Following Columbus Expedition IV.4,
11 May 2018
Anchored at Cockburn Town, Grand Turk, Explored Hawk’s Nest Anchorage as Suitable to Hold All the Ships of Christendom in 1492, and the Ridge Where We Believe Columbus Recommended Building a Fortress to Guard the Anchorage.
Like Columbus’s fleet on the 13th of October we began the day late, did ship’s maintenance and planned our exploration of Hawk’s Nest Anchorage. Before leaving we sailed for our media team, Megan and Francois, while they flew their drone around us capturing some excellent sailing footage. Around 1 PM Captain Dave motored Destiny III through a narrow passage in the reef below the southern tip of Grand Turk into Hawk’s Nest where Captain Tim re-counted the seven islands of Babueca from the west. Columbus tells us that the morning of 14 October he investigated a capacious harbour with his longboats. We believe that this was Hawk’s Nest Anchorage and after remarking yesterday all the extraordinary matches of Columbus’s and contemporary descriptions with the actual geography of the Turks Islands, we are convinced that Columbus’s reef harbour was, in fact, this anchorage.
After having spent a week beting into 20 knot winds Dave and Tim were happy to admire the calm water of Hawk’s Nest where Columbus remarked after negotiating a reef largely surrounding his first island that:
I was fearful of seeing a large shallow ridge of rocks that rings that island to the back. And in between it remains deep and a port for as many ships as there are in all christendom, and the entrance of it very narrow. It is true that inside of this belt there are some shoals, but the sea bestirs itself not more than inside in a well.
We climbed the escarpment where Colonel Murray, Administrator of the Turks Islands at the end of the 18th century, had a cannon placed in 1790 to discourage the French from re-occupying the island as they had between 1777 and 1782. Colonel Murray’s choice confirms Columbus’s wisdom in wishing to defend this place and our identification of it as Columbus’s potential fortress.
And in order to see all this I bestirred myself this morning for that I might know how to give a relation of everything to your highnesses. And as well whither I might be able to make a fort and I saw one piece of land that is made like an island, … And then joined with the said islet there were gardens of trees, the most beautiful that I have seen and so green with their leaves like those of castile in the month of april and of may: and much water. I looked at all that port and afterward returned to the flagship …
We noted that a branch of south creek on Grand Turk parallels the escarpment which terminates in front of sandy ground which could be dug through to connect the creek with the sea and turning the peninsula into an island. The creek, now punctuated with high dead trees is also full of red mangroves whose blue-green leaves appear in contrast to the surrounding bush.
We’re now completely satisfied that Grand Turk possesses all the features mentioned by Columbus and contemporary recorders referring to the island where Columbus first landed.
Tomorrow we sail west following Gonzalo Fernández Oviedo y Valdés’s pre-1523 mention of the
island where Columbus first landed, published in his 1535 Historia:
And he arrived at them, especially that of guanahani, and stayed between it and another which is called Caycos.
Josiah Marvel sent: 12 May 2018