The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

late parching weather had opened the seams of his ships, and caused them to leak excessively, so that it was necessary to seek a harbor as soon as possible, where they might be refitted. Much of the provisions also was spoiled, and the water nearly exhausted. He kept on therefore directly to the west, trusting, from the flights of birds and other favorable indications, he should soon arrive at land. Day after day passed away without his expectations being realized. The distresses of his men became continually more urgent; wherefore, supposing himself in the longitude of the Caribbee Islands, he bore away toward the northward in search of them.*

On the 31st of July there was not above one cask of water remaining in each ship, when, about midday, a mariner at the masthead beheld the summits of three mountains rising above the horizon, and gave the joyful cry of land. As the ships drew nearer it was seen that these mountains were united at the base. Columbus had determined to give the first land he should behold the name of the Trinity. The appearance of these three mountains united into one struck him as a singular coincidence; and, with a solemn feeling of devotion, he gave the island the name of La Trinidad, which it bears at the present day.


CHAPTER II.
VOYAGE THROUGH THE GULF OF PARIA.

[ 1498.]

Shaping his course for the island, Columbus approached its eastern extremity, to which he gave the name of Punta de la Galera, from a rock in the sea, which resembled a galley under sail. He was obliged to coast for five leagues along the southern shore before he could find safe anchorage. On the following day (August 1), he continued coasting westward in search of water and a convenient harbor where the vessels might be careened. He was surprised at the verdure and fertility of the country, having expected to find it more parched and sterile as he approached the equator; whereas he beheld groves of

____________________
*
Hist. del Almirante, cap. 7.
Ibid., ubi sup.

-371-

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