Theoretically, every molecule of sea water moves as affected by every wave, every wind, and the wake of every vessel that has ever sailed on the sea. Even eons can pass, and, if we were really, really (OK, impossibly) good at levels of detection, we might just be able to detect the wake of the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. Think of it…a permanent record of the wake of the Santa Maria on October 12, 1492 as it approached San Salvador, Bahamas, exists…it is just too difficult for us puny humans to detect right now. To think that High ZZ’s might rise and fall, pitch and yaw while sailing, in some measure affected by the wake of the Santa Maria…well it is just too grand to imagine. So the crew of High ZZ’s settled for the next best alternative: to actually set foot where Christopher Columbus had 526 years ago!
After much debate as to where Columbus actually landed (since he thought he was in India, reconstructions of his navigational notes are pure speculation), most scholars have settled on San Salvador, in a large part, because it is the only potential landing spot that has archeological evidence. Some Spaniards, in the 1400’s, left beads, glass, pottery and metal objects of the type Columbus mentioned trading with the natives. Not to mention that the island itself, and the surrounding islands subsequently visited on that first voyage, fit Columbus’ descriptions. And so, High ZZ’s has also landed in San Salvador by the steady determination of her crew and the pure dumb luck of three days of perfect weather. I say perfect because San Salvador is way out east, by itself. Thirty to 50 nm east of the more well-traveled islands, against the prevailing east wind and giant eastern swells in the fierce north Atlantic. So the best weather to get there, is really no weather at all…no wind and little to no swells…for three days! So it cost us a few gallons of diesel; we stood on the island where Columbus landed!!!
In five years of listening to other cruising boats check in on the morning SSB radio net (Cruisheimers: 8152 MHz), we have never heard of another boat making landfall in San Salvador (I am sure there have been some; but I guess they did not feel like bragging about it). Actually, we made a way bigger deal of the “First Landing” than the Bahamians have…there are fewer Columbus monuments on San Salvador than on Long Island (remember Fernandina, his third stop?). The lone Columbus museum on the island closed years ago. Not even a Columbus statue, WTF??? Just a sign on a dilapidated church apologizing for messing too many people up. So, we included a picture of the real nice Columbus monument on cape Santa Maria, Long Island…err, I mean Fernandina.
Chris’s voyage was, for all its intents and purposes, a complete failure. He messed up his nautical calculations, estimating that the way west to the Indies was many 1,000’s of miles shorter than the actual distance (I’m glad I have never made such a huge navigational error or Admiral Deb and I may be speaking French right now). He ran into a continent that, turns out, had already been discovered, centuries earlier, by leaf Ericson. And he found no gold and precious gems that he had promised the King and Queen as a return on their investment of funding his voyage. But Columbus did leave one true gem in his wake that the Bahamians had the good sense to preserve to this day: Conception Island. Now a Bahamian National Park, Conception Island, and the waters that surround it are unspoiled by development, pollution…except noise. For all the “thou shalt not” rules enumerated on the park’s signboard, they forgot to include: mega-yachts setting up a boom box toting beach party for their ultra-rich owners/charterers, complete with jet skis, water slides….what were they thinking??? Luckily, the one mega-yacht that was at Conception when we arrived left an hour or two later, and the next mega-yacht we saw steaming hard for the Island past us just as were leaving for San Salvador. Conception is still nothing like Little San Salvador Island, another first visit landfall for High ZZ’s. Little San Salvador is now a cruise ship party stop for Holland America and Carnival (I think), complete with pirate ship bar. Again, we arrived at LSS when a ship was leaving, and left LSS just when another cruise ship was arriving; what luck? Following in Columbus’ wake…a gem of an adventure!