The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

dent, he once more shifted sail, to the great joy of his crews, and resumed his course for Spain.*


CHAPTER II.
RETURN VOYAGE—VIOLENT STORMS—ARRIVAL AT THE AZORES.

[ 1493.]

The trade-winds which had been so propitious to Columbus on his outward voyage, were equally adverse to him on his return. The favorable breeze soon died away, and throughout the remainder of January there was a prevalence of light winds from the eastward, which prevented any great progress. He was frequently detained also by the bad sailing of the Pinta, the foremast of which was so defective that it could carry but little sail. The weather continued mild and pleasant, and the sea so calm, that the Indians whom they were taking to Spain would frequently plunge into the water and swim about the ships. They saw many tunny fish, one of which they killed, as likewise a large shark; these gave them a temporary supply of provisions, of which they soon began to stand in need, their sea stock being reduced to bread and wine and Agi peppers, which last they had learnt from the Indians to use as an important article of food.

In the early part of February, having run to about the thirty- eighth degree of north latitude, and got out of the track swept by the trade-winds, they had more favorable breezes, and were enabled to steer direct for Spain. From the frequent changes of their course, the pilots became perplexed in their reckonings, differing widely among themselves, and still more widely from the truth. Columbus, besides keeping a careful reckoning, was a vigilant observer of those indications furnished by the sea, the air, and the sky; the fate of himself and his ships in the unknown regions which he traversed often depended upon these observations; and the sagacity at which he arrived, in deciphering the signs of the elements, was looked upon by the common seamen as something almost supernatural. In the

____________________
*
Journal of Columb. Navarrete, tom. i. Las Casas, Hist. Ind., lib. i. cap. 77. Hist. del. Almirante, cap. 34, 35.

-166-

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