1492 – Christopher Columbus’ expedition sights land in the Americas

Columbus’ expedition to the Far East was going well. He left Spain on August 3, and by October 7, the expedition sighted a large flock of birds. Finally, a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana (aboard the La Pinta) sighted land at about 2AM on October 12.

Columbus, being the shy, retiring flower that he was, later claimed that he had seen land first, which almost certainly had nothing to do with the reward of 10,000 maravedís. Columbus named the island San Salvador, although the resident indigenes had already named it Guanahani. Exactly which island in the Bahamas or Turks and Caicos this corresponds to is an unresolved topic; prime candidates are Samana Cay, Plana Cays, Grand Turk, or San Salvador Island (which was named San Salvador in 1925 in the belief that it was Columbus’ San Salvador).

Referenced in:

Dr. Livingstone, I Presume — Moody Blues
Thanx But No Thanx — Ministry

1492 – Christoper Columbus sets sail

Columbus was not the brightest of navigators. His math regarding how far away Asia was by the western route was off by more than double the actual distance. In fact, he expected to sight land even earlier than he actually did, let alone that it was the wrong land. But he sailed out of Palos de la Frontera on the evening tide, leading his tiny fleet of three ships, and quite confident in his own abilities as captain and navigator. Whatever you may think of his mathematics, you cannot deny his courage.

In the course of his first voyage, when searching for Japan, he landed instead in the Bahamas a little over two months after leaving Spain, where he introduced the natives to such European specialities as Christianity, firearms and diseases they lacked immunities for.

Referenced in:

History Is Made By Stupid People — Arrogant Worms