At this time, in Palos, the most important man of maritime affairs was the head of the family of Pinzón — Martin Alanso, "best-known and bravest of captains and pilots" — and to him Columbus would first have addressed himself, had not this mariner been absent with a cargo of sardines at Rome. As it was, Columbus awaited his return eagerly.
Pinzón, as it chanced, was at this juncture cherishing a project
of his own for exploring to the West, and while in Rome had sought
light at the library of Pope Innocent VIII upon "lands in the Ocean
Sea." There he had seen "a map and a book, " both of which (in the
form of copies, no doubt) he had brought with him. These documents,
according to Pinzón's son, Pinzón the father not only submitted to
Columbus but gave into his hands. Furthermore Pinzón and Columbus
now went together to the house of Pedro Vasquez de la Frontera and
got him to repeat the tale of how, with a Prince of Portugal, he had
sailed west as far as the Sargasso Sea, from before which he had
recoiled. It was necessary "to brave this obstacle," said Vasquez,
because by not doing so the Prince had failed to find land. If, on
meeting the Sargasso Sea, one would but keep "straight on," it would
be "impossible that land should not be found."
How, on his voyage in 1492, Columbus made use of "a chart" whereon he himself had depicted "certain islands "; how this chart was passed back and forth between him and Martin Alonso Pinzón; and how, apropos of the impending landfall, one of the pilots spoke to Columbus of indications from "your book," are incidents well known. Nor is it less well known that on this voyage, after encountering the Sargasso Sea, Columbus despite protest "braved the obstacle" and kept "straight on," literally "on and on, " following as nearly as he could the twenty-eighth parallel, till land rewarded his perseverance.
Back to: The Spanish Conquerors