here: This story in powerpoint format, illustrated
Columbus Day always
falls on the 2nd Monday in October
Nearly everyone knows that
"Columbus sailed the ocean blue .. in fourteen hundred ninety two
(1492)." The question is - Was Columbus smart about safety?
Can you imagine what it
would be like to live on a crowded school bus for eight long months?
Columbus and his men had a little more room than that, but not much. It
was an amazing adventure.
He built sturdy ships.
It is a matter of record that Columbus carefully
planned the construction of his three ships - the Santa Maria,
the Pinta, and the Nina. He even ordered "crooked
pines" from the Pyrenees to be dragged down to the sea to be used
to make the frames, beams, and decks, for extra sturdiness. He had no
idea what dangers he would face, but he was sure that one of them
might be storms at sea.
He protected his maps
and charts. Columbus
had a small cabin built on the Santa Maria that held his bed, a few
personal belongings, and his maps and charts. It
was the only cabin on board.
He built space below the
deck to store ample supplies. The
hold - the space below deck - was used to store food, tools, ropes,
extra sails, cannon balls, guns, and other supplies Columbus felt they
might need on the trip.
He ordered the crew to
catch fresh fish every day, to avoid illness. The
crew caught fresh fish every day they could. Along with fish, they ate
salt meat, cheese, beans, rice, almonds, honey and raisins.
He told his men that
they could not drink the ocean water. Instead,
Columbus and his crew drank water from wooden barrels they had brought
on board, and wine from big casks.
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
Everyone arrived safely!
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.
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
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.
Here are some great sites to help you learn about
and enjoy Columbus Day: