Following Columbus Expedition IV.5,
12 May 2018
From Grand Turk Across the Columbus Passage and Along the North Shore of the Caicos Islands to the Break in the Reef Facing Pine Cay North of Providenciales.
Up at 6:30 with rain clouds piling up over Grand Turk. As we weigh anchor and depart Grand Turk, Destiny III receives a light fresh water rinse.
We crossed the Columbus Passage without incident electing to navigate the deep water between Phillip’s Reef and Drum Point marking the northeast point of East Caicos. From there we followed the reef north around the Caicos Islands at a safe remove.
Thanks to the work of Mr. K. A Pickering of Watertown, Minnesota, it is clear that only two islands correspond with Columbus’s description of the second island he saw the evening of 14 October and all day of the 15th. On noting that the five league [13.3 nautical mile] north-south side of Columbus’s second island faced the first landing island, Mr. Pickering accurately adds: “Of those islands that are possible landfall sites, only Plana and Grand Turk pass both of these tests.” Of all the criteria we’ve shown in the course of this expedition that Grand Turk satisfies, very few of these can be found on West Plana Cay. Moreover, because there are two Plana Cays of which Columbus makes no mention, we’re happy to accept Mr. Pickering’s gratuitous corroboration of a Grand Turk first landing. It is just under 14 miles from the southern tip of South Caicos to the northeast point of east Caicos.
By midday, Columbus notes that the north coast extends more than ten leagues [27 nautical miles]. We believe that this would place him roughly north of the center of the north shore of Middle Caicos. Columbus implies that he navigates a similar distance to find a protected anchorage in sight of a larger [or higher] island to the west. He writes:
And as from this island I saw another larger [or higher] one to the west, I charged the sails to go all that day until night, because still I might not have been able to have gone to the western cape, to which island I gave the name Santa maria de la concepcion and almost at sunset I anchored nearby the said cape to know if there was gold there …
Columbus gives a vague implication that his second island is more than one island:
Withal, my will was not to pass by any island of which I might take possession, although having taken of one, it can be said of all.
After four hours of navigation of 6 to 8 knots after noon, and after rounding the cape of the Three Maries off North Caicos, we spot a sizable island to the west. This is the high ground of Blue Hills on today’s island of Providenciales. We follow the reef to where it breaks and turn into the well protected waters off Pine Cay to anchor for the night after just under 5 hours of navigation from noon.
All in all, we can note that Columbus’s description of his approach to the second island, which Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés names Caycos, accurately matches the dimensions of South and East Caicos as approached from Grand Turk. The entirety of 15 October is spent following the coast of the second island up to sunset in an anchorage in sight of another island to the west.
Regarding Oviedo’s naming Caicos as Columbus’s second island, he attributes this information on
Columbus’s first landing to his employee, Hernán Pérez Mateos, who learned it from his cousin Martín Alonso Pinzón returning from the first voyage at the Port of Bayona in Galicia in March, 1493. Martín Alonso had ample opportunity to gain this knowledge from the three natives Columbus ordered placed aboard the caravel Pinta on 14 October.
We now have comprehensive evidence from the first two islands that Columbus first landed at Grand Turk. With this result we conclude the Following Columbus Expeditions.
Josiah Marvel sent 12 May 2018