Columbus’ discovery of the New World
Columbus’ discovery of the New World in the 1400’s can be described as one of the most important events to take place in the history of the western hemisphere. In this piece of literature will discuss the different factors influencing sailors’ travel to the New World during the 1400’s through the 1600’s. We will discuss how the wind, currents, shipbuilding and improved navigational aids assisted sailors; we will also explore the different routes between Europe and the Caribbean designed by these sailors in 1500’s. Special focus will be given to Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the West Indies.
The trade winds of the Atlantic and the ...view middle of the document...
The ocean currents of the Atlantic traveled the almost exact direction of the trade winds and there are two specifically that flow towards the Caribbean. Sailors undoubtedly took advantage of these ocean currents probably even unknowingly. The North Equatorial and South Equatorial Currents run west into the Caribbean And practically takes the almost the same direction as the Caribbean trade winds, through the Yucatan Channel, the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Strait and finally in the Gulf stream. Sailing ships coming into and leaving the Caribbean are aided with these currents and are able to make it back easily to Europe and Africa.
The early navigators had a problem with maps but in the 1400’s better maps were being made, in addition there were better navigational instrument being made. Using reports from explorers and information from Arab geographers, mapmakers were able to construct more accurate sea and land maps. In the 1450’s the movable printing press was introduced which made it easier for maps and books about different exploration to be printed and distributed. One book that played a great role was the Marco Polo’s Travels which provided some inspiration for Columbus’s voyages to the New World.
Better navigational instrument allowed sailors to better navigate the seas. Sailors were able to determine their latitude while at sea with an astrolabe, an instrument that measured the position of stars. The compass a Chinese invention became very popular in Europe 1200’s, it became very helpful to sailors as it allowed them to determine their direction when they were far from land.
Advances in the designs for ship building allowed for ship builders to construct sailing vessels for long and rough ocean voyages. The stern rudder and triangular sails made it easier for ships to sail into the wind; both these new features came from the Arabs. In the 1400’s the Portuguese developed a three-mastered caravel which sailed faster than the earlier ships and could carry more cargo and food supplies. It also could float in shallow waters which allowed sailors to explore inlets and take their ships to the beach for repairs. One veteran sailor said the caravels were the best ships that sailed the sea.
Columbus was inspired by his readings in Polo’s travels. Columbus read what Polo had to say about the island of Cipangu, present day Japan. According to Polo Cipangu was located off the eastern coast of...