Much of our information on Columbus derives from two questionable sources: Historie della vita et dei fatti dell’ ammiraglio don Cristoforo Colombo — first published (Venice. 1571) under the name of Fernando, Columbus’ natural son, by Alfonso Ulloa (thirty-two years after the presumed, and still missing, original); and historia de lad Indias, by Bartolomeo de Las Casas (1474-1566). who began the work in 1527 and completed the final draft in 1553; it was finally published at Madrid in 1875-1876. The authorship and history of these two sources has long been debated. Henri Harrisse (1872) revealed many inconsistencies and contradictions in the Historie and concluded that it could not have been written by Fernando Columbus. His argument has been largely discredited, and Alberto Magnaghi has shown in the compilation of the Historie the responsibility of an anonymous author, probably Luis Colon, a descendant of Columbus who was exiled to Oran by Charles V. Various legendary details were inserted into the Columbian tradition: Columbus’ having graduated from the University of Pavia. the mention of other admirals in his family, and an account of a voyage to Tunis that portrays Columbus as a nautical buffoon and a shameless inventor of fairy tales. He also was reputed to have made an equally fanciful voyage to lceland and beyond in 1477. One must be wary in using these sources, for dates and personages often are confused.
He ordered his men to cook their meals. All meals were cooked in small fireplaces on deck called sandbox cookers, to reduce the risk of illness. Sandbox cookers were designed to allow cooking on deck safely, without catching the wood ship on fire. He had at least one man on watch at all times. At least one member of the crew was always on watch, on the lookout for any danger including pirates, men overboard, reefs, and land. The man on watch was tucked high up on the 80-foot mainsail, in the "crow's nest." Once he set sail, it took Columbus only two months to catch his first sight of the New World. Still, that was a very long time for 90 men to live in a space about the size of a schoolbus. Yet, there is no record of any outbreak of disease. No one fell overboard. Everyone arrived safely. When they spotted land, they did not rush in. They must have been glad to spot land for many reasons. Still, they did not land right away. Columbus and his crew sailed along the shoreline. They stopped at a couple of places and established some base camps. They met the natives - some friendly, some not. His careful planning and sturdy ships saved their lives. When Columbus and his men decided to leave the New World and return to Spain, they ran into a little trouble. By then, they were down to only two ships, which made things even more crowded. A storm had wrecked the Santa Maria on Christmas Day that year. (Columbus returned to Spain on the smaller ship, the Nina. ) They ran into another storm as they were returning to Spain. They were tossed about by waves higher than a sixty foot building! The Nina and the Pinta were separated in the storm. Yet, both ships safely found their way home. The round trip, including their adventures in the New World, took eight months. Columbus was paid well for his trip. Columbus was highly respected and, thanks to his adventures, he was also quite wealthy. He was happily married. He had a couple of kids. He was incredibly stubborn. To the day he died, he never once admitted that he had found a New World. He insisted that he had, in fact, discovered the back door to China. Same story as above in powerpoint format, (cartoon powerpoint written by Lin Donn, illustrated by Phillip Martin)