The First Voyage of Columbus

On May 12, 1492, Columbus left Granada after completing negotiations with the Spanish government over terms of his voyage. He began both searching for a crew and purchasing and provisioning his ships. On August 3, 1492, Columbus set sail from Spain with three small ships. The largest, which was Columbus' flagship, was the Santa Maria. With him sailed the Pinta and Nina and a crew of 90. Columbus' first stop was the Canary Islands, where he took on additional supplies. From there, he set sail due west.

Columbus encountered calm seas and a steady wind throughout his voyage. By October 6th, his crew was beginning to complain that they would not be able to return home since the wind kept on blowing East to west and wanted to turn back. Columbus held a meeting with the other ship captains and the decision was to continue westward. On October 10th his crew nearly mutinied, but Columbus convinced them to go another two or three days further and if land was not reached then he would turn back. At 2AM in the morning of October 12th a sailor on the Pinta sited land for the first time. On the morning of October 12th Columbus together with the other captains landed on the island spotted. They claimed it for Spain and named it San Salvador. The islands inhabitants had called it Guanahani.

Columbus was convinced that he was on island off the coast of Asia. When he met the Native Americans, he called them Indians. Columbus immediately began establishing trade with Natives that he met. Columbus explored San Salvador, and then went on to explore a nearby island, finally landing on Cuba, which he explored. Columbus was convinced that Cuba was part of the Asian mainland. After exploring Cuba, Columbus set off for the Espanola (current Dominican Republic/Haiti). On Christmas Eve the Santa Maria ran aground. Early the Pinta had set off on its own journey of explorations hoping to find gold. With the Santa Maria gone Columbus did not have enough space on the Nina to return the whole crew, so he decided to leave behind a some of his crew to create a trading post. On January 4th Columbus sailed from Espanola, two days later the Nina encountered the Pinta and together they explored more of the coast of Espanola, were they encountered their first hostile natives. When Columbus encountered a favorable wind, he set sail for the return voyage to Spain. The voyage home was a difficult, with the ships encountering heavy storms. Columbus was forced to stop in Portugal to reprovision before proceeding to Spain were he arrived on March 15, 1493.