men that if they did not find landfall within three days they would turn around.
The group of men got more and more heated when land wasn’t being found and Columbus’s ships changed course. Because of this course change on October 7, they made landfall on October 12. If they hadn’t changed direction they would not have made landfall within the three day’s and they might have turned around! They were so close to turning around, they had made it so far but fear kept them from going that little bit further!
History is so interesting, because you get to know the end of the story. When Columbus was in the middle of the mutiny from his crew, and he did not know how much further they needed to go, he prayed, hoped and did not give up!
Because of that they made it!
There is still a discussion on where Columbus and his crew actually landed on this first voyage. Most agree that they landed in San Salvador or Waitling Island. This island is only 13 miles long and surrounded by coral reef. Columbus’s group looked for an opening in the coral, that is now called Fernandez or Long Bay.
The Ocean Sea had officially been crossed!
More Posts on Columbus:
Places to Visit:
St. George Temple-Where Wilford Woodruff did baptisms for the dead for Columbus and ordained him a high priest.
Sites around the World: