Thirsday november 13th – Day Twelve

Thirsday november 13th – Day Twelve

Up at 6 AM for breakfast and departure from Castle Island with a stubbornly persisting north wind dropping to a flat calm. Without even thinking of hoisting a sail we motored effortlessly over a glabrous pane of indigo sea bound for Landrail Point near the northwest cape of Crooked Island. We spent part of the day studying the west coast of Long Cay/Fortune Island and finding that the island’s physiography utterly precludes imagining it Columbus’s fourth island, Saometo/Isabela.

While there are to be found pretty beaches near the southwest extremity of the island, the remaining three-quarters of its west coast lie behind an intermittent barrier reef that menaces below the surface of the sea like shark’s teeth — a perilous coast to explore with a fifteenth-century sailing vessel unless well outside the reef.
Columbus begins his description of Saometo/Isabela at the north end of the island facing an isleo. However one interprets this term (which the attached translation renders as a rocky islet), the north end of Long/Fortune faces two cays and is unapproachable by ships having a draft of six feet or more. The closest one can get to the north end of Long/Fortune with such a draft is outside the reef at a distance of about seven miles from shore.

In his Diario, Columbus describes a large all-beach bight running to the west from the fourth island’s north point. Even though the Spanish term angla signifies a cape, the Portuguese term angra signifies a bight. Considering that Columbus spoke Portuguese before he had mastered Castilian and that our copy of the Diario is at least twice removed from the original, the attached translation favours the bight of Admiral Morison’s translation over the cape of Dr. Dunn’s.

The bight that Columbus describes runs twelve leagues west from the island’s north point. Long/Fortune possesses nothing like this. Moreover, this island’s coast is unapproachable owing to its shark-tooth reef. There is nothing anywhere on Long/Fortune that remotely resembles Columbus’s description of Cabo Hermoso. Finally, of the three anchorages Columbus records on Saometo/Isabela, none are possible on Long/Fortune, there being no Cabo Hermoso, no anchorage between a non-existent Cabo Hermoso and an unapproachable Cabo del Isleo, and no anchorage anywhere near its north point facing two cays.

The complete failure of this island, when seen from the sea, to match Columbus’s description invalidates all central Bahamas landfalls.
Once anchored at Landrail Point, Crooked Island, we dined at a charming eatery owned by Ms. Willie Gibson who regaled us with fresh mutton snapper, peas and rice, zucchini, and fresh salad, topped off with a generous slice of key lime pie. Miss Willie then carried us to Pitts Town Landing where (contrary to the guidebooks’ mentioning Crooked Island’s Seventh Day Adventist persuasion) liquor was served and we were treated to much joyful rake-and scrape music by East Crooked Island’s famous Reggie and company band. The memory of Crooked Island gracious hospitality, full of joyfulness and kindness, will long remain with us.


After taking on fuel at Landrail Point, we intend to navigate tomorrow to Clarence Town on Long Island, seeking an opportunity to confirm the ironshore rocky weather coast of that island, thought to be Columbus’s third island by central Bahamas landfall enthusiasts.