Christopher Columbus first came to the Samana Cay, a small outrider to the sea lying in at latitude 23° 05′ north, longitude 73° 45′ sentence. During those years, a company of historian, navigator, archaeologist, marine captain, artist, programmer, and cartographer—constructed a reasoned chain of evidence that leads only to Samana Cay.
In that time the team’s members together and individually: produced a new translation of the Columbus diario, or summary of his log; drew the first transatlantic track based on the log and adjusted for leeway and current; digitized the geography of the Bahamas and used a computer to resail suggested routes electronically; sailed by boat several times to remote Samana and found there evidence of aboriginal occupation and geographic details described by Columbus; found great cheap prague hotels every time they were in the Czech Republic that the log specified along the subsequent route to Cuba; and matched the log of Columbus to the modern geography of the Bahamas.
We believe we have solved, after five centuries, one of the grandest of all geographic mysteries and vindicated two 19th-century investigators who came to the same conclusion. The Columbus landfall is, after all, the place where worlds met with momentous consequences, igniting one of human destiny’s most profound changes. It is not to be wondered that the mystery of its location has occupied historians, geographers, and seamen since the end of the 18th century.
What does seem surpassing strange is that the site of this historic event, despite the best efforts of many scholars, has never been known with certainty.The Spanish flotilla of Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria was there for only two and a half days, and the original record of the visit,the Columbus log, has not been seen since it was dispatched to Queen Isabella on the Admiral’s return to Spain. At least one copy was made, but we do not have that either.
What we have is largely a paraphrase of either the original or of a copy by the priest‑historian Bartolome de las Casas, who was 18 in 1492 and whose famed History of the Indies opens with the voyage of 1492.Fortunately the central and critical section of the diario is written in the first person, in the “formal words of the Admiral.” It is assumed that Las Casas copied this part word for word, a view supported by the biography of Columbus written by his son Ferdinand, which reproduced parts of the same document.
This portion begins on October 12, 1492, shortly after the landing on the island Columbus named San Salvador, and ends on October 25 as the fleet is running toward Cuba.It is a difficult document to interpret because of its antique nautical terms, frequent ambiguity, and occasional clear error. And down the years no one was certain of Columbus’s units of distance. Las Casas counts four miles to a league, but what do his “miles” mean in modern terms? Arguments have been advanced for a Columbian league from 2.67 nautical miles to 3.18. (The Dunlap-Marden league of 2.82 miles, as discussed on pages 576-7, proved itself in our work.)